RARA-AVIS: Re:John D. MacDonald Gold Medal Treasure Trove!

From: Mark D. Nevins (nevins_mark@yahoo.com)
Date: 19 Apr 2009

  • Next message: jacquesdebierue: "RARA-AVIS: Re:John D. MacDonald Gold Medal Treasure Trove!"

    Brian, nice haul. Maybe I need to chat up some of my former professors.

    While I am still a relative newbie to crime fiction, John D. MacDonald has emerged as one of my clear favorites. I have noted that in my few years of mostly-lurking on R-A he has not come up very often (Maybe he's not considered hb/noir enough? But some of his stuff sure is), and I recognize that his style (especially the fairly frequent moralizing narrator) may not be to everyone's taste (it is to mine). I find MacDonald to be a truly great storyteller, a capable prose stylist, and possessed of a level of sheer intelligence not very often seen on the paperback spinner. Judging from some of the blurbs on his many books, older and more recent, he also seems to be very much a "writer's writer," as they say.

    A few years ago I won on eBay a large box full of JDM novels, probably 60 or so, at the hammer price of about 3 for a buck--some of them nice old editions. Not as good as your haul, Brian, but not bad. I'm slowly working my way through them, and have made some notes on the ones especially recommended in this current thread. Recent reads I've enjoyed (not on your list--man, the guy wrote a LOT) have been APRIL EVIL and THE BRASS CUPCAKE. My overall review of each of these would be that they were really wonderful reads that would have been, on the basis of plot alone, fair-to-middling in the hands of most other writers. I plan to continue to read JDM for as long as I'm breathing: maybe I'll get through all of them, but I'll bet, based on what I've read so far, that I won't find one I wish I hadn't spent the time to read.

    Also, to MRT's point: I have also (slowly) been working my way through the Travis McGee novels in publication order. In fact, I'll probably finish BRIGHT ORANGE this evening in bed. All of them are very enjoyable (McGee is clearly the thinking man's Shell Scott--and, yes, I do know the story there), with PINK so far probably the weakest (1960's drug/psychology stories just don't age well), but the first one, DEEP BLUE GOOD-BY is by itself a small masterpiece with a good shot of noir running through it. I suppose if one were going to read, or re-read, only one JDM it should be DEEP BLUE, although I have to say I am looking forward to the later Travis stories wherein, as I understand it, the series starts to shake itself free of some of its genre conventions in interesting ways.

    Mark Nevins

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