Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Philosophy of Travis McGee - Number 1

by Bert Carson
Travis McGee is a character who was created by John D. MacDonald.  Travis appeared in twenty-one novels, copyrighted from 1964 - 1986.  Recently John D's work has been converted into eBooks and is available in that format at all popular eBook sales outlets.  Most are also available in audio book format, and they are all still in print in paperback.

Caleb Pirtle, with a casual comment, introduced me to the works of John D. and within hours of making the recommendation, I was up to my neck in in The Deep Blue Good-By, the first in the Travis McGee series.  Today I'm half way through number five, A Deadly Shade of Gold.

I'm reading the books on my Kindle, and when I'm driving, I listen to the the Audible version.  On the the Kindle, a passage which has been highlighted is noted and annotated with the number of people who have highlighted it.  Early in the first book, I realized that I'd never seen so many highlighted passages in a novel, any novel.  And the passages that are highlighted are, generally, serious observations made by Travis McGee, who tells the stories in the first-person voice.

John D. MacDonald
After noting a number of such passages, a thought budded and grew in my mind - write a series of blogs centered on what I consider to be the
most powerful of McGee's observations.  I don't mean trite McGee observations that MacDonald added for color, like, "Don't sit on the front row at the ballet."

I'm talking about comments of substance.  Things that you can put in the back of your mind and roll in, inhale, breathe deeply of, and more than likely find that you agree with totally.  Things like:

"I am wary of the whole dreary deadening structured mess we have built into such a glittering top-heavy structure that there is nothing left to see but the glitter, and the brute routines of maintaining it," which, here at the beginning of another Christmas season, jumped off the page like it was lit in flashing neon.

So why bother with a series of blogs about the wisdom of a "pulp fiction" writer?  Because, good writers, the best ones, put everything they have into their books.  No matter the genre, or length of story, or even the relevance of the topic, the essence of the storyteller is there, and in the case of John D. MacDonald, speaking as Travis McGee, and I find it worth considering, pondering, expanding, and understanding.

So, that was number one in what will be at least a 21 blog series.  What do you think?