Spillane: King of Pulp Fiction

Spillane: King of Pulp Fiction

by Max Allan Collins, James L. Traylor

Narrated by Michael Butler Murray

Unabridged — 11 hours, 14 minutes

Spillane: King of Pulp Fiction

Spillane: King of Pulp Fiction

by Max Allan Collins, James L. Traylor

Narrated by Michael Butler Murray

Unabridged — 11 hours, 14 minutes

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Overview

Beginning in 1947 with I, the Jury, and continuing with his next six novels, Mickey Spillane quickly amassed a readership in the tens of millions, becoming the bestselling novelist in the history of American publishing. Surrounded by controversy for the overt violence and suggestive sexual content of his iconic Mike Hammer private eye novels, Spillane was loathed by critics but beloved by his readers.



There is, however, more to Spillane's life than the books. He also starred as Hammer in a movie, was a circus performer, worked with the FBI in capturing a notorious criminal, and starred in Miller Light beer commercials that were so popular they ran for a quarter of a century.



Max Allan Collins became Spillane's friend and collaborator, continuing the Mike Hammer series for years after the author's death, building upon unfinished manuscripts the writer left behind. Now, with coauthor James Traylor, Collins has produced the first comprehensive and authoritative profile of the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master. It is a must-listen for any fan of the author-or of the generations of crime writers that were influenced by his work.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

★ 12/19/2022

In 1947, Mickey Spillane (1918–2006) unleashed his hyperbolic private eye and WWII vet, Mike Hammer, on the world with I, the Jury, a revenge saga that featured a major infusion of sexual innuendo and unfettered violence that scandalized not only other mystery writers but also the publishing industry and beyond. In this illuminating biography, the first devoted to Spillane, MWA Grandmaster Collins (the Nathan Heller series), a late-life collaborator of Spillane’s, and critic Traylor provide incisive analysis of Spillane’s unique career. Employing exhaustive research and their access to Spillane’s personal archives, the authors move from Spillane’s precocious childhood to his time at comic book publisher Timely writing text fillers; his WWII service as a flight instructor; the epic breakthrough with the Signet/NAL paperback edition of I, the Jury; the superstar years of 1948–1953, when each Mike Hammer novel was reprinted in the millions; and his surprise conversion to the Jehovah’s Witness movement. Spillane’s growing appetite for acting and star-making turn in the 1970s as a TV pitchman for Miller Lite beer is recounted in colorful detail, while his long-delayed triumph in being named a Grand Master by his MWA peers in 1995 is quite affecting. The book concludes with several highly informative appendices, including Collins’s fascinating “Completing Mickey Spillane.” This definitive work is indispensable for any fan of the revolutionary Spillane and his two-fisted novels. Agent: Dominick Abel, Dominick Abel Literary. (Feb.)Correction: An earlier version of this review misspelled coauthor James L. Traylor's last name.

Booklist STARRED REVIEW

"A knockout biography … A thoroughly engrossing life story and an indispensable account of the rise of paperback publishing."

BookReporter

"A superbly written and exhaustive portrayal of the life of a writer who changed the mystery genre in the last half of the 20th century…. There is so much here to sink your teeth into and enjoy. Great biographies must capture the individual portrayed—his spirit, his accomplishments, and the times in which he lived and worked. SPILLANE does all of this so expertly that it reads almost as well as a Spillane novel."

USA Today

"The king of hard boiled crime fiction."

Washington Post

"Spillane is a legend of the blood-soaked whodunit, a pioneer of tough guy ethics and New Age vengeance."

New York Times

"There's a kind of power about Mickey Spillane that no other writer can imitate."

Eddie Muller

"Spillane almost single-handedly created the market for 'pocket books' in the late 1940s, and he was one of the first authors media-savvy enough to promote himself as a character."

Wall Street Journal

"An engaging, capacious and largely celebratory account, presenting the writer, his works and their multimedia adaptations as worthy of serious consideration."

Shelf Awareness

"[Collins and Traylor] are strong and persuasive advocates of Spillane's novels. Few readers will be able to resist sampling Spillane's work after reading this engaging and definitive biography of the surprisingly affable tough-guy writer."

Videoscope

"Much imitated, Spillane changed the crime genre and the culture—or maybe culture just caught up with Mickey. Either way, this is a must-read book."

Times Literary Supplement

"No one will produce a more thorough and entertaining biography."

Kirkus Reviews

2022-10-20
A full-dress biography of the most polarizing practitioner of 20th-century crime fiction.

As Collins and Traylor note, nearly everyone deplored the sex and violence of Mickey Spillane’s (1918-2006) midcentury novels about private eye Mike Hammer—though that didn’t stop the millions of readers who catapulted him to the top of bestseller lists and kept him there. Delving into Spillane’s roots, the authors examine the evolution of comic-book hero Mike Lancer into Mike Hammer, cite contemporaneous reviewers who talked up or trash-talked Hammer’s adventures, and explore Spillane’s multimedia activities during the 10 years (1952-1962) of Hammer’s absence from the printed page. (Why the long silence? Collins and Traylor believe Spillane was waiting for his disadvantageous contract with film producer Victor Saville to expire). Warning in their opening chapter of spoilers ahead, the authors proceed to summarize the mysteries and solutions of all Hammer’s early novels. They’re at their best when mapping the Spillane metaverse, which includes novels, stories, articles, comic strips, radio broadcasts, TV programs, and movies, and weakest in their uncritical praise of their subject as a plotter, stylist, Jehovah’s Witness, and human being (a verdict his first two wives might have contested). “Mickey encouraged our best efforts, all the while sharing his humanity, generosity, and down-to-earth nature,” they write. “This book reflects not just our love for his work, but for the man, with thanks for his encouragement and friendship.” Spillane’s appealing directness provides an endless stream of anecdotes. The authors conclude with a formidable array of appendices, ranging from an autobiographical fragment that takes Spillane from birth to age 14 to an essay on “Ayn Rand and Mickey Spillane” to a brace of bibliographies and an account of some of their own extensive dealings with the author when he was alive and the work Collins has continued to complete since his death.

Fans who’ve been waiting for a life of Spillane will gobble this up.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940176807240
Publisher: HighBridge Company
Publication date: 02/14/2023
Edition description: Unabridged
Sales rank: 826,324
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