Edgar Nom and Life with Mickey

January 21st, 2014 by Max Allan Collins

I am pleased, and a little astonished, that “So Long, Chief,” a short story by Mickey Spillane and me that appeared in the Strand magazine, has been nominated for an Edgar. The story is one of around five I’ve done so far with an eye on developing a Hammer short story collection, utilizing the shorter fragments in Mickey’s files.

I’ve been nominated a bunch of times for Edgars, but this is only my second for fiction (the previous one was for the Ms. Tree prose short story, “Louise”). Nate Heller has never rated a nomination; Quarry either. ROAD TO PERDITION wasn’t eligible in any category because it’s a graphic novel.

This nomination rights an embarrassing wrong: while he was named a Grand Master Edgar by the MWA (thanks to the efforts of Don Westlake, Otto Penzler and others), this is Mickey Spillane’s first Edgar nomination.

Barb and I have not decided whether we’ll attend the awards ceremony in New York. If I go, I may jinx it, and we already have trips planned this year for San Diego Con and Bouchercon. And I have a lot of work on my plate. We’ll see.

See the full list of short story nominees, and my stiff competition, here.

In other Spillane news, there’s a Mickey book that I didn’t write that’s about to come out: MY LIFE WITH MICKEY by the effervescent Jane Spillane. I can’t wait to read this myself. Mickey’s lovely widow has attracted lots of press, particularly in the South. Check this wonderful piece out.

I should note that the journalist got one bit a little wrong – Jane found a section of the climax of THE GOLIATH BONE in Mickey’s pick-up, complete with post-it’s…not LADY, GO DIE! To order MY LIFE WITH MICKEY, go here.

I have wrapped up QUARRY’S CHOICE. It went out yesterday to editor Charles Ardai, and was one of the harder Quarry novels for me. First, I had the potential TV series hanging over my head (still no news); and second, in the midst of much reviewer love for the hitman-killing-hitmen aspect of recent Quarry novels, CHOICE is only the third novel to deal with Quarry when he was working for the Broker. (There’s also a short story.) There’s a lot of sex in this one. How much? Well, Barb said I’m now officially a dirty old man.

She’s kidding, of course (aren’t you, honey?) but it touches upon the reaction some reviewers and readers have to the sex in my novels, particularly Quarry ones. Are these scenes gratuitous? Well, a book as dark and violent as any Quarry novel is inherently gratuitous. But I try to use sex scenes for characterization purposes. In THE WRONG QUARRY, a casual, nasty bit of back alley sex shows Quarry and the woman at a sort of low moral ebb; but a later, tender sexual encounter between them reveals they have stirred better impulses in each other. Similarly, an over-the-top sex scene involving a barely legal wild child means to demonstrate its relative emptiness compared to conventional but loving sex with a much older woman. Anyway, that’s what I hope those scenes do.

Scenes of violence in Quarry novels tend to be either very understated (“I got out the wrench”) or go into gory Spillane-style excessive description. A flat scene of violence can indicate the protagonist’s emotional numbness to such carnage; a highly descriptive depiction of that carnage can remind you of the actual physical and human toll.

I share these thoughts with you, because a good number of the reviews – and I mean the positive ones – of THE WRONG QUARRY talk about the book as pulpy fun, and I hope that’s the case, because as I said here last week, I consider the books to be black comedies. But in my novels – in any good fiction dealing with sex and violence – such scenes do not occur in a vacuum. They intend to reveal character.

The reviews of THE WRONG QUARRY continue to roll in. This is one of my most-reviewed books of recent years, and really only one of them (probably numbering close to 35 by now) could be called mixed or negative. (Guess which review I fixate upon.)

I was thrilled to get this glowing notice from one of the key reviewers in contemporary mystery/crime fiction, J. Kingston Pierce at the Rap Sheet.

Careful reading this fun review – there’s a major spoiler (I had to ask the reviewer to attach a SPOILER WARNING before the paragraph in question, which she graciously did).

Here’s another good one.

And another.

Finally, here’s yet another did-you-know-it-was-a-comic-book rewrite about ROAD TO PERDITION, book and film.


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4 Responses to “Edgar Nom and Life with Mickey”

  1. Paul.Griffith says:

    Max, I really enjoyed the write up about Jane’s new book on Mickey. I also pre-ordered the book. They called back almost immediately. Really looking forward to reading about the Mick’s life!
    On another note: THE WRONG QUARRY was outstanding! I feel the sex and violence make the storyline REAL. Can’t wait for the release of CHOICE!
    I also got a copy of IT’S IN THE BOOK. It’s terrific! It is also the only short story of Hammer you’ve written that I have. Hope not to have to wait too long for the compilation book so I can read the others. Although I haven’t read SO LONG, CHIEF I know it is worthy of the Edgar nomination. You do realize my collection won’t be complete until the release of the short story compilation don’t you? No pressure, just sayin’. I’m always excited each Tuesday to read your updates, they keep me going between novels! Thanks!

  2. mike doran says:

    Off-topic (story of my life):

    Just back from the Huffington Post, where I read your rebuttal to Jonathan Eig, re the naming of the ATF building in DC for Eliot Ness.
    Eloquent as always, but I wonder if you sent a copy to Michael Sneed, who really needs to see it.

    *And I confess to just a wee bit of pride at having (perhaps) spurred you into writing it.*
    * … and apologies if i’m tipping next Tuesday’s essay …*

    I’m replying here rather than at HuffPo because I can’t get their oedipusrexing comments to work right.

  3. Mike, you did nudge me, but mostly Brad Schwartz was right on top of it. He wrote the original draft of the Ness piece. In next week’s update I’ll be providing a link.

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