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I, the Jury  (Mike Hammer,  #1)
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Group Reads > April 2018 - I, the Jury

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message 1: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new) - rated it 2 stars

Melki | 827 comments Mod
Written in 1947, I, the Jury was Spillane's first novel, and the first to feature his detective Mike Hammer. A theatrical version was released in 1953. Filmed in 3-D, no less, it starred Biff Elliot as Hammer.

description

In 1982, the story was made into a movie again by director Richard T. Heffron with Armand Assante as Mike Hammer.

Frank Morrison Spillane was born in Brooklyn in 1918. During WWII, he served in the Army Air Corps as a fighter pilot and flight instructor.
He got his start as a writer creating adventures for major 1940s comic book characters, including Captain Marvel, Superman, Batman and Captain America.

I, the Jury took Spillane only 19 days to write. His Mike Hammer series proved wildly successful during the 1950s-60s More than 225 million copies of his books have sold internationally. Spillane was also an occasional actor, once even playing Hammer himself in The Girl Hunters a 1963 British-made crime drama.

Spillane died in 2006 at age 88.

More about Spillane: http://www.thrillingdetective.com/tri...


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 42 comments I knew Biff Elliot couldn't be a real name--I was expecting Mortimer Snodgrass, but it was actually Leon Shalek, a perfectly good name, except, I guess, for the 1950s film era. (Sorry to butt in.) I remember watching the Assante version as a teenager, which was probably too violent and titillating for my tender eyes. If I can find a copy of this somewhere, I might join in--the only Spillane I ever tried to read didn't do much for me at the time, but this one is pretty iconic.


message 3: by ALLEN (new)

ALLEN | 153 comments I, THE JURY may indeed be "iconic," but it's hard to find as a standalone volume (new, at least).


AndrewP (andrewca) | 85 comments I read this last month as that would have been Spillane's 100th birthday.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 303 comments I'm about halfway through this one. I think I read a Spillane book a long long time ago but couldn't tell you which one. Either way, I'm enjoying this one although maybe not as much as I'd hoped. I didn't realize what a smart aleck Hammer is.

Melki wrote: "...He got his start as a writer creating adventures for major 1940s comic book characters, including Captain Marvel, Superman, Batman and Captain America...."

I can see the comic book influence in a lot of the tough guy dialogue.


message 6: by ALLEN (last edited Apr 02, 2018 09:42AM) (new)

ALLEN | 153 comments I have my copy of I, THE JURY on order -- actually, it comes with a couple of other Mike Hammer vols., too.

Don't y'all read the whole novel too quickly, would ya? I have to receive it and read it.


Lawrence | 185 comments ALLEN wrote: "I have my copy of I, THE JURY on order -- actually, it comes with a couple of other Mike Hammer vols., too.

Don't y'all read the whole novel too quickly, would ya? I have to receive it and read it."


My copy is being transferred from a library in the next town over. I think the person who does the transfers is reading it. In what usually takes two days has taken a week....


message 8: by ALLEN (last edited Apr 02, 2018 09:49AM) (new)

ALLEN | 153 comments If Mike Hammer were with us, he'd slam the recalcitrant librarian's hand in his drawer (If you've seen the movie of Kiss Me, Deadly and watched that officious snot played by Percy Helton 'get his,' you know what I mean.)

But alas, today that stuff doesn't wash.

I advise a little patience for all. After all, ITJ takes no one a full month to read.


Lawrence | 185 comments ALLEN wrote: "If Mike Hammer were with us, he'd slam the recalcitrant librarian's hand in his drawer (If you've seen the movie of Kiss Me, Deadly and watched that officious snot played by Percy Helton 'get his,'..."

Well, the librarian looked kempt, she apparently escaped Hammer treatment. Reading has commenced.


AndrewP (andrewca) | 85 comments Don't call her 'doll' when you return it :)


message 11: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new) - rated it 2 stars

Melki | 827 comments Mod
AndrewP wrote: "Don't call her 'doll' when you return it :)"

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message 12: by Tom (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tom Steer | 36 comments I read this back in January (along with Black Wings, coincidentally) so won’t reread either for the group as both are still pretty fresh with me. I’ll look forward to hearing what people think of them, but won’t chip in further on either discussion until much later in the month.


message 13: by Jim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 440 comments I started the book today & was really looking forward to it as it's been some time since I read one. Spillane was an early favorite of mine, although I never cared for the Mike Hammer series as much as some of his other works. He makes a lot of bombastic speeches & his love life is ridiculous. The Tiger Mann series is even worse. That sort of thing works better for me on screen or in his western, The Big Showdown, which was written for The Duke. I hadn't realized how much it bothered me until today, though. Well, I can skim them.

