RE: RARA-AVIS: An opinion of John D. MacDonald

From: Robison Michael R CNIN (
Date: 06 Aug 2002

Jack said: I think what holds readers back is that he wrote first-person from Travis's point of view and his description was often picturesque rather than bleak.

********** Unlike quite a few of the rara-avis list who have probably gone thru the entire Travis series, I've only read THE DEEP BLUE GOODBYE and DRESS HER IN INDIGO. DEEP BLUE seemed a bit slow going at first, and since it was my first one, I was put off by the dimestore philosophizing, but it had one hell of a climax, violent and dramatic and exciting and let me get out my thesaurus and I'll find some more adjec- tives.

A lot of DRESS HER IN INDIGO plays in Mexico, and I found it to be entertaining all the way through. I thought this book better displayed his talent for character development, and the plot rolled along well. Either there was less of the famous Travis philosophy or else I was more immune to it.

And not only do I agree with Jack's comment about the books' viewpoints being picturesque instead of bleak, but I also fully approve of it. It's refresh- ing. I didn't feel like my soul needed a shower when I finished them.

One thing I might note is that the outcome of both books had a very similar "look and feel". Although Travis has solved a mystery, great damage has been done to people who were not the bad guys, and the ending is not really a happy one. This similarity in endings is not a problem for me... I just thought I'd mention it.

I don't think these two books are noir. Although there are some bad characters and sad endings, and Travis is not always happy about the state of things, there is still an upbeat quality about JDM's books' mood that allows them to escape the noir tag. They seem to me to be more exciting and adventurous than dark and sinister. No complaints from me. There is something in my brain that's whispering to me that there is a serious flaw in noir. Maybe it's the air of predestination that seems to hang over noir. It seems to put more emphasis on the doomed ending than on the characters' actions sometimes. That doesn't ring true to me.


# To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
#  This will not work for the digest version.
# The web pages for the list are at .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 06 Aug 2002 EDT