I often wish that books didn't have to have plots - that I could just hang out with the characters through their regular life things. Hazel and Gus ar...moreI often wish that books didn't have to have plots - that I could just hang out with the characters through their regular life things. Hazel and Gus are fantastic - apart and together. I love Issac and all the parents. It's sweet and fun to watch Hazel and Gus (teenage cancer kids) fall in love, figure stuff out, and deal with the world.
The plot involving the unfinished book and reclusive author in Amsterdam is a alright, I guess? A bit distracting and contrived.
The banter among characters, thoughtful observations about life, and slight fairy-talesque love story make the book (and the tears) worthwhile. (less)
Listened to the audio book read by Tina Fey. **LOVED EVERY MINUTE.** I think Tina Fey is the most hilarious person on the planet and her book is as in...moreListened to the audio book read by Tina Fey. **LOVED EVERY MINUTE.** I think Tina Fey is the most hilarious person on the planet and her book is as intelligent, sweet, goofy, and funny as you would expect. There is an appropriate mix of educated humor and fart jokes. She talks about her childhood, early career and work on SNL along with anecdotes from her adult life.
Brilliant. Totally brilliant. The audio book is less than 6 hours long and I only wish it were longer. (less)
A sweet fairytale with fantastic language. The plot unfolds slowly at first but the descriptions of the circus and the characters that are part of it...moreA sweet fairytale with fantastic language. The plot unfolds slowly at first but the descriptions of the circus and the characters that are part of it held my interest. I enjoyed the first 2/3rds of the book more than the end, when the plot intervenes and exposition is required - but this didn't detract badly.
I read much of this book during a really cold winter week on my Kindle fully under a tent of the blankets on my bed, which just added to the magic.
I wish this book were one-third of its length. it starts out promising science and objective info, but it's really mostly stories and subjective concl...moreI wish this book were one-third of its length. it starts out promising science and objective info, but it's really mostly stories and subjective conclusions. the author lost my trust when she contrasted a student's different experiences at Harvard business school and a summer in China...attributing the difference in environments primarily to introvert v extrovert cultures, ignoring the difference in political structures. Too many interesting topics are ignored in favor of Chicken soup for the soul type antidotes. Also, I can't take anyone seriously once they quote Malcolm Gladwell.(less)
I suppose if Leonardo DiCaprio wants to be Travis McGee in The Deep Blue Good-By, I guess I'm ok with it. Not because DiCaprio fits my image of McGee - at all - but because Good-By feels like such a different book than the later McGees. It's not as dark or broody. In fact, even with the death and horrifying crimes, the book is nearly bouncy. McGee doesn't have any scars yet, there is no mention of his time in Korea, he hasn't yet been involved in the death or injury of any friends. He's scrappy...but a fun kind of scrappy. Not yet burdened by years of defending friends and lovers against the worst humanity has to offer.
So...whatever. I guess DiCaprio with his pretty eyes, smooth skin, charitable donations, and environmental activism can play Early Travis McGee.
Good-By features Cathy, a single mom dancer who was swindled by a mean ole dude called Junior Allen. Allen spent a few years in a jail with Cathy's father who hid away scandalously-obtained riches that were unknown to his family. After Cathy's father died in jail, Allen was released, sought out Cathy's family and stole those riches. Being a classy guy, he used his new money to kidnap and torture a rich chick named Lois.
So, Trav's job is to find creepy Allen, restore some money to single mom Cathy and help heal broken rich chick Lois.
And it does it with a playfulness that I had forgotten from my original reading of the book years ago. He teases sick, stick-thin Lois into eating more, rather than manipulating her. He describes himself as "bright eyes and white teeth shining...the proper folk-hero crinkle at the corners of the eyes and the bashful appealing smile," rather than as in The Green Ripper 15 years later - "an artifact, genus boat bum, a pale-eyed, shambling, gangling, knuckly man, without enough unscarred hide left to make a decent lampshade." Even his cynicism and distrust of structure and establishment seems mild:
Maybe it isn't too late yet! Find the little woman, and go for the whole bit. Kiwanis, PTA, fund drives, cookouts, a clean desk, and vote the straight ticket, yessiree bob.
