Some of my work on Updike was discussed on The Dish with Andrew Sullivan.
Some of my work on Ross Macdonald was discussed on Pretty Sinister Books.
Here is my interview with superstar music impresario Wendy Starland.
Here is my interview with Pulitzer Prize nominee Olympia Vernon.
Here is my interview with the editor of Best American Short Stories, Heidi Pitlor.
Here is my interview with acclaimed artist Emil Kazaz.
My musing on John D. Macdonald, Travis McGee, and the chicks was picked up on The Rap Sheet.

John D. MacDonald: The Deep Blue Good-By

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       In my humble opinion, The Deep Blue Good-By is a remarkable piece of work by whatever standards you’d like to apply.  I’m not talking about McGee’s comic book like superhero antics in subduing and killing Junior Allen (after all, one of the main purposes of this kind of fiction is to entertain); rather, the intricacy of the plotting, the razorsharp characterizations, the finely tuned and highly observant sense of place (which MacDonald fails with, somewhat, in the McGee novels that he moves outside of Florida), the observations and ruminations of McGee – these are all superb, even amazing. 
        And MacDonald takes chances.  His descriptions of, and explanations for, the way Junior Allen makes both Cathy Kerr and Lois Atkinson essentially his willing, nymphomaniac sex slaves will make every self respecting academic feminist in the world scream in protest.  And he scalds George Brell with 180 degree water to get information out of him, so surely the sadist charge is awaiting somewhere.
        Additionally the characters who move in and out of the novel quickly – the boat salesman Joe True, the waitress Marianne – light up the pages with some special truth.
        In an earlier post I identified seven loosely applicable traits of the early Travis McGee novels; below I look at how they might figure into the situation concerning The Deep Blue Good-By.  But first, here’s the QUOTE OF QUOTES:
        “A naked man who cannot move or talk, and does not know whether it is night or day, and is not told where he is or how he got there, will break very quickly.”

THE REFERRAL – Someone sends McGee the client.  He doesn’t find the client on his own.
This is very straightforward here.  Chookie McCall directly refers Cathy Kerr to McGee, face to face.

THE WOMEN – The Travis McGee novels, in essence, are about his various kinds of relationships with various kinds of women.  The crime and recovery elements are almost incidental.
Chookie McCall, Cathy Kerr, and Lois Atkinson are the principals; I’ve studied them in an earlier post on this blog.  I’d overlooked, however, the portrayals of Gerry Brell (which is the best in the book) and the young teens in Junior Allen’s late entourage – Deeleen, Corry, and Patty, also excel.  It’s hard not to sound like a broken record in praising MacDonald’s writing about females.

THE GROUP SCENE – Some sort of party or orgy figures importantly in the case.
In addition to the cruise Junior Allen plans with the teenagers at novel’s end there is the gathering at Brell’s house where McGee punches Lew’s lights out.

THE MOTIVE FOR THE INITIAL CRIME  – Always greed, always lust for money – the other main motivations for criminal behavior, jealousy and revenge, are never present.
Dave Berry and George Brell scheme for gold in and gems on Chowringi Road in Calcutta, among other places.

“DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT?” – This, or a variant, is asked by McGee of the woman he has gotten romantically involved with in the course of the story, or she asks it of him, right before they break up.
Not applicable here!

THE SOCIAL COMMENTARY – Remarks, usually negative and disapproving, about the way society is going.
Numerous examples exist; here’s just one:
“I am wary of the whole dreary deadening structured mess we have built into such a glittering top-heavy structure that there is nothing left to see but the glitter, and the brute routines of maintaining it.”

THE PHILOSOPHICAL COMMENTARY – Remarks about humanity and human nature on the whole. 
Again, there are many examples; here’s one:
“Reality is in the enduring eyes, the unspoken dreadful accusation in the enduring eyes of a worn young woman who looks at you, and hopes for nothing.”

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