Most of my favorites are his short stories & standalone books. The Tough Guys has 3 good short stories, the last of which is "The Bastard Bannerman" which he later turned into The Erection Set, one of my favorite standalone novels. The Deep & The Delta Factor are 2 others.

His YA novel, The Ship That Never Was was really bad, too.


message 14: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new) - rated it 2 stars

Melki | 827 comments Mod
Jim wrote: "His YA novel, The Ship That Never Was was really bad, too."

I was wondering about this one . . .

We have a copy in the children's section of the library, and I must admit - it doesn't go out very often.


message 15: by ALLEN (last edited Apr 08, 2018 07:10AM) (new)

ALLEN | 153 comments Melki wrote: "Jim wrote: "His YA novel, The Ship That Never Was was really bad, too."

I was wondering about this one . . .

We have a copy in the children's section of the library, and I must admit - it doesn'..."


Maybe that book would circulate more often if he had used a pseudonym like "Michelle Weir" instead?


message 16: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new) - rated it 2 stars

Melki | 827 comments Mod
ALLEN wrote: "Maybe that book would circulate more often if he had used a pseudonym like "Michelle Weir" instead? "

I've been tempted to give it a whirl, but probably not this month. We also have Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming, another writer more famous for his adult titles.


message 17: by ALLEN (new)

ALLEN | 153 comments Melki wrote: "ALLEN wrote: "Maybe that book would circulate more often if he had used a pseudonym like "Michelle Weir" instead? "

I've been tempted to give it a whirl, but probably not this month. We also have ..."


I read C.C.B.B. as a child. I liked it a lot more than the movie.


message 18: by Jim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 440 comments I could have sworn I read Chitty not too long ago, but it's not listed here. Good book, though. I remember it fondly. Read it to the boys, I think.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 303 comments I finished this one. Originally I gave it 4 stars but I have since scaled it back to 3 stars. Hammer is such a comic book character it's hard to take him seriously. The plot was fun at times but also dragged a bit with Hammer's internal monologue which got repetitive and sometimes tiresome. There was lots of action and plot twists so the book stayed interesting. I have a weakness for noirs and detective stories from the post WWII era so I like it in spite of its flaws.


Lawrence | 185 comments I finished this during lunch today. It was what I expected, hard boiled though a little over the top at times. For now I’ll just say I did enjoy it. Now on to Black Wings.....


message 21: by ALLEN (new)

ALLEN | 153 comments My copy arrived today. As I suspected, I realized I had read it before. It's a good blueprint for later Spillane novels, in my opinion, but it's never going to be my favorite.


message 22: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new) - rated it 2 stars

Melki | 827 comments Mod
Probably about 50 pages in, and I gotta admit - I'm not diggin' this one. I think it's the arrogance of Hammer. Naturally every woman must want to sleep with him. Why on earth wouldn't they?

Nevertheless, I will persist . . .


message 23: by ALLEN (new)

ALLEN | 153 comments Why? Male book for male fantasies, fifties-style, maybe the charm is in the long view.

"It was so heavy, I cried" -- television ad for the new Book of the Month, which appears to feature all female writers and is advertised to an all-female readership.


message 24: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 166 comments This clip has a spoiler, but go ahead and watch it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_XpY...




message 25: by RJ - Slayer of Trolls (last edited Apr 11, 2018 06:29PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 303 comments Melki wrote: "Probably about 50 pages in, and I gotta admit - I'm not diggin' this one. I think it's the arrogance of Hammer. Naturally every woman must want to sleep with him. Why on earth wouldn't they?

Nevertheless, I will persist . . ."


It's funny, I had similar thoughts when I was reading the book, and my mind wandered, and I imagined that the first-person narration was really just Hammer sitting at a bar somewhere talking to his buddies and telling them about his latest big case. The boasting and tough guy talk made a lot more sense to me in that scenario, and it also leaves the door open for Hammer to be an unreliable narrator by bragging and exaggerating not only his prowess with seemingly every female he crosses paths with but also maybe even his contributions to the case itself. I'm not saying that was Spillane's intent when he wrote the book (in fact it probably wasn't) but I enjoyed looking at it that way at times.


message 26: by Tom (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tom Steer | 36 comments I had issues with the Every-Bloody-Woman-Wants-To-Bed-Hammer syndrome too. He’s pretty one dimensional, even for a pulp protagonist, and I couldn’t help feeling he’s like some kind of teenage fantasy stand-in for Spillane himself. There’s no weakness to him to make him stand out for me, like Superman with a .38 snubnose.