Yessiree bob? It's a different McGee than I've become accustomed to in the later books...but it's a lot of fun. It's a tidy little tale and a pretty good read.(less)
Up till I read his autobiography, I would have said that William Shatner was #1 on my list of coolest dudes on the planet. Now, I realize he is only p...moreUp till I read his autobiography, I would have said that William Shatner was #1 on my list of coolest dudes on the planet. Now, I realize he is only playing the coolest dude on the planet. There is a saying, "never meet your heroes." I would like to add "cautiously read the autobiography of the dude that you think is the coolest on the planet."
It's not that I won't enjoy Shatner's work in the future, it's just now I realize he's actually... human. And an actor. A very funny, intelligent and interesting actor, but now I can't be sure what is real and what is marketing. His current image - the quirky spoken word poetry, the self-depreciating humor, the goofy talk-show host - all seems a result of realizing that people ...audiences... like that version of him. They give Denny Crane Emmys, so Shatner consciously and deliberately becomes what people want - including a bit of Denny Crane. His current incarnation has been engineered.
He's an actor. Even when he's speaking at a convention as William Shatner. Or accepting an award. Or giving an interview. Or walking through the airport. He's acting.
It must be exhausting.
Up Till Now is a good book. Shatner has been working as an actor for eons and his career spans many phases of interesting culture changes. He started working in TV when it was a new media and his stories of the beginning of the industry provide interesting tidbits of history.
Shatner seems honest. Both about the flops in his career and mistakes in his personal life. He knows there are former co-workers that don't like him and he accepts at least partial culpability in those relationships. The insecurity and envy of actors (including Shatner) reminded me often of 30 Rock - Shatner throwing a fit because photographers were doing a feature on Spock in a shared make-up room without Shatner's permission, or Nimoy not speaking with Shatner - at all - for over a week due to a botched joke.
Shatner (or his co-writer) is a very good story teller and knows just how much to embellish to stay believable and keep readers hanging on every word of his misadventures involving poker tournaments, horse-riding injuries, epic canoe trips, poorly planned paintball wars. His wry humor had me giggling out loud throughout the book. Shatner's voice, and his unique speaking style, translate well to paper.
Shatner also seems genuinely fascinated by all aspects of life.
I recognize that I'm getting older. And I do think about my own mortality. And what I now know is that there are so many questions to which I'm never going to know the answer. We are born into mystery and we leave life in mystery. We don't know what transpired before and we don't know what's coming ahead. We don't know what life is. We don't know even the truth behind the assassination of JFK. Is there a God? What is time? There's everything we don't know.
He enjoys learning and trying new things. I doubt the man has ever said "no" to a new opportunity - hence the epic canoe trips and poorly planned paintball wars.
It is a choppy book, though, with some stories sort of crammed in randomly perhaps to make a chapter longer. At times, it feels chaotic and disorienting, and we're reminded that Shatner is an old man. Or trying too hard.
I'm glad I read Up Till Now, even it adds a little bit of skepticism to my enjoyment of Shatner's work in the future. He's still a ridiculously cool dude with the ability to tell a great story.(less)
You are going to be so sick of me telling you how much I love Travis McGee. No really, you are. There are 21 books, and having just read the penultima...moreYou are going to be so sick of me telling you how much I love Travis McGee. No really, you are. There are 21 books, and having just read the penultimate novel, I've decided to start at the beginning again, rather than read the last book. I'm just not ready to live in a world where there are no new McGees for me to read.
But more on that later. Today, we're gushing over Cinnamon Skin, which was written in 1982 and is the next-to-last book in the series. Quick plot recap, because apparently some people (such as my husband) think that "plot" is an important part of novels....
