A Piece of My Mind: Two Deaths, Two Different Writers
Bennet Pomerantz

If you're a singer, you lose your voice. A baseball player loses his arm. A writer gets more knowledge, and if he's good, the older he gets, the better he writes.
    ~ Mickey Spillane

I'm the most translated writer in the world, behind Lenin, Tolstoy, Gorki and Jules Verne. And they're all dead.
    ~ Mickey Spillane

On July 17, 2006, I was in Fredericksburg, Virginia for some personal business matters. Early morning, I was sitting in a Denny's restaurant. The waiter had taken my breakfast order. I picked up the local newspaper to read the news and pass the time.

There on the front page was not one obit but two. Mike Hammer's creator Mickey Spillane and The Rev. Amos Purnell Bailey, writer of a syndicated column that featured a daily Bible verse; both had passed away from cancer.

I had read both writers over the years in different formats and venues. From Bailey, I received inspiration in my darkest moments from his uplifting newspaper columns. From Spillane, I enjoyed the hard edged pulp detective that he created in Mike Hammer and Tiger Mann.

Spillane was a journeyman writer. He once said, "I'm a commercial writer, not an "author." Margaret Mitchell was an author. She wrote one book." He didn't care for critics either, he cared about the general public who he wrote for. "If the public likes you, you're good. Shakespeare was a common, down-to-earth writer in his day."

Spillane's first novel was I, the Jury, which was written in nine days, It was published in 1946. Originally Jury was called Mike Danger, was submitted in a script for a detective-themed comic book, and was turned down by a publisher. With Jury, he created the idea of pulp fiction. He, in my opinion was an innovator; the prose was hard-boiled boilerplate. Others I know went before (like Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler), but Spillane refined this genre and made his words his voice in genre fiction. Without the creation of Mike Hammer, we would have never seen the likes of Dirty Harry or Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone or Spenser or the works of Val McDermid.

For the past 60 years, Bailey has shared his spiritual wisdom through "Daily Bread," a syndicated inspirational column that ran in Newspapers. The column first appeared in the Tokyo edition of Stars and Stripes, the U.S. military newspaper, on Oct. 4, 1945. He was the first in daily inspirational words in papers.

I would look forward to his insightful stories and scriptural references every chance I could read his "Daily Bread" column. Some days I used the column as part of my life devotions and prayers. You see Bailey didn't preach fire and brimstone, but he taught many acts of kindness. Other types of books and columns like "Love Is:" or the books of Random Acts of Kindness.

Sitting in the Denny's while waiting for my breakfast, I was taken aghast as two literary wordsmiths passed away on the same day. I never knew either personally, but in their words touched me in different ways by their bodies of works.

Rest In Peace Gentlemen. Thank you for all your words and may they pave a path to your heaven.

Reach for the Stars!


So, until next time keep reaching for the stars!

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About the Writer:

Bennet Pomerantz is a media review columnist in 175 newspapers with his weekly column AUDIOWORLD. His fiction and reviews have appeared in the pages of Affaire De Coeur, Gateways, Mystery Scene, Power Star, The Hot Corner, Washington Entertainment Magazine, and many others. He is also known for his review appearances on the MCN Forum. View his web site at Audioworld.