I’m not going to say I didn’t have fun with this novel, though. It was a bit of a guilty pleasure, like eating a whole pizza alone in bed before you go to sleep. Sure, it’s fun enough and it fills a need, but you know a few hours later you’re going to feel a lingering, awkward shame...

(I haven’t done the pizza in bed thing since university.)

(Honest...)


message 27: by Jim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 440 comments That's a great point of view, Randy. Definitely works.


message 28: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new) - rated it 2 stars

Melki | 827 comments Mod
I've decided to counterbalance with an intelligent book. I read one chapter about Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia, followed by one chapter about women tearing off their négligées due to their inability to resist Hammer's dubious charms.


Lawrence | 185 comments Melki wrote: "I've decided to counterbalance with an intelligent book. I read one chapter about Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia, followed by one chapter about women tearing off their négligées due to their inab..."

Talk about two ends of the spectrum!..


message 30: by Tom (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Britz | 4 comments This is my first Mickey Spillane novel and it's also his first Mike Hammer novel. Mike Hammer is as hard-boiled as it gets. The action was great and the "mystery" was fine, but I picked up on the "who-done-it" just after the half-way mark. From there it was still a great story and I wasn't disappointed, not at all. I did find the character of Mike Hammer to be almost a cartoon portrayal of the hard-boiled detective.
The storyline is Mike Hammer's best friend is shot and killed. Mike swears an oath that he will shoot the killer in the gut and gladly watch him die, just as the killer did to his friend. mike has no qualms about saying this in front of the police chief, who is a friend. Mike Hammer is a fist swinging, fast shooting and fast-tongued braggart.
I enjoyed this fast read and will try more of the Mike Hammer series.


message 31: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new) - rated it 2 stars

Melki | 827 comments Mod
Tom wrote: "This is my first Mickey Spillane novel and it's also his first Mike Hammer novel. Mike Hammer is as hard-boiled as it gets. The action was great and the "mystery" was fine, but I picked up on the "..."

Cartoon is a great description. Hammer seems to have a photographic memory, superhuman strength, and a Svengali-like sway over the ladyfolk. Very much like one of the comic book characters Spillane used to bring to life.


Geoff Smith (oncewewerefiction) | 67 comments I'm at about 70% and overall I quite like it - Hammer is a bit of an arrogant nobhead - and all the exchanges of dialogue fall very conveniently for him, every woman is desperate to marry him, possibly marry anyone - but I like the flow of the mystery, the handling of tension and action. We'll see how it pans out.


message 33: by Jay (new)

Jay Gertzman | 262 comments My copy of I The Jury has marginal notes by Gershon Legman, author of Love and Death: A Study in Censorship
Legman believed that post-war America censored sexual expression severely, but allowed violence in popular media, b/c we needed fighters against enemies such as Russia, N Korea, China, and other "Godless commies". This made Legman see popular thrillers as mass propaganda. He ignored all the signs of good writing and insights into human behavior in the books. He called Spillane's novels "pukos."

But the criticism allowed him to spotlight the ways Spillane appealed to his readers, white males who as ex-GIs had been conditioned to violence, sexual frustration, and hatred of "subhuman" enemies out to kill them. Legman points out Hammer's power to make bad guys bleed, cry out, ask for mercy.

Hammer says he is like a martyr sacrificing to make others safe. His negative allusions to "Dinges" and "fruits" is also an appeal to the white working class, as is his contempt for "pinko" intellectuals . On the other hand, Mike is friends with ordinary citizens, be they dockworkers, gas station attendants, mechanics, bartenders, or countermen in diners. Finally, Spillane's stereo typical babes with tight clothing and sexy walks is a sure-fire appeal to the horny, especially b/c they are loyal, like Velda. Referring to the rough treatment of females in mystery stories, Legman declares that in these books it was "open season on women." He says Hammer would rather gaze at a woman's body than sleep with her.
Someone once observed that there was nothing about making pulp crime popular that Spillane did not know. I would add that I cannot help liking the way Hammer talks directly to me when I read Spillane. I even thought as a kid that it was kind of flattering.