Travis McGee and his best bud Meyer live on houseboats in Florida. One day, while Meyer is in Canada lecturing about economics, his boat is blown up, killing a fishing guide his niece and her new husband, Evan. Or perhaps not. Apparently Evan is the real sketchy sort who floats around the country, gets women to fall in love with him and then kills them. McGee and Meyer set out to track Evan down and reconstruct his past. They end up in Texas, upstate New York and Mexico. They meet a lot of people and do a bit of sleuthing. There is a showdown. People get shot. The end.
If you are my husband and read a book for the story, Cinnamon Skin is routine hard-boiled fiction. If you are romantic, and fall in love with philosophical beach bums who run into more than their fair share of trouble, Cinnamon Skin is a story of devotion.
McGee and Meyer have that sitting-on-the-balcony-deconstructing-the-world-drinking-scotch kind of relationship - except their balconies are boats, and I think they prefer gin. Their years of friendship has led to complete trust and understanding of each other, so when Meyer thinks he might need Trav's professional detective assistance to track down evil Evan, Trav is insulted at Meyer's reluctance to impose.
Meyer speaks first: "You'd come help out if I come upon anything like that?" "Gee, I don't really know. I have these tennis matches with the ambassador's daughter, and I've been thinking of getting my teeth capped. You know how it is." "I'll pay all expenses." "For Christ's sweet sake, Meyer!" "I'm sorry. It's just that I'm not at home in the world the way I was." "You holler, I'll come running."
I love that author John MacDonald writes dialogue without exposition. He's created strong characters and carefully crafts conversations so I know just how Meyer and McGee are speaking without having to be told "Meyer asked timidly" or "Travis reassured him." That's the talent of a good writer who respects the intelligence of his readers.
MacDonald also had a talent for philosophizing on the workings of the world in a way that still feels totally relevant nearly 30 (or 50) years later. These bits are my absolute favorite parts, so please indulge a large excerpt here at the end.
A lead has taken Meyer and McGee to Utica, a small city in Central New York. In a resturant bar, McGee notices a group of young political professionals with "feverish gregariousness" and wonders why they "seemed so frantic about having a good time." Meyer's response nearly made me cry. My heart is in CNY. It's where I went to college, became my own person and fell in love. John MacDonald grew up there, and I think we share the same regret for the direction the region is heading.
Meyer studied the question and finally said, "It's energy without a productive outlet, I think. Most of these Mohawk Valley cities are dying, have been for years: Albany, Troy, Amsterdam, Utica, Syracuse, Rome. And so they make an industry out of government. State office buildings in the decaying downtowns. A proliferation of committees, surveys, advisory boards, commissions, legal actions, grants, welfare, zoning boards, road departments, health care groups... thousands upon thousands of people making a reasonably good living working for city, county, state and federal governments in these dwindling cities, passing the same tax dollars back and forth. I think that man, by instinct, is productive. He wants to make something, a stone ax, a bigger cave, better arrows, whatever. But these bright and energetic men know in their hearts they are not making anything. They use every connection, every contact, every device to stay within reach of public monies. Working within an abstraction is just not a totally honorable way of life. Hence the air of jumpy joy, the backslaps ringing too loudly, compliments too extravagant, toasts too ornate, marriages too brief, lawsuits too long-drawn, obligatory forms too complex and too long. Their city has gone stale and as the light wanes, they dance."
Seriously! It is fun stuff. Nearly as fun as blocking your first lace shawl or rolling around naked in your yarn stash.
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, aka the Yarn Harlot, is a knitter, a mum (she's Canadian), a doula, the inventor of the word "kinnearing" and a super fun writer. I've been reading her blog for a few months and finally picked up one of her books. Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter is described as "a sort of David Sedaris-like take on knitting," but it is really so much better. Yeah, her stories are a mix of fun and touching and mostly involve hilarity at her own expense, but Pearl-McPhee seems more honest and...well she talks about yarn and knitting a lot which I can relate to much easier than say, being a gay guy in France.
