March 16, 2018

AND HE WAS, OF COURSE, ANTI-COMMUNIST WHEN THE LITERATI WERE PRO-:

MICKEY SPILLANE TURNS 100: Max Allan Collins on Sex, Violence, and Mike Hammer (MAX ALLAN COLLINS, 3/09/18, Crime Reads)

In July of 2006, at the age of 88, the last major mystery writer of the twentieth century left the building. Only a handful of writers in the genre--Agatha Christie, Dashiell Hammett, and Raymond Chandler among them--achieved such superstar status.

Spillane's position, however, is unique--reviled by many mainstream critics, despised and envied by a number of his contemporaries in the very field he revitalized, the creator of Mike Hammer had an impact not just on mystery and suspense fiction but popular culture in general.

The success of the paperback reprint editions of his startlingly violent and sexy novels--tens of millions of copies sold--jumpstarted the explosion of so-called "paperback originals," for the next quarter-century the home of countless Spillane imitators, and his redefinition of the action hero as a tough guy who mercilessly executed villains and slept with beautiful, willing women remains influential (Sin City is Frank Miller's homage). [...]

This was something entirely new in mystery fiction, and Spillane quickly became the most popular--and controversial--mystery writer of the mid-twentieth century. In addition to creating an eye-for-an-eye hero, the writer brought a new level of sex and violence to the genre. He was called a fascist by left-leaning critics and a libertine by right-leaning ones. In between were millions of readers who turned Spillane's first six Hammer novels into the bestselling private eye novels of all time.

Posted by at March 16, 2018 4:10 AM

  

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