I'm not a fan of Mickey Spillane's books, but I do admire Mickey Spillane the writer. He wrote what he wanted to write, he made himself a household name, he sold millions of books. He did all that while being savaged by the literary establishment. To paraphrase a quote about Laurel and Hardy, “Everybody hated him but the public.”
This 1952 article tries to put a finger on Spillane's success, but I feel it was more of a “right place at the right time” sort of thing. He was writing for the exploding paperback book market at a time when millions of men had been through the biggest and most violent war in history. The communists were threatening us, and the atom bomb was hanging over our heads. It was a time of film noir, cynicism about the future, political sound and fury, and the world and everything we'd known just a few years prior to the war was forever changed. Spillane filled a niche.
Spillane died at age 88 in 2006. The article, being sixty years old, is about a youthful Spillane, a writer in t-shirts who who was playing by his own rules. I would never have guessed the ending of this article, which has him in a sports coat and tie leading a religious service. It's a surprise ending that would have floored me had I read it in one of his books.
Copyright © 1952, 2012 Time-Life
Some examples of Spillane's bestselling paperback books.