The Jaded Wisdom of Travis McGee

 

“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.” The Deep Blue Good-By

”There is only one way to make people talk more than they care to. Listen. Listen with hungry earnest attention to every word. In the intensity of your attention, make little nods of agreement, little sounds of approval. You can’t fake it. You have to really listen. In a posture of gratitude. And it is such a rare and startling experience for them, such a boon to ego, such a gratification of self, to find a genuine listener, that they want to prolong the experience. And the only way to do that is to keep talking. A good listener is far more rare than an adequate lover.” Nightmare in Pink

”My window was open. The room was dark. I could hear the rip and whuffle of traffic on 87, the music from the drivein, a muffled clatter of pins from the Idle Hour Lanes. Children no longer yelped in the pool. The television next door was turned high. A couple walked by my window, the woman saying, “… nose running all day so you let her swim til she turns blue for God’s sake, Harry …” I turned on a light and shut the window and fiddled with the big window unit until I had it adjusted to send a vague panting of warm air into the room, accompanied by such a grinding and rattling and droning that all sounds of the outside world were gone. This is the new privacy, the wall of noise which provides the nerve-nibbling solitude of the machine shop.” A Purple Place For Dying

“Lie detectors. God alone knows how many industry owns. Not satisfied anymore with giving you the whole series of Multiphasic Personality Inventory tests, they want to make damn well certain you are not merely giving them the answers you think they want. They want to nail you into your permanent box right now, brother. Get in and lie still, and forty years from now we’ll bury you. I get this crazy feeling. Every once in a while I get it. I get the feeling that this is the last time in history when the offbeats like me will have a chance to live free in the nooks and crannies of the huge and rigid structure of an increasingly codified society. Fifty years from now I would be hunted down in the street. They would drill little holes in my skull and make me sensible and reliable and adjusted.” The Quick Red Fox

“We are doing something wrong. We haven’t found out what it is yet. But somehow we have turned all these big glossy universities into places which the thinking young ones, the mavericks, the ones we need the most, cannot endure. So all the campuses are in the hands of the unaware, the incurably, unconsciously second class kids with second class minds and that ineffably second class goal of reasonable competence, reasonable security, reasonable happiness.” A Deadly Shade of Gold

“Acquaintance rather than friend. The dividing line is communication, I think. A friend is someone to whom you can say any jackass thing that enters your mind. With acquaintances, you are forever aware of their slightly unreal image of you, and to keep them content, you edit yourself to fit. Many marriages are between acquaintances. You can be with a person for three hours of your life and have a friend. Another one will remain an acquaintance for thirty years.” Bright Orange for the Shroud

“You can be at ease only with those people to whom you can say any damn fool thing that comes into your head, knowing they will respond in kind, and knowing that any misunderstandings will be thrashed out right now, rather than buried deep and given a chance to fester.” Darker Than Amber

“If there was one sunset every twenty years, how would people react to them? If there were ten seashells in all the world, what would they be worth? If people could make love just once a year, how carefully would they pick their mates?” One Fearful Yellow Eye

“You never do anything for no reason at all, and you never refrain from doing something for no reason at all. Sometimes it just takes a little longer for the reason to get unstuck from the bottom of the brew and float to the top where you can see it.” Pale Gray For Guilt

“The years from seventeen to twenty-three cover a long, long time of change and learning. She had crossed that boundary that separates children from people. Her eyes no longer dismissed me with the same glassy and patronizing indifference with which she might stare at a statue in a park. We were now both people, aware of the size of many traps, aware of the narrowing dimensions of choice.” The Girl In The Plain Brown Wrapper

“There are some things which practice does not enhance. Thunderstorms never practice. Surf does not take graduate lessons in hydraulics. Deer and rabbits do not measure how high they have jumped and go back and try again. Violinists must work at it and study. And ballerinas. And goalies and shortstops and wingbacks and acrobats. But that business of acquiring expertise in scr*wing turns it into something it wasn’t meant to be.” Dress Her In Indigo

“So I was whipping along, but alert for the wildlife. I hate to kill a raccoon. Urban Florida is using the rabies myth to justify wiping them out, with guns, traps, and poison. The average raccoon is more affable, intelligent, and tidy than the average meathead who wants them eliminated, and is usually a lot better looking. It is both sad and ironic that the areas where the raccoon are obliterated are soon overrun with snakes.” The Long Lavender Look

