The Erection Set Themes
by Mickey Spillane

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The Erection Set Themes

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

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Many of the old Spillane themes as well are present in this early 1970s novel. The characters reprise traditional Spillane figures, embodying traits of the old Mike Hammer gang. Dog, for all his background, appears uncannily like both Tiger and Mike. Violence still occupies a central place in the novel, and sex figures even more centrally, largely, one suspects, the result of loosening restrictions on what could and could not be published.

What is new in The Erection Set is the place accorded to the role of the family. Dog's family, for obvious reasons, is center stage, but the novel also focuses on the working-class family of Sharon Cass, who is from Linton as well, although she is from town and not from the set who frequented the Barrin's mansion. In addition, the novel deals with various members of the local community such as ex-workers, bartenders, and the local madam. There are odd elements of the milltown novel made infamous by such working-class writers as Grace Metalious, whose book Peyton Place (1956) was a blockbuster best seller in the mid-1950s.

Finally, there is a subplot about the making of a movie in Linton, which gives Spillane the opportunity to write about movies and the people who make them. Given his own experiences in filmmaking such a subplot might supply some interesting insights into the author's own feelings about the industry.