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Lecture

Crime Fiction 13

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Department
English (Arts)
Course
ENGL 324
Professor
Thomas Heise
Semester
Winter

Description
Feb 15 - thursday reading @ thompson house: 7:30 Kiss Me Deadly - 7 Mike Hammer novels in the 50's - link this back to Red Harvest - the social setting we began to develop in Red Harvest is now grown and matured in this novel - intrusion in to the daily lives of Americans by the federal government - post-war critique of the government/bureaucracy - joining together in a symbiotic relationship of the DoD and corporate America - incestuous and self-sustaining relationship between the public world of the DoD and the private, self- funding world of the corporations - the focus of this book seems to be on the mafia, which is odd - contest between hammer, his friend and the FBI - Hammer doesn't really have much positive to say about the FBI - tension between those three different sites of authority and power - the FBI in particular are emblematic, a representative of the federal government more generally - and the language used to describe the FBI is the same as the language that describes the Mafia - also directed at women’s bodies - displacement of a set of anxieties (scapegoating) - Hammer likes a woman on fire (this is how the novel ends) - the book begins with the murder of Berga Torn - doesn't have the same kind of moral complexities, but there are complexities elsewhere Foucault - in the beginning of the 18th century, in France, we started rehabilitating prisoners instead of just letting them die - we would give them useful skills and instruct them in manners - glass was put up so that you could see then - anything the prisoner did was open for surveillance. there was nothing hidden - thus the prisoners always began to act better because they believed that they were always under social surveillance, so they self-surveyed - this is the same kind of thing as our modern society - any place you look, by the time you hit the 19th century, there's some kind of new dicipline - all aspects of our life are improving in some way or another - private detectives are just too big of a job - this is an example of how we police ourselves - Hammer's anger at the government and its ineffectiveness is a result of the crap job of policing they do - he wants to reinstate the individual kind of policing of crime, where it's one man against everyone, torturing and killing as necessary - anxiety over rising urban crime etc is directed towards the immigrant criminal element - conspiracy theories around communist paranoia - these bodily metaphors as the mafia as a kind of infection are all over the novel - 481: Watch for: how the city's represented, women are represented, the masculinity of men, the conflict between Hammer and the people trying to police the city - parasitic invasion as a metaphor - what kind of values are carried through this? - Hammer's trying to wipe out the parasites (Mafia, which becomes indistinguishable from "being Italian") - woman opens her robe and reveals this horrific body that's been burnt before. in the paranoid logic of the novel, Hammer thinks that these bodies must be wiped out - she's a disgusting mass, and thus she's guilty of something, though not deserving - Shawn McCane's Gumshoe America: he doesn't like Spillane. - there's been a resurgence of Hardboiled fiction in the last 10-20 years - Woody Haught in Pulp Culture: doesn't like Spillane either - "Hammer is a byproduct of Hoover's distorted Imagination" - Jeffery Oryan, Hardboiled America: to liberal intellectuals, Spillane's natural success was an indication of their worst fears - 30 best selling books of America between 1895-1965, and Spillane had seven < he's the James Patterson of the genre - part of the reason for his popularity is that he gives the reader what the reader wants - he doesn't get good reviews, but he doesn't care because he only deigns to give us what we want - success due in part to a structural modification in the publishing industry - they started selling very cheap reprints of classic novels, thus they sold by the millions - he calls himself a very smart merchandizer because he decided to make his own dime store novels - he was one of the first crime novelists to make a killing by moving towards these cheap paperbacks - often marketed to men in the army, since he knew how to market to them, having been one - he knew his title market: he used to pose on the back cover, cradling a bunch of firearms - Kiss Me, Deadly is the first detective novel to reach the best seller list - what's the difference (writing style, sexuality etc) between this and Red Harvest - thinking about these urban settings as alive, and infected and contagious - Hammer doesn't undergo a primal metamorphosis, like the OP - he's bloodthirsty from the beginning, he doesn't need to be converted - for 1952, this novel would have been graphically violent and sexually explicit - Hammer puts his hand on her thigh, and notices that she's not wearing anything underneath - lighting people on fire and gouging out eyes is a relatively new thing - this is also a period of communist witch-hunts - there are man
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