Kiss Him Deadly:
Mickey Spillane Cashes In His Chips at 87
for a few bands and songs named after his books, Mickey Spillane
doesn’t have a whole heck’ve a lot to do with music.
His obit is however included here because he remains one of the
biggest rock stars to ever publish a book.
In an era
before arena rock, or even rock’n’roll as a mass phenomenon,
critics and contemporaries hated Mickey Spillane because he was
a vulgar pop culture icon. He was a sexist communist-baiting blind-patriot
brut of a writer. His works turned the gratuitous sex and violence
up a notch for Hammett and Chandler’s already racy tough guy
detective novel genre – and, in the process, stretched the
limits for the rest of popular culture in the post-war period. He
was an anti-intellectual who was publicly boasted that he was a
writer instead of an author, his works peanuts instead of caviar,
“the chewing-gum of American literature" – and
this wasn’t self-deprecation. Rivaling Kerouac in the automatic
writing department, he was known to churn out a book in as little
as nine days. Despite the efforts of politicians, critics, and other
arbiters of taste, he was the best-selling writer of the years immediately
following World War II. And, like his fellow crude rock stars, if
nothing else, he was undeniably a distinct sylist.
odd piece of trivia: in addition to a variety of other jobs, Spillane
performed the duties of both trampoline artist and human cannonball
in the circus. He also used his celebrity to make extra cash endorsing
light beer. And, like the rockers playing under the giant Coors
banner at the stadium, it’s difficult to imagine him touching
think of anything more rock’n’roll than all of this
– except for the fact that he retired when he found Jesus
and staged a comeback years later in which his work showed no traces
of moral reformation whatsoever.
don’t agree with Mickey Spillane on most points, and don’t
have much of a taste for Mike Hammer, I’ll admit that I’m
a fan of his blunt writing, the exciting way it conveys American
post-war anxiety, and the way it's left ice in my veins. And I can’t
help but think what rock music would’ve been without him.