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 Purple Place for Dying

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This remarkable novel has a lot of layers and textures that are really not apparent at first blush – they come out more fully with repeated readings.  Mixed race love children; subtle racism; sibling love; living one’s philosophy (i.e., John Webb makes his students read Heidegger, Camus, Sartre – and look how he lives his life!); the politics of local ambition (witness the sheriff, Buckleberry); the cool appraisal of people’s lives from someone who has the inside track on them (attorney Mike Mazzari) and on and on.  True, MacDonald’s portrait of the American West is wildly unflattering and hardly genuine – this is a big problem here.  But in the main this one is a total winner.



THE REFERRAL – Someone sends McGee the client.  He doesn’t find the client on his own.
Someone named Fran Weaver refers Mona Yeoman.  It isn’t specified who she is, though we might assume she is one of McGee’s previously satisfied clients.


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.
Mona Yeoman; Isobel Webb; Marilyn Hauser; Dolores Estobar; Betty (no last name); Amparo Sasegado.  I have more in depth analysis on my post on this blog about women in the first four McGee novels.




THE GROUP SCENE – Some sort of party or orgy figures importantly in the case. 
Not quite relevant here; if I wanted to really stretch the point I could try to conjure up the scene where Jass brings McGee to his private club.


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.
Jass Yeoman bleeds Mona’s estate (in league with his unscrupulous partners).


“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.
Here this feeling/sentiment is expressed non verbally, during lovemaking: “Tonight the lovemaking had had that first tart sweetness of impending goodbye.”

THE SOCIAL COMMENTARY – Remarks, usually negative and disapproving, about the way society is going.
Numerous examples exist; here’s just one:
“State Western was one of those new institutions they keep slapping up to take care of the increasing flood of kids.”



THE PHILOSOPHICAL COMMENTARY – Remarks about humanity and human nature on the whole. 
Again, there are many examples; here’s one:
“I do not believe in coincidence.  I believe that if you keep moving, you expose yourself to a better chance of accidents happening, some good and some bad.”







1 comment:

  1. **** SPOILER ****
    Did Yeoman knock up Dolores when he raped her ?
    That wasn't clear to me. She was touchy about the baby when McGee wished her 'Have a prize baby, Dolores' earlier in the novel, although I don't quite know what that means, he meant to be complimentary.

    ReplyDelete