Monday, July 24, 2006

The Long Wait -- Mickey Spillane

I don't know when I first read The Long Wait. Let's just say it was a long time ago. The last time I read it was around 1985, when I was writing the entry for it in Bill Pronzini and Marcia Muller's 1001 Midnights. After Spillane's death last week, I decided to read it again. Spillane's blue-collar style for blue-collar guys is crude but effective. Which is to say, it works for me. It's harder to write than you might think. An example of an attempt to do the same thing and failing utterly would be the Rocky Steele novels of John B. West, who seems to have wanted nothing more than to be Mickey Spillane. If Mark Twain had read the books, he might have said, "You have the words, but not the tune." Here's what I said in 1001 Midnights. I don't see any reason to change my mind. "And speaking frankly of crediblity, it must be admitted that The Long Wait has enough coincidence and enough improbable, even downright incredible, plot devices for four or five books. There is violence galore, too, and a lot of voyueristic sex (the final scene is a rewrite of the striptease that concludes I, the Jury). None of this affects the story adversely, however. Typically, Spillane pulls it off. . . . Spillane seems to have had a high old time writing The Long Wait, and the reader who is willing to grin, plant his tongue firmly in his cheek, and go along with him, is in for a hell of a ride."

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