Geoff Smith (oncewewerefiction) | 67 comments Jay wrote: "My copy of I The Jury has marginal notes by Gershon Legman, author of Love and Death: A Study in Censorship
Legman believed that post-war America censored sexual expression severely, but allowed vi..."


Wow, Jay. I loved reading that comment. Really interesting. I wondered to what extent the kinds of tropes that Spillane employs can be used successfully in modern novels.


message 35: by ALLEN (new)

ALLEN | 153 comments I don't think "fruits" would pass muster today. And, almost needless to say, Hammer wasn't too fond of lesbians either.

Is this the same Legman who gave us Rationale of the Dirty Joke: An Analysis of Sexual Humor? A fascinating if dry book.


message 36: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new) - rated it 2 stars

Melki | 827 comments Mod
ALLEN wrote: "Is this the same Legman who gave us Rationale of the Dirty Joke: An Analysis of Sexual Humor? A fascinating if dry book. "

Yes, it is.


Jay wrote: "My copy of I The Jury has marginal notes by Gershon Legman, author of Love and Death: A Study in Censorship
Legman believed that post-war America censored sexual expression severely, but allowed vi..."


How interesting! My dad used to correspond occasionally with Legman. I used to think it was so erudite and scholarly, but more than likely they were just passing dirty jokes back and forth.


message 37: by ALLEN (last edited Apr 15, 2018 07:54AM) (new)

ALLEN | 153 comments His best-known book is a little of both, but it works well for those who want to spend the time on it. I suppose anyone who'd give Legman a new dirty joke would receive just as much appreciation as a folklorist who was offered a new anecdote.


message 38: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 166 comments I-the-jury original cover 2
Racey pulp covers like this one
generated a lot of enthusiasm
for I, the Jury.

I’m going to filibuster a bit, because I haven't re-read the book. But it is worth noting that the first edition is collectible, because the book was a flop in hardcover, whereas the paperback release sold literally millions, and it is not an exaggeration to say was epoch-making:

http://voiceofthedamned.com/i-the-jury/

I, the Jury was Spillane’s first Mike Hammer novel and the biggest-selling book of his entire career, which spanned nearly 60 years. Even though it generated little interest on its initial release in 1947, selling fewer than ten thousand hardcover copies to mostly bad reviews, and even though the publisher rejected Spillane’s second Hammer novel, For Whom the Gods Would Destroy, the importance of I, the Jury cannot be overstated.

When the paperback version of I, the Jury was released in early 1948 with a cover similar to the one on this page, sales shot into the stratosphere. The reading public couldn’t get enough of the hulking, hard-bitten private eye. The novel proved to be a watershed for the crime fiction genre of the day. Spillane’s language, sex-tinged scenes, and his hard-charging style marked a sharp departure from everything that came before it. With this unlikely, profane antihero, crime fiction had entered new territory.

[end quote]

I was in a bookstore not too long ago and there was a guy talking to the owner about that time 25 years ago when he had bought a first edition of I, the Jury off of him for $50.

The owner just smiled and said, "I probably needed the money at the time."

That must be so true. So, what was he supposed to do? Hold it for twenty-five years and then sell it? This is the kind of guy who sees them coming and sees them going.


message 39: by ALLEN (last edited Apr 15, 2018 01:46PM) (new)

ALLEN | 153 comments I guess buying it back then was like buying Xerox stock in 1960, or Intel in the Eighties. If I had had that kind of foreknowledge I'd have bought the first ed. hardcover of GRAVITY'S RAINBOW. Speaking of which, I learned just today how many (hardcover) original printings of Nathanael West's THE DAY OF THE LOCUST WERE sold (1939): 1,480. Yep: one thousand, four hundred eighty. The poor author died in a car crash with no idea how influential the book would become.


message 40: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 166 comments I think comic books have appreciated more since the 1980s.

I knew a kid in high school whose father invested in an Uncanny X-Men number one for $350. Condition was probably Very Fine.

i.e., in better condition than this one:

https://www.ebay.com/p/The-X-Men-1-Se...




message 41: by ALLEN (new)

ALLEN | 153 comments Was there ever a Mike Hammer or other Spillane-based comic?
Pardon me if this question was asked before, but it occurs to me there's a fairly small window between the first appearance of these books (1951) and the time when "lurid" comics got the quietus (ca. 1954). Speaking of vanished Americana and per-copy appreciation in price . . .


