Friday, March 9, 2018

Happy Birthday, Mickey

I didn't want the sun to go down tonight before saying anything about Mickey Spillane's 100th birthday (today, duh) but the sun has gone down, and thoughts have eluded me all afternoon. What do you say about Mickey that hasn't already been said, and what can you add to the mix? But I finally have a few thoughts:

1) Mickey left us too soon, and The Goliath Bone, his last book finished by Max Allan Collins, was tough to read, because "the end" meant "good-bye" and I wasn't ready for that yet. I've learned more from Mickey Spillane than any other writer including Ian Fleming. How can you argue with, "The first chapter sells the book; the last chapter sells the next book." Nobody else talks about writing the way Mickey Spillane did.

2) Mickey once did a TV interview to promote The Killing Man on a talk show hosted by Bob Costas, "Later", I believe it was called, because Costas used to open by saying, "Thanks for staying up Later." I was fortunate to videotape the show, but now the tape is gone. I must have watched that interview a thousand times. Mickey was funny and engaging and he looked like my grandfather. I'd love to see it again. Mickey gave other interviews and recycled all the answers, but they weren't the same.

3) Anybody who wants to write about anything needs to read the first chapter of The Killing Man and memorize it. That first chapter is without flaw and shows you everything you need to know about setting a scene and building tension to the breaking point. It's brilliant. The rest of the book ain't bad, either. The last line? "Now I killed you, you shit." Terrific! Nobody writes last lines the way Mickey Spillane did.

4) I wrote him a letter once to tell him how much I admired his work and had the audacity to email Max Allan Collins to ask for the best address, because I knew he'd understand. Collins provided a "general delivery" post office location and said, "Don't worry, he'll get it." I sent the letter. I don't know if Mickey ever got it. But I hope he did.


  1. You got it right, Brian. Nobody did it like Spillane and many of us who followed in his wake (even some of the snobs who won't admit it)owe him a debt. I'll be doing a post later today (also a day late for his birthday) about how I met Mickey on the set of Max Collins' film "Mommy 2". He was every bit as friendly and engaging as you saw on TV. It was one of the highlights of my life.