Sunday, July 05, 2015

Mickey Spillane could write for the critics, whether he admitted it or not

"`A man of such determination I must kiss,' she said."
"From nowhere. From everywhere. ... She is a rumor. A wisp of smoke. A legend."
They just don't write like that anymore, and that's good. Not too many people write like the following anymore, either, which is too bad:
"The coin flips again, comes up tails, and an intern looking for a gold star goes to the trouble of fingerprinting an accident victim whose I.D. somehow got lost in the shuffle, and those prints get sent to a local precinct house and on to Washington, and you? You're not even awake yet." 
All three examples are from The Consummata, started by Mickey Spillane as a sequel to his 1967 novel The Delta Factor, abandoned, completed by Max Allan Collins, and published by Hard Case Crime in 2011.    I don't know if the first two examples are bad writing as much as they are badly dated; perhaps they would have seemed fresher a half-century ago.  The third example, though, is wryly comic and works just as well today as it could have when it was written. (All three examples are from the first half of the book, so I'm guessing they're Spillane's rather than Collins'.)

Spillane may have sneered at critics, but the hell with him; the man had chops even if not every sentence has aged well. (Here's a post about Spillane's late-career novel Dead Street, also published by Hard Case. The book is a worthwhile mix of bluster, nostalgia, and, I suspect, Spillane having a bit of fun with his own tough-guy reputation. The book's cracks about 21st-century events rendered in typical tough-guy Spillane style are great fun and a reminder that, though people may think of him as a 1950s writer, he wrote almost until his death in 2006 and he still had something left in the literary tank at the end.)

© Peter Rozovsky 2015

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