“We’re all children. We invent the adult facade and don it and try to keep the buttons and the medals polished. We’re all trying to give such a good imitation of being an adult that the real adults in the world won’t catch on. Each of us takes up those shticks that compose the adult image we seek.” A Tan And Sandy Silence

“Very difficult for young people these days. Or any days. In what golden epoch was being a teenager a constant joy? There has always been a generation gap. It is called twenty years. Too much talk about unresponsive government, napalm, irrelevant education. Maybe the real point is that young lives have no accepted focal point. The tribe gives them no responsibilities, no earned privileges, no ceremonial place. In the family unit they do not fit into a gap between generations, because the generations are diffused. Maybe that is why they are scurrying pell-mell back to improvised tribal conditions, to communes. The schools have tried, in loco parentis, to fill a vacuum, condition the young on a fun-reward system. It has been a rotten try.” The Scarlet Ruse

“Integrity is not a conditional word. It doesn’t blow in the wind or change with the weather. It is your inner image of yourself, and if you look in there and see a man who won’t cheat, then you know he never will. Integrity is not a search for the rewards for integrity. Maybe all you ever get for it is the largest kick in the a** the world can provide. It is not supposed to be a productive asset.” The Turquoise Lament 

“Guilt is the most merciless disease of man. It stains all the other areas of living. It darkens all skies.” The Dreadful Lemon Sky

“Florida can never really come to grips with saving the environment because a very large percentage of the population at any given time just got here. So why should they fight to turn the clock back? It looks great to them the way it is. Two years later, as they are beginning to feel uneasy, a few thousand more people are just discovering it all for the first time and wouldn’t change a thing. And meanwhile the people who knew what it was like twenty years ago are an ever-dwindling minority, a voice too faint to be heard.” The Empty Copper Sea

“The mystique of pushing yourself past your limits. The age of shin splints, sprung knees, and new hernias. An office-softened body in its middle years needs a long, long time to come around. Until a man can walk seven miles in two hours without blowing like a porpoise, without sweating gallons, without bumping his heart past 120, it is asinine to start jogging.” The Green Ripper

“We’re all lots of people, I guess. We become different people in response to different times and places, different duties. Maybe in a lifetime we become a very limited bunch of people when, in fact, we could become many many more—if life moved us around more.” Free Fall In Crimson

“Soon the bosses of the microcomputer revolution will sell us preprogrammed units for each household which will provide entertainment, print out news, purvey mail-order goods, pay bills, balance accounts, keep track of expenses, and compute taxes. But by then the future managers will be over on the far side of the thickets, dealing with bubble memories, machines that design machines, projects so esoteric our pedestrian minds cannot comprehend them. It will be the biggest revolution of all, bigger than the wheel, bigger than Franklin’s kite, bigger than paper towels.” Cinnamon Skin

“Communication is a process of interpreting symbols. Words are symbols. Gestures and gifts and touchings are symbols. In any life we misinterpret more than we should, perhaps because our deepest intentions are at odds with the messages we project.” The Lonely Silver Rain

Published in Entertainment
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  1. OldPhil Coolidge
    OldPhil
    @OldPhil

    I still have half a dozen Travis McGee books to find and read.

    • #1
  2. Clavius Thatcher
    Clavius
    @Clavius

    I may have a new book series to read…

    • #2
  3. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Clavius (View Comment):

    I may have a new book series to read…

    They are worth it. Travis McGee is a “salvage consultant” He keeps half of whatever he recovers (that part has been known to vary on a case by case basis). His business is streaky, so he’s taking his retirement in installments. MacDonald’s worst books are better than anything Dan Brown has ever written.

    • #3
  4. Clavius Thatcher
    Clavius
    @Clavius

    Percival (View Comment):
    better than anything Dan Brown has ever written.

    Unfortunately, that is not saying much.

    I do continue to enjoy Bernard Cornwell.

    • #4
  5. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Clavius (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    better than anything Dan Brown has ever written.

    Unfortunately, that is not saying much.

    I do continue to enjoy Bernard Cornwell.

    MacDonald was an excellent writer.

    • #5
  6. JustmeinAZ Member
    JustmeinAZ
    @JustmeinAZ

    John D, MacDonald was purty derned smart. I started reading those books before I was 20 (my Dad had them). I think I have to read them all again.

