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: Bright Orange for the Shroud



Bright Orange for the Shroud, like Darker Than Amber after it, is really ramping up the level of evil that McGee confronts.  Here, Stebber’s organized gang uses sex and marriage to clean marks out of their life savings; in addition, while many in the gang get their just desserts, Calvin Stebber and Debra Brown, two of the biggest offenders, get away.  Boone Waxwell is more a less a recycling of Junior Allen from The Deep Blue Good-By.  With Debra Brown MacDonald both reinforces a type of female he has employed in past novels (Lysa Dean from The Quick Red Fox, for one) and will explore further in the future. 


Here is my usual McGee blueprint rundown:


THE REFERRAL – Someone sends McGee the client.  He doesn’t find the client on his own. Arthur Wilkinson “refers” himself by returning to Lauderdale and walking onto McGee’s houseboat.


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 returns; Wilma Verner (instrumental in the action but never seen in the novel); Vivian Watts; Leafy; Cindy Ingefeldt; Debra Brown.  All complex and memorable!


THE GROUP SCENE – Some sort of party or orgy figures importantly in the case.  The important group scene happens ‘offstage’, about a year before the events of the novel; Arthur Wilkinson was part of a partying group, as was McGee, when Wilma Verner picked him off.




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. Calvin Stebber and Wilma Verner have been at it for fifteen years.



“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.  McGee is not really involved with Debra Brown throughout the novel, and he stomps her with a serious rejection in the closing pages.  Admittedly this is not quite in this category!


THE SOCIAL COMMENTARY – Remarks, usually negative and disapproving, about the way society is going.  One example: “Forty million more Americans than we had in 1950.  If one person in fifty has a tendency towards murderous violence, then we’ve got eight hundred thousand more of them now.”



THE PHILOSOPHICAL COMMENTARY – Remarks about humanity and human nature on the whole. One example: “The billions upon billions of lives which have come and gone, and that small fraction now walking the world, came of this life-pulse, and to deny it dignity would be to diminish the blood and need and purpose of the race, make us all bawdy clowns, thrusting and bumping away in a ludicrous heat, shamed by our own instinct.”











3 comments:

  1. John D McDonald is a very underappreciated author for his social commentary and philosophical ramblings. What a tremendous talent he had. His characters were my role models as I grew up.

    ReplyDelete
  2. John D McDonald is a very underappreciated author for his social commentary and philosophical ramblings. What a tremendous talent he had. His characters were my role models as I grew up.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I found some useful information in your blog, it was awesome to read, thanks for sharing this great content to my vision, keep sharing.
    SharePoint jobs in Hyderabad

    ReplyDelete