From Library Journal
Floridians and snow birds who aren't already fans of the writing of John D. MacDonald will race to the shelves for his works after reading this fascinating history of the man who has been called a very good writer, not just a good mystery writer. Drawing on extensive research, Merrill (Univ. of West Florida) offers a succinct biography of the man who invented Travis McGee. Readers learn of MacDonald's early works, published as paperbacks at a time when the government was attempting to label all paperbacks as pornography; MacDonald's respect for the untarnished environment of Florida; and his life as an active member of a Sarasota writer's group that met for loud storytelling, serious drinking, and sometimes heated rounds of liar's poker. Through letters to such well-recognized people as Stephen King, Elmore Leonard, and Dan Rowan, readers get a glimpse of how Travis McGee developed and how MacDonald, after putting his character in movies and on television, decided that McGee was bound by the printed page. There is also some discussion of MacDonald's respectful treatment of sex and women in his short stories and novels. This solid appreciation of one of America's favorite popular authors is highly recommended.DJoyce Sparrow, Juvenile Welfare Board Lib., Pinellas Park, FL
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The life of John D. MacDonald, author of the perennially popular Travis McGee mysteries, offers a revealing look at what it meant to be a professional writer in the last half of the twentieth century. Neither a literary novelist, supported by universities, nor a best-selling author (at least not for most of his career), MacDonald was a craftsman who wrote for pay, first in the pulps, later as a paperback novelist in the Fawcett Gold Medal stable, and finally in hardcovers, where the later McGees coexisted with such high-concept melodramas as Condominium
. Merrill follows MacDonald's life in straightforward, no-nonsense prose (Travis would have approved), moving from the author's early experience in the insurance business, through service in World War II, and on to his seemingly quixotic decision to launch a freelance career. The text is peppered with quotes from MacDonald on the subjects he cared most about: the environment and how to make money from the writing game. For anyone interested in the history of publishing in the paperback era, the life of John D. MacDonald is the ultimate primary source. Bill OttCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved