Dastardly Deeds

Mickey Spillane

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Comments (3)
  1. This is a lovely piece about Mickey, far superior to the smiling hatchet job by Lawrence Block in the current MYSTERY SCENE.

    I would say the notion that minorities and women are treated any worse in Spillane than in the work of his most esteemed contemporaries is a kind of urban myth. Chandler’s women are portrayed in much the same way, for example, and slang terms and general attitudes about blacks and gays are similarly politically incorrect (even in later works like THE LITTLE SISTER). Spillane’s women — though sometimes villains — tend to be strong. The relationship between Hammer and Velda is odd, and shifts over the years, but it can’t be denied she’s a strong, tough, surprisingly independent woman…and a PI who carries a gun and wades into action with and without Mike.

    In Mickey’s final Mike Hammer, THE GOLIATH BONE (which I completed, and in which Hammer and Velda do marry), he created a very strong black character — an ex-cop — who aids Hammer in several chapters and is portrayed very much his equal. Though they are not frequent, positive black and Hispanic characters do pop up in supporting roles in Spillane’s work.

    1. Max! How wonderful for you to stop by! I hadn’t known you finished Spillane’s work until I was researching a bit for the article. I’ve been out of the loop for awhile, obviously.
      I’m sorry Block didn’t do Mr. Spillane justice–I don’t know, maybe some people, like Hemmingway are jealous? Ha.
      I didn’t mean to make it seem as though Spillane alone was guilty of these types of stereotypes or violence against women–heavens, just pick up a any serial killer book today–probably far worse than he ever wrote. And you are absolutely right–the women are strong bad assed people, lol. Which I do appreciate. And I’m glad you commented and straightened it out as an urban myth–because although I’ve read Spillane, I can’t say I’ve read everything, and I was going by the general consensus. I’ll put in a footnote about your comment, so those who read it now get a better picture.
      Now I need to get a hold of The Goliath Bone, I really do want to see those two kids married, lol!

  2. Paul Petruccelli says:

    A strong piece on a strong figure in the American fiction lexicon. Spillane not only established the “tough guy” gumshoe for so many others after him, but always layered Hammer with a vulnerability that gave him redeeming qualities. He was tough, but he wasn’t Superman.

    He not only had ground breaking effects on publishing, but on the whole concept of cover art. Several paperback covers had to have the artwork altered over time to accommodate more conservative audiences. If you look at the releases in sequence the females on paperback covers had more and more clothing in each subsequent printing Its an intersting way to track trends as the moral landscape changed between the late forties and the fifties.

    Regardless, Very enjoyable. Keep them coming.

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