The Long Lavender Look, John D. MacDonald

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The Long Lavender Look, John D. MacDonald, Fawcett, 1970, ISBN 0-449-13834-8, $2.25

I’m constantly amazed at the hold that MacDonald asserts over me as a reader, certainly with this character Travis McGee. The beginnings always seem to jump right off, even when they also seem to ramble, like in this one (McGee talking of late night rides, fishing, his old Rolls Royce truck) or the McGee novel that starts with McGee and Meyer fishing by the bridge. There’s hook there, yes–a bit of action occurs within the first three pages that starts┬áthe novel rolling–but it isn’t the immediate hook of the short story or the long rambling set ups of most novels (I’m thinking of the info dumps that start most SF/F/H novels).

The hook isn’t the only thing going for MacDonald, though. The sentences and chapters seem to flow, to beg to be read. Since I was reading this novel on breaks, at lunch, and other different odd times, I tended to read only a chapter or two at a time. Rarely did I end a chapter when I didn’t find myself unconsciously moving on the beginning of the next. Part of this is due to the standard technique of cliff-hanging chapters, which MacDonald has down well. But MacDonald’s cliff-hangers aren’t just situations, it seems to me, but the words themselves. I need to examine the chapter endings to see if I can identify what he is doing. Since I’m reading the McGee novels in chronological order, I’ll try to do it with the next.

[Finished 9 February 1993]

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