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: A Deadly Shade of Gold

This wild, outrageous novel blasts forth from the page to rush out and meet life head on; its commentary and opinions on myriad subjects hold absolutely nothing back.  This major – this major American novel – can get you into trouble if you borrow its viewpoints liberally.  What do I mean by that?  Well, I posted Travis McGee’s disapproving remarks about Ernest Hemingway verbatim from this novel in a sycophantic Facebook group about Papa and was booted out immediately! 



I pray to the idols that somebody, somewhere, somehow, has the time and inclination to write a significant essay length study of this novel.  It is a remarkable work of fiction in every sense of the term.

Here is my usual McGee blueprint rundown:


THE REFERRAL – Someone sends McGee the client.  He doesn’t find the client on his own. Sam Taggart comes to Travis McGee himself, in person.


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.  Almost too many to mention – Nora; Shaja; Betty; Felicia; Almah; Junebug; Connie Melgar; Dru.  And all of them get a pretty exhaustive analysis and workout from MacDonald.  Elsewhere on this blog I have a 4100 word blip about the women in the first four Travis McGee novels – this one could easily sustain double that, and more.


THE GROUP SCENE – Some sort of party or orgy figures importantly in the case.  Two – the one at Menterez’s house, where Travis kills the dog Brujo, and the one at Tomberlin’s where he kills Dru.


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.  What everybody wants – the gold statues.





“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 quite the exact scenario, however:
“Are you going to suggest that we might as well have the game as well as the name?”
“It would be normal to think about it, Connie.  You are pretty spectacular, and you know it.  But I don’t think it is a very good idea.”
“That is what I was going to tell you.  If you suggested it.”


THE SOCIAL COMMENTARY – Remarks, usually negative and disapproving, about the way society is going.
Numerous examples exist; here’s just one: “The bell ringers and flag fondlers have been busy peddling their notion that to make America strong, we must march in close and obedient ranks, to the sound of their little tin-whistle.”



THE PHILOSOPHICAL COMMENTARY – Remarks about humanity and human nature on the whole. Numerous examples exist; here’s just one:  “Ninety nine percent of the tings that ninety nine percent of the people do are entirely predictable, when you have a few lead facts.”









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