Creative Chronicles of a Writing Drummer

John D. Macdonald (My hero)

Whilst I generally plan, meticulously, what books I will read, I was slightly detoured when a Stephen King book – 22/11/63 – caught my interest. The story is about a high school teacher who come across a portal in time to 1958 where he intends on saving JFK. Terrific premise and I thoroughly enjoyed the book. At around the same time I was reading this, I kept coming across the name John D. Macdonald. He was mentioned a number of times in 22/11/63, and for some reason I kept hearing his name in other places too. So, I did a little research.

John Dann MacDonald was an American crime and suspense novelist and short story writer. He lived until 1986 and was considered one of the worlds best writers – by writers. And I think this is what led me to him. Stephen King rated him as one of the best. He said that John D. Macdonald was “the great entertainer of our age, and a mesmerizing storyteller”. Dean Koontz described him as being his favorite novelist of all time.

It was Kurt Vonnegut’s words which drew me to picking up my first JDM book. He wrote, “To diggers a thousand years from now, the works of John D. MacDonald would be a treasure on the order of the tomb of Tutankhamen.”

That is exactly how I feel, and I’ve read only one of his books.

And so now I’m on a mission to read all of JDM’s books. After all, if Stephen King and Dean Koontz learned to be as good as they are reading his stuff, then perhaps so can I.

In his own words, JDM called his writing “Unobtrusive Poetry”. Here’s a few examples from the first book in the Travis McGee series, “The Deep Blue Goodbye”.

“… I do not function too well on emotional motivations. I am wary of them. And I am wary of a lot of other things, such as plastic credit cards, payroll deductions, insurance programs, retirement benefits, savings accounts, Green Stamps, time clocks, newspapers, mortgages, sermons, miracle fabrics, deodorants, check lists, time payments, political parties, lending libraries, television, actresses, junior chambers of commerce, pageants, progress, and manifest destiny.

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. I am also wary of all earnestness.”

And another…

“[She] stood there inside her smooth skin, warm and indolent, mildly speculative. It is that flavor exuded by women who have fashioned an earthy and simplified sexual adjustment to their environment, borne their young, achieved an unthinking physical confidence. They are often placidly unkempt, even grubby, taking no interest in the niceties of posture. They have a slow relish for the physical spectrum of food, sun, deep sleep, the needs of children, the caresses of affection. There is a tiny magnificence about, them like the sultry dignity of she-lions.”

Gorgeous prose, isn’t it?

John D. Macdonald… Highly recommended. How highly recommended? Well, out of the writers I’ve read, JDM is the best. Period.


One Response to John D. Macdonald (My hero)

  1. In my humble opinion, The Deep Blue Good-By is a remarkable piece of work by whatever standards you’d like to apply. I’m not talking about McGee’s comic book like superhero antics in subduing and killing Junior Allen (after all, one of the main purposes of this kind of fiction is to entertain); rather, the intricacy of the plotting, the razorsharp characterizations, the finely tuned and highly observant sense of place (which MacDonald fails with, somewhat, in the McGee novels that he moves outside of Florida), the observations and ruminations of McGee – these are all superb, even amazing.

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