obit of note • Mickey Spillane at 88, mystery writer and creator of Detective Mike Hammer.

I, the Jury was written in only nine days, but it became such success that Spillane quickly produced six more Hammer novels, five of them between 1950 and 1952. The Long Wait (1951) sold 3 million copies in a single week in 1952.

• “If the public likes you, you’re good. Shakespeare was a common, down-to-earth writer in his day.”
• “Those big-shot writers could never dig the fact that there are more salted peanuts consumed than caviar.
• “I’m a commercial writer, not an “author.” Margaret Mitchell was an author. She wrote one book.”
• “Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle. They read it to get to the end. If it’s a letdown, they won’t buy anymore. The first page sells that book. The last page sells your next book.”

Everyone once in a while I like a cheeseburger, about one a year. That’s how often I read Mikey Spillaine, that’s one a year for a lot of years. It’s misogynistic, misanthropic, vulgar trash and I like it. Running around with the wrong element raised me to mock the man, the patter, the punch in the face that crumbles a thug like a sand castle kicked over by a bully. For years I read tripe by other authors that wound its way through a book like tourists in a garden maze, no matter how much you digested you never got anywhere good. For better or worse, Spillaine’s words are alive, they told a story, the painted a picture. When Betsy drills holes in the bad guy you smell the powder, you feel the heat of the barrel. Mike Hammer wasn’t a guy you wanted to meet in a dark alley, he wasn’t even a guy you wanted sharing your universe, he was big and scary and totally unhinged. He wasn’t flesh or carved in marble, he was molded out of paper pulp. He strode to the tune of Harlem Nocture. You read him cover to cover and it was good.


Sent: Monday, July 17, 2006 7:58 PM
To: Bibliophile Bullpen
Subject: Re: [b] RIP Mickey Spillane

“No, Charlotte, I’m the jury now, and the judge, and I have a promise to keep. Beautiful as you are, as much as I almost loved you, I sentence you to death.”

(Her thumbs hooked in the fragile silk of the panties and pulled them down. She stepped out of them as delicately as one coming from a bathtub. She was completely naked now. A sun-tanned goddess giving herself to her lover. With arms outstetched she walked toward me. Lightly, her tongue ran over her lips, making them glisten with pssion. The smell of her was like an exhilarating perfume. Slowly, a sigh escaped her, making the hemispheres of her breasts quiver. She leaned forward to kiss me, her arms going out to encircle my neck.)

The roar of the .45 shook the room. Charlotte staggered back a step. Her eyes were a symphony of incredulity, an unbelieving witness to truth. Slowly, she looked down at the ugly swelling in her naked belly where the bullet went in. A thin trickle of blood welled out.

I stood up in front of her and shoved the gun into my pocket. I turned, and looked at the rubber plant behind me. There on the table was the gun, with the safety catch off and the silencer still attached. Those loving arms would have reached it nicely. A face that was waiting to be kissed was really waiting to be splattered with blood when she blew my head off. My blood. When I heard her fall I turned around. Her eyes had pain in them now, the pain preceding death. Pain and unbelief.

“How c-could you?” she gasped.

I only had a moment before talking to a corpse, but I got it in.

“It was easy,” I said.

(from my slightly beat-to-shit first edition/second printing of the Signet paperback edition of “I, The Jury”)


Jerry Silverman
Chicago, IL

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