Also, to limit the Harlot's writing to a "take on knitting" is too narrow. She isn't a knitter who writes. She is a strong, self-aware, interesting woman who knows how to tell a good story and also spends a lot of time knitting.
In case you didn't know, by the way, knitting is, like REALLY cool right now. There has been a huge resurgence of fun young people learning to knit and Pearl-McPhee has been very much involved. The Secret Life of a Knitter is a collection of tales of her 30-something years as a knitter.
She gets it. She knows why people knit and she tells a good story that knitters can related to...the insanity of finishing knitted gifts hours before Christmas Day, running out of discontinued yarn with half a sleeve left to knit on your first sweater, convincing friends that wool is God's gift to people and really not at all scratchy, and explaining to your spouse why that lost double-pointed needle MUST be found even though it only cost $1 and there are a bazillion more at the store. When Pearl-McPhee described the overwhelming joy in blocking her first lace shawl, I had to put on my first shawl and restrain myself from shouting at the book "I know! Isn't it amazing?!"
The Harlot's best stories evoke honest emotions felt by all people, even if they aren't cool enough to be knitters - like the comforting an ill friend or reveling in the success of a new skill and conquering a challenging project. I loved her description of her nana - "a hard woman to love." She doesn't sugarcoat her childhood but relates honestly that, even though we love our family, sometimes it's darn hard to figure out why or how.
She's also very funny. On her teenage daughter who declared that knitting was "boring" and that she didn't want to do it:
I fear for her future. I really do. If knitting is "boring" then what's it going to take to hold her interest? Hitchhiking? Spearheading a revolution? Dropping acid? (Do kids still drop acid? That's something I should probably find out, now that my very own flesh and blood is talking about not knitting.) It's a slippery slope, I tell you. First you tell your mother that knitting is "boring" and next something horrible has happened, like drug addiction, not folding your laundry, or (God forbid!) declaring wool is "itchy."
Mostly I enjoy Pearl-McPhee because we share the same passion. She gets geeky over the same little things that I love about knitting - heels in socks ("that miracle, the cunning three-dimensional heel"), capturing bits of your life in a project ("I know it looks just like a hat, but really, it's four hours at the hospital, six hours on the bus, two hours alone at four in the morning when I couldn't sleep because I tend to worry"), and the wonder of wool.
The world has come a long way, and astonishing and intriguing machines arrive every day, but there is still not a machine on this earth that will shear a sheep. Every ball of wool starts with some man or woman somewhere in the world...holding fast to a pissed-off sheep while cutting its fleece free. Every ball of wool you and I have ever knit, all the balls of wool in the world in every country in the whole history of the world thus far, came from the sweat and grit of a person wrestling a hot, dirty, furious sheep.
And now that wool is on my (and the Yarn Harlot's) feet. Very cool.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator - MBTI, y'all. It's Jungian.
When the CERN rappers take on personality preferences, I'll totally let them use that to close...moreMyers-Briggs Type Indicator - MBTI, y'all. It's Jungian.
When the CERN rappers take on personality preferences, I'll totally let them use that to close out. Word to your SJ mother.
Myers-Briggs is the world's most used personality indicator and the basis for any understanding I have of all people. Please Understand Me II by David Keirsey covers practical aspects of the 16 Myers-Briggs types - communication style, decision making, interests, leadership style and tons more. It assumes, presumably because it is a sequel, that you have a basic understanding of MBTI and that you know your own type. I also found it helpful to think of people I know in the various types as I was reading about them. This encouraged revelations such as, "so, that is why my boss is an insane masochist."
The main message of Myers-Briggs, which is reinforced in this book, is that everyone is ok. Your family or that annoying jerk at Starbucks aren't trying to make you crazy. They have logical reasons for driving you nuts that are completely consistent with how they see the world. With a little knowledge and self-awareness you can figure out why that is and see them for the valuable, well-intentioned people that they are.
