RARA-AVIS: McGee on work

From: William Denton ( buff@pobox.com)
Date: 05 Apr 2001

From A PURPLE PLACE FOR DYING, the third Travis McGee book by John D. MacDonald, one of the first three that all came out together and introduced him to the world. Mrs. Yeoman is a thirty-ish woman whose sixty-ish husband stole all the money she inherited from her father, her husband's close friend. She wants a divorce, and the money back.

| "Fine." We drank and I said, "I took this one blind because I'm
| almost broke, Mrs. Yeoman."
| She looked concerned. "That ... isn't very heartening."
| "Like not being successful? I'm very successful."
| "I don't understand."
| "I work when money gets low. Otherwise I enjoy my retirement,
| Mrs. Yeoman. I'm taking it in installments, while I'm young enough
| to enjoy it. I am commonly known as a beach bum. I live on a
| houseboat. I live as well as I want to live, but sometimes I have
| to go to work. Reluctantly."

That's this book's version of the standard explanation at the start of each story about what McGee is and how he lives. McGee appreciates honest labour--he does all the repairs on his boat himself, and he knows what hard work is like--but he's certainly not guided by any sort of work ethic that says striving daily for a boss will improve him or help him get into Heaven. Of course, how he presents himself to people, especially haughty potential clients, isn't how he really is. There's a good paragraph a few chapters later (after Mrs. Yeoman has been killed and he's wondering whether he should look into it) about hotel maids that I'll enter later. It's one of those caustic attacks on the modern age that some people on the list mentioned.


William Denton : Toronto, Canada : http://www.miskatonic.org/ : Caveat lector.

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