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Journey Without a Map Paperback – May 30, 2013
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About the Author
George Cadogan Gardner McKay was born in Manhattan, New York City. His early years were spent in France, Connecticut and Kentucky. At age fifteen, he published his first story. He attended Cornell University where he edited the humor magazine, wrote a film review column for the paper, and was briefly president of his class. He rowed on their crew. He has been awarded several prizes for his writing:- The Drama Critics Award for playwriting, the Sydney Carrington Prize. He won three National Endowment for the Arts grants for playwriting. Five of his play have been published by Samuel French Publishing Company, Sea Marks, Masters of the Sea, Toyer, Me, In Order of Appearance. McKay’s plays have been, and continue to be, produced in every state in the union and internationally. Sea Marks won the National Regional Theatre Award in Canada. The Drama Critics Circle Award, best play of the year, and has been produced in NYC in many Off-Broadway productions - among them the Players Theatre (“Best Off- Broadway Play, Walter Kerr, New York Times) the Manhattan Theatre Club, and other theatres. Sea Marks has also been broadcast on B.B.C. Radio Theatre, London. McKay’s play Toyer was first staged at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., directed by Tony Richardson. It has also been produced by Michael White at The Redgrave Theatre in England and more recently in London, at The Arts theatre in the West End. McKay’s play Untold Damage (PBS) Written and directed by McKay for PBS, was cited as the best television production by Television Theatre. McKay was Drama critic and Drama editor for the Los Angeles Herald Tribune. During the time he was with the Herald he invented a method of review called the “Triple Review”: Three brief reviews of the same play by three writers. He taught playwriting at U.C.L.A at his Playwriting Roundtable. Later he taught playwriting and screenwriting at University of Southern California, Juneau Alaska, and the University of Hawaii. McKay’s novels include Toyer (a novel, which won critical acclaim upon its release in 1998 and is currently in pre-production for a major motion film). Journey Without a Map(autobiography). The Kinsman, The Last American, 10 Bloomsbury Square, and Trompe L’Oeil. From 1995 - until his death in November 2001, Mr. McKay wrote and recorded stories for his weekly radio show “Stories on the Wind” which aired on Hawaii Public Radio each Sunday night.
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I found the anecdotes in this book to be raw, poignant, and brutally honest - a rare look at the heart and soul of an extraordinary human being who first influenced my life at the age of 6, when I was in the living room and caught a glance at this handsome and enigmatic "Captain Adam Troy," from the old television series, ADVENTURES IN PARADISE. I can't say what it was that so deeply captured my attention, but suffice it to say, I recognized something in this man that transcended the character entirely.
With that said - Journey Without a Map reads like a stunning narrative of the incredible, and gives the reader insights into what can happen when someone makes the decision to walk away from "civilized" society and take the world by the horns. His recounting of watching the Andrea Doria as she sank is somehow stunning in its simplicity - to realize this intrepid traveler was actually THERE at this moment in history. It's interesting to me as a writer of spiritual books that McKay's approach to life was so casual, yet so filled with those profound moments one may only recognize in hindsight. He writes in one section of the book about his decision to leave the Hollywood scene:
"It was easy. Oh, how I longed to be a has-been.
"And so it went. I was leaving. I didn't know where I was going. It didn't matter, of course. I'd been well underpaid for 'Paradise', but, still, I had some money, enough to float me for a while. The movie offers from 20th Century Fox were generous enough and they were exactly what I didn't want. Stories about fictional men.
"I'm not sure where I got that vain, glorious idea that my life was worth more than a million dollars, but there it was...
"I realized that the only way I'd ever change, would to be CHANGE. That I'd have to snap something in me, nothing else was going to do the snapping. Of course, it might; tragedy's a great snapper of habits. But you can't count on tragedy; it's never there when you want it."
The ultimate joy of this book is impossible to express - the insights and inspirations are a reminder of what is possible when we let go of the programs and embrace Life in all its mystery, mysticism and in all its possibilities. Gardner McKay is a man who achieved what I personally consider to be one of the greatest tasks any human being faces: instead of just going through the motions like a writer putting words down on paper, McKay BECAME the character on a magnificent adventure, the star in the never-ending Journey Without a Map.
At the time, I was making art objects out of trash and exhibiting some bottle-cap designs I thought were clever and made an environmental statement. I also had started writing aphorisms and I'd put together a small book featuring some of them. I didn't know at the time that Gardner was a writer or that he'd been a sculptor, but I knew he was no fool and someone of stature and I wanted to get his opinion of my work. He had an office in a nearby mall so I decided to drop in on him. His office was upstairs with other glass-walled offices and I could see him working at his computer. The door was open and I stood in the doorway. He looked up and said, "Yes?", and I proffered one of my bottle-cap designs, a turtle, and he was immediately taken with it and what it represented, but he was still mystified and asked, "Who do you think I am?". I don't recall what I said at that point, but I handed him a copy of my aphorisms and again he was impressed because he'd been writing down his own sayings. He said Jimmy Buffet had dubbed them, "Codgerisms".
From then on on we'd share a table at the coffee shop and over the next two years he told me about his life as a sculptor in New York and as a playwright, how at the moment he was struggling to write a screenplay of Toyer, and most of the other interesting episodes of his remarkable life. We talked about movies and television, and he had an idea for a TV show wherein he'd play an old ship's captain living in his beached, derelict schooner. His one word description of the Adventure in Paradise series was "unwatchable", and he may have wanted to bring back Adam Troy as a more interesting, believable character. I told him I knew Alan Burns, the co-creator of The Mary Tyler Moore Show (his niece had introduced me), and Gardner asked me to get in touch with him so he could pitch the idea. Nothing came of it, I'm sorry to say.
Two of my favorite Gardner quotes are, "I don't think I'll ever be old enough to play golf", and "Fast food should never be eaten slowly".
The pages fly by....at the end you only regret that you did not have a chance to meet Gardner McKay!