That is total shenanigans.
Here's what I got out of the book...as an iNtuitive (N) I view/perceive/take-in the world for its deeper meanings - the big picture - as opposed to Sensors (S) who focus on the concrete details which they take at face value. 85 percent of the world are Sensors, which explains why I don't gravitate toward social events involving small talk. 85 percent of the time I don't know how to contribute to the coversation. And people think I'm weird. Which, apparently, according to the numbers, I am.
Keirsey's take on Myers-Briggs is an interesting, and seemingly valid one, though he says it does contradict Myers' (of Myers-Briggs) analysis slightly. He breaks the 16 types into four main groups based on two factors: word usage and tool usage. You can use words in an abstract way (Ns as described above) or concretely (Ss). You can also use tools - and tools refers to nearly everything: roads, houses, clothes, politics - in a cooperative or utilitarian way. Cooperative usage means you consider the morals of the tool you are using based on societal or idealized norms. Utilitarian means you use tools in the most effective way to get the job done, whether or not it is moral.
The four types that result are Idealists (NF), Guardians (SJ), Rationals (NT) and Artisans (SP). The book has convenient stand-alone chapters for each type so you can skip around to read about yourself or your spouse right from the start. Each chapter contains an introduction story of a famous person of that type, a historical retrospective (Rationals were once referred to as "phlegmatics" because they are bland and detached like mucous), and a breakdown of self-image and orientation in the world.
At the end of the chapters, each of the 4 variants within the overarching types is described in detail - priorities, strengths, relationships. The format helps the reader understand what different variants have in common but also emphasizes the subtle unique qualities in the similar groupings. It helps make sense of why an introvert, scheduling (aka anal) idealist (INFJ) would gravitate towards working as a one-on-one counselor, while an extrovert, scheduling idealist (ENFJ) would prefer the group environment as a teacher.
I think the greatest value in understanding Myers-Briggs types is actually to use it as a self-discovery tool. I've always known I was a weirdo, but I was still shocked at realizing things that I thought were universal are actually particular to my type. Apparently, not everyone is burdened with the nagging feeling that they aren't living up to their full potential. The chapter on SPs (my polar opposites) nearly made me cry. Did you know there are people that get total and complete enjoyment out of the actual moment they are living in?!? They feel free to just do whatever makes them happy without any concern about whether they have to go to work tomorrow or if it will piss of their mother. That sounds amazing. And totally undoable for me.
I love Myers-Briggs and this was a great guide to the types. Totally recommended for anyone trying to figure out their families or coworkers or looking for a little more self-understanding. (less)
I am a self-loathing fiction snob. Cliched characters, bad dialog, unbelievable plots...these things make me crazy and chip away at the limited resolv...moreI am a self-loathing fiction snob. Cliched characters, bad dialog, unbelievable plots...these things make me crazy and chip away at the limited resolve I have to venture away from non-fiction. I want to love novels. I really, really do. But it doesn't often work. As a result, most of my reading is heavy - non-fiction or classic, proven novels, such as cheery Ethan Frome or Jane Eyre.
But sometimes a girl needs a break! A book for the beach! For this, I am so glad to have found John D. MacDonald and the Travis McGee series. Light, but not too light. Sex, guns and murder written for people with brains. I. Love. It.
Travis McGee describes himself as a "salvage consultant." He works to get back stuff that was taken from people. Typically his clients were fleeced legally and Trav works outside the law to earn retribution. He gets to keep half of whatever he reclaims.