    • #6
  7. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    “Damn, that was a lot of quotes.” – The Black Mood

    • #7
  8. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    “Damn, that was a lot of quotes.” – The Black Mood

    “I’d like to thank Popular Highlights for easy quote access.”

    • #8
  9. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    “Damn, that was a lot of quotes.” – The Black Mood

    Good ones, too. Good enough to make me regret that I don’t read fiction. 

    • #9
  10. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    “Damn, that was a lot of quotes.” – The Black Mood

    One per book in the Travis McGee series. They appear to be in series order, too.

    • #10
  11. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    Percival (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    “Damn, that was a lot of quotes.” – The Black Mood

    One per book in the Travis McGee series. They appear to be in series order, too.

    Correct!

    • #11
  12. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    “Damn, that was a lot of quotes.” – The Black Mood

    One per book in the Travis McGee series. They appear to be in series order, too.

    Correct!

    Put me in a used book store and I’s have it properly organized in three working days.

    • #12
  13. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    If you enjoy Travis MvGee, James W. Hall’s Thorn is cut from similar cloth and nicely carries on the tradition.

    https://amzn.to/3nS9CiS

    • #13
  14. JosePluma, Local Man of Mystery Thatcher
    JosePluma, Local Man of Mystery
    @JosePluma

    Percival (View Comment):

    MacDonald’s worst books are better than anything Dan Brown has ever written.

    High praise indeed.

    • #14
  15. Jim O Member
    Jim O
    @JimO

    My aunt Jane got me started reading these when I was a teenager. I loved them too.

    I just happened to take one off the shelf last weekend, and saw Jane’s signature on the inside cover. She has been gone for several decades now… A bittersweet moment.

    Thanks for the memory!

    • #15
  16. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    From Nightmare in Pink, still only $1.99 on Kindle.

    “There was a preponderance of poodles. This is the most desperate breed there is. They are just a little too bright for the servile role of dogdom. So their loneliness is a little more excruciating, their welcomes more frantic, their desire to please a little more intense. They seem to think that if they could just do everything right, they wouldn’t have to be locked up in the silence—pacing, sleeping, brooding, enduring the swollen bladder. That’s what they try to talk about. One day there will appear a super-poodle, one almost as bright as the most stupid alley cat, and he will figure it out. He will suddenly realize that his loneliness is merely a by-product of his being used to ease the loneliness of his Owner. He’ll tell the others. He’ll leave messages. And some dark night they’ll all start chewing throats.”

    • #16
  17. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    This reminds me how lucky I was to have Travis McGee and Archie Goodwin as childhood friends.

    • #17
  18. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    This reminds me how lucky I was to have Travis McGee and Archie Goodwin as childhood friends.

    Not to mention Meyer. What a great character. The man with the business cards announcing that he is a “Certified Guarantor.”

    If you happen to see one for sale, the McGee books narrated by Darren McGavin are sublime. There is a new one on Audible with a different narrator that I can’t stand to listen to. It may be that I’m spoiled by wearing out the McGee/McGavin cassettes…they were one of the first of my mountain of cassettes to be transferred to MP3 and stored on a hard drive.

    • #18
  19. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    This reminds me how lucky I was to have Travis McGee and Archie Goodwin as childhood friends.

    Not to mention Meyer. What a great character. The man with the business cards announcing that he is a “Certified Guarantor.”

    If you happen to see one for sale, the McGee books narrated by Darren McGavin are sublime. There is a new one on Audible with a different narrator that I can’t stand to listen to. It may be that I’m spoiled by wearing out the McGee/McGavin cassettes…they were one of the first of my mountain of cassettes to be transferred to MP3 and stored on a hard drive.

    So, uh, where have you uploaded those mp3s and where is the download link? 

    ;-)

    • #19
  20. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    This reminds me how lucky I was to have Travis McGee and Archie Goodwin as childhood friends.

    Not to mention Meyer. What a great character. The man with the business cards announcing that he is a “Certified Guarantor.”

    If you happen to see one for sale, the McGee books narrated by Darren McGavin are sublime. There is a new one on Audible with a different narrator that I can’t stand to listen to. It may be that I’m spoiled by wearing out the McGee/McGavin cassettes…they were one of the first of my mountain of cassettes to be transferred to MP3 and stored on a hard drive.

    So, uh, where have you uploaded those mp3s and where is the download link?

