Monday, January 07, 2008


Ed Gorman and Bill Crider have both talked about John D. MacDonald on their blogs in recent days, and that inspired me to pull down one of my unread JDM novels from my shelves. Unfortunately, I think I picked the wrong one. It's A MAN OF AFFAIRS, and so far, about a third of the way into it, it's a showcase for all the things I don't like about MacDonald: the precious dialogue, the moralizing, the corporate intrigue. I want to like it, I really do, but so far I'm finding it heavy going. Maybe it gets better, though. I've liked everything else I've ever read by him.

My page count today was 22. I worked on a different computer, just to change things up a little. I've been doing that for the past several books. Each of them has been written on two or three different computers, in two or three different rooms. I don't know if that helps or not, but it hasn't hurt. The extremely prolific pulp author H. Bedford-Jones had several different typewriters with a different story going in each one, and he'd switch back and forth between them. I haven't gone that far yet and don't plan to. I can work on more than one project at a time if I have to, but I don't like it.


mybillcrider said...

This isn't a JDM novel I'd ever choose to reread. But if I did, I'd probably like it.

James Reasoner said...

Wouldn't you know, right after posting that I read some more in the book and came to some pretty good scenes. I don't think it'll turn out to be top-rank JDM, but I'm sure I'll finish it. Now that I think about it, I didn't care much for CANCEL ALL OUR VOWS, another of his very soap-operatic books.

Ed Gorman said...

I agree with you, James. Man of Affairs is ponderous and pompous.

Mark Terry said...

I, like most crime writers, was a fan of the Travis McGee novels (sexist and dated though they may be), but his standalones never worked quite as well for me.

On the other hand, somewhere on my shelves is a collection of science fiction short stories JDM wrote (I think the collection was called OTHER WORLDS, but I could be wrong) over a good chunk of his career and some of those are particularly good. In fact, now that I think about it, it ends with a novella about a guy who develops a device that can "speed up" people in time, so they move faster. The company uses it for athletes and then manage the athletes or gamble on their performance. (Then the bad guy gets stuck in the machine by its inventor and he lives his whole life in the span of about a week). It occurs to me how many parallels there are to that story and the doping scandals that are apparently going to be the hallmark of professional sports in the 21st century. (Not to get too philosophical about this. The story is great).

mybillcrider said...

I've said before that if JDM had stuck with SF, he'd have been a major star.

I don't like CANCEL ALL OUR VOWS much, either, James. Another one I won't read again.