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