    ;-)

    Hmm. Possible winter project.

    • #20
  21. JustmeinAZ Member
    JustmeinAZ
    @JustmeinAZ

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    This reminds me how lucky I was to have Travis McGee and Archie Goodwin as childhood friends.

    Not to mention Meyer. What a great character. The man with the business cards announcing that he is a “Certified Guarantor.”

    If you happen to see one for sale, the McGee books narrated by Darren McGavin are sublime. There is a new one on Audible with a different narrator that I can’t stand to listen to. It may be that I’m spoiled by wearing out the McGee/McGavin cassettes…they were one of the first of my mountain of cassettes to be transferred to MP3 and stored on a hard drive.

    My library has never had any audio available so I’ll to get the ones at Audible. Maybe they’ll be OK since I’m not spoiled by another voice. I’ll just start with one.

    • #21
  22. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    This reminds me how lucky I was to have Travis McGee and Archie Goodwin as childhood friends.

    Not to mention Meyer. What a great character. The man with the business cards announcing that he is a “Certified Guarantor.”

    If you happen to see one for sale, the McGee books narrated by Darren McGavin are sublime. There is a new one on Audible with a different narrator that I can’t stand to listen to. It may be that I’m spoiled by wearing out the McGee/McGavin cassettes…they were one of the first of my mountain of cassettes to be transferred to MP3 and stored on a hard drive.

    So, uh, where have you uploaded those mp3s and where is the download link?

    ;-)

    Hmm. Possible winter project.

    If you would like me to do that work for you (creating a Travis audio page off my website and uploading the files), contact me. https://markandrealexander.com/contact/

    • #22
  23. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    This reminds me how lucky I was to have Travis McGee and Archie Goodwin as childhood friends.

    Not to mention Meyer. What a great character. The man with the business cards announcing that he is a “Certified Guarantor.”

    If you happen to see one for sale, the McGee books narrated by Darren McGavin are sublime. There is a new one on Audible with a different narrator that I can’t stand to listen to. It may be that I’m spoiled by wearing out the McGee/McGavin cassettes…they were one of the first of my mountain of cassettes to be transferred to MP3 and stored on a hard drive.

    So, uh, where have you uploaded those mp3s and where is the download link?

    ;-)

    Hmm. Possible winter project.

    If you would like me to do that work for you (creating a Travis audio page off my website and uploading the files), contact me. https://markandrealexander.com/contact/

    Thanks. I’ll make a note and get back to you. Always glad to have a co-conspirator. 

    • #23
  24. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    The original and the best.

    • #24
  25. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    From A Purple Place for Dying:

    It was cool in the deep shade. She squeezed at grief, miserly, choking at it. I could feel a terrible tension building in her, rising, and then it broke at last, in a great yawning loosened yaffling animal sob. All the wires had broken, and she could lose herself in it, throwing herself into each spasm, all softened and steaming and hopeless, freed for a time from that terrible prison of the highly complex personality wherein they are condemned always to observe themselves as though standing a bit to one side, watching themselves. A clot of young boys came down the alley, stared, sniggered, guffawed, made obscene gestures and went on. She settled into a dull rhythm, and after a long time that began to die. With the slow persistence of the sick or the very drunk she began to push herself away from me, to sort herself out, dogged and weary.

    • #25
  26. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    From The Quick Red Fox:

    After a little time I put the twelve photographs back into the envelope. I took a slow turn around the room. I am too big a boy to be churned up by the explicits of other people’s kicks.

    Nor did I feel any compulsion to make moral judgment. These were modern animals caught in black and white at their silly play. Such sport was not for me, and very probably not for anyone whose friendship I claimed. There seemed to be some kind of severe selection involved. An acceptance of that presupposed an inability to accept or believe in a lot of other things. Personal dignity for one.

    But something still bothered me, something I could not quite define. So I took them out and shuffled through them again. The clue was there. It was the terrible loneliness on their faces. Each one of them, in all that lazy confusion of intimacies, in that lexicon of clinical descriptions, looked utterly, desperately alone.

    And they were beautiful people. Lysa Dean was the featured player in every shot, and her body was as superb as its promise.

    I felt as if I had glimpsed the edge of some great paradox. The grotesque ultimate of togetherness is the final loneliness of the human spirit. And once you had been that far out on that barren limb, there was no chance of ever coming all the way back.

    • #26