AndrewP (andrewca) | 85 comments There was a Mike hammer newspaper comic strip. It was published in a complete collected book a few years ago. Mickey Spillane's from the Files Of...Mike Hammer: The Complete Dailies and Sundays Volume 1 The title says 'Vol 1' but it's complete, there are no others.


message 43: by ALLEN (new)

ALLEN | 153 comments Interesting! Thank you.


message 44: by Jay (new)

Jay Gertzman | 262 comments Geoff wrote: "Jay wrote: "My copy of I The Jury has marginal notes by Gershon Legman, author of Love and Death: A Study in Censorship
Legman believed that post-war America censored sexual expression severely, bu..."

Geoff wrote: "Jay wrote: "My copy of I The Jury has marginal notes by Gershon Legman, author of Love and Death: A Study in Censorship
Legman believed that post-war America censored sexual expression severely, bu..."

I think the targets of Hammer's anger are not reflected in novels except underground ones perhaps now done by small publishers or in Ebooks on the dark web. But crime novels can reflect Hamer's ability to connect with his readers, and in thrillers that challenge the reader by giving him/her protagonists that they make them think whether they should like or dislike them. Noir Writers like Denis Johnson and Barry Gifford are like this. They dare the reader to like the protagonists.


message 45: by Jay (new)

Jay Gertzman | 262 comments ALLEN wrote: "I don't think "fruits" would pass muster today. And, almost needless to say, Hammer wasn't too fond of lesbians either.

Is this the same Legman who gave us [book:Rationale of the Dirty Joke: An A..."


ALLEN wrote: "I don't think "fruits" would pass muster today. And, almost needless to say, Hammer wasn't too fond of lesbians either.

Is this the same Legman who gave us [book:Rationale of the Dirty Joke: An A..."


Yes it is. He was a bibliographer of erotic folklore also, and had a long article on the publishers who would not print the four-letter words (as they would not print "dinge" or "fruit" unless it was clear that the character not the author was using the word.. I believe Grove press publisherd Rationale..., in several volumes.


message 46: by Jay (new)

Jay Gertzman | 262 comments ALLEN wrote: "Was there ever a Mike Hammer or other Spillane-based comic?
Pardon me if this question was asked before, but it occurs to me there's a fairly small window between the first appearance of these boo..."


I do not know, but Spillane was a writer for comics before he turned to novel writing. Spillane was mentioned as an example of "smut" causing juvenile delinquency (there had to be a scapegoat for the phenomenon, beyond tensions of the 1950s such as fear of the bomb, divorce rates, and the decay of the once-viable neighborhoods due to the need to build expressways and allow smelly industrial plants to exist somewhere other than middle-class areas, whedre people had political savvy and money.)


message 47: by Jay (new)

Jay Gertzman | 262 comments Melki wrote: "ALLEN wrote: "Is this the same Legman who gave us Rationale of the Dirty Joke: An Analysis of Sexual Humor? A fascinating if dry book. "

Yes, it is.


Jay wrote: "My copy of I The Jury has margina..."


I visited Legman in the south of France in the late 1980s. He was irascible, challenging, and bitter about the fact that academics like myself could gain promotions by interviewing him, while he had no insurance. but he did, in the form of his magnificent erotica library. I longed to see it, so he took me to a large shed where the books were shelved. I started to look around. "Sit down," he said. "You're making me nervous." His magnum opus, Peregrine Penis, is being reprinted now through the persistence of Judith Legman, a brilliant and persistent person. You can find these volumes by looking on Amazon.


message 48: by ALLEN (last edited Apr 16, 2018 08:26AM) (new)

ALLEN | 153 comments It does seem . . . curious . . . in an industry (academia) with quite a few self-professed liberationists, that a man who has made a serious and (it now seems) rather thorough investigation of one corner of folklorica, with a good understanding of the psychology underlying it, should be frozen out of the academic mainstream through prudery or even "that's not where the field is."

I guess Legman has a right to feel bitter, but on the other hand I suspect that fifty years from now, his stuff will still be read and appreciated while the derivative scribblings of many a "tenured radical" will have fallen by the wayside.

I'm looking forward to the re-released book, and hope Legman's widow can market it through mainstream channels.


message 49: by Jay (new)

Jay Gertzman | 262 comments If you think that pedantry


message 50: by Jay (new)

Jay Gertzman | 262 comments If you think pedantry is representative of liberal-minded or left-leaning professors, you are very much mistaken. Do you think the practice of hiring part-time staff with no benefits was a product of academic liberals or critics of wars like those the Bushes or both candidates in the last presential election love?


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