But the plot of these 22 books is the least of the reasons to love them. Though they were written from the 60s to the 80s, the books feel very contemporary (with only the occasional reference to state-of-the-art tape decks). Trav and his best bud Meyer are intelligent, thoughtful, stand-up guys who also happen to live on house boats and be beach bums. Their observations of the world and people are timeless and refreshing. This, from Dress her in Indigo, sums it up nicely:
Old friend, there are people - young and old - that I like, and people that I do not like. The former are always in short supply. I am turned off by humorless fanaticism, whether it's revolutionary mumbo-jumbo by a young one, or loud lessons from the scripture by an old one. We are all comical, touching, slapstick animals, walking on our hind legs, trying to make it a noble journey from womb to tomb, and the people who can't see it all that way bore hell out of me.
There is a plot, however, to Free Fall in Crimson, and I imagine you'd like me to get on with it...
There is this dude, Ron, you see, and his very wealthy dad was killed, presumably by a mugger, at a rest stop. The police investigate and determine it was random. Ron isn't so sure and asks Travis to investigate. There were technicalities with the dad's sizable estate that cast suspicion on a few swarthy folks. The trail entangles Travis with biker gangs, the movie industry and a bunch of hot air ballonists. There is a porn ring and a small town mob. The story keeps the book moving quickly and many interesting characters get to play, including Lysa Dean, the sexy, shallow movie star Travis worked for in A Quick Red Fox.
Free Fall in Crimson is a late McGee - written in '81 - and there are only two stories left in the series. It is obvious Trav (and MacDonald) are getting older. The last few books have hinted at Trav's retirement or demise and he is obtaining an unattractive arrogance and detachment to the mayhem he consistently invites.
Throughout the series, however, Travis and Meyer have been consistently lovable and the books have been reliably good. A great, semi-mindless read. I'm nervous that I am coming to their end. If you haven't read these books, I'd recommend giving them a go. Lovers of Carl Hiaasen and USA's Burn Notice will find many similarities.
There are always a handful of observations worth dog-earing the pages for in every McGee. I leave you now with my favorite bit from the book - Meyer relating an encounter on the beach:
There was a gaggle of lanky young pubescent lassies on the beach, one of the early invasions of summer, all of them from Dayton, Ohio, all of them earnest, sunburnt and inquisitive. They were huddled around a beached sea slug, decrying its exceptional ugliness, and I took a hand in the discussion, told them its life pattern, defensive equipment, normal habitat, natural enemies, and so on. And I discovered to my great pleasure that this batch was literate! They had read books. Actual books. They had all read Lives of a Cell and are willing to read for the rest of their lives. They had all been exposed to the same teacher in the public school system there, and he must be a fellow of great conviction. In a nation floundering in functional illiteracy, sinking into the pre-chewed pulp of television, it heartens me to know that here and there are little groups of young-uns who know what an original idea tastes like, who know that the written word is the only possible vehicle for transmitting a complex concept from mind to mind, who constantly flex the muscles in their heads and make them stronger.
Crazy how the removal of "until" changes the entire meaning of that little vow. It turns a sweet sentiment into a vengeful, angry act.
Death do us Part...moreCrazy how the removal of "until" changes the entire meaning of that little vow. It turns a sweet sentiment into a vengeful, angry act.
Death do us Part is a collection of 19 short stories on "love, lust and murder" - some sweet, some vengeful. The best stories in the book deal with honest, believable emotion and the worst are lazy, unimaginative cliches. Two stories, including "Wifey," a version of "The Tell-Tale Heart" with a dog (by R.L. Stine of Scholastic Goosebumps fame), involved unpredictably insane dudes that I don't want to talk about lest they show up in my dreams with their freakish serial killer creepiness.
Most of the stories, however, revolve around typical fiction folk. All the great wars are covered as you would expect them to be:
* The young slave girl during the Civil War who has a showdown with her Master, an abusive, idiotic hick. * The devoted World War I home-front wife who is lost without her husband (spoiler...he dies, but she gets a kitten, so it's all better. Seriously. It's a bad story and now you don't have to read it). * The old vet of the Greatest Generation avenging his wife's death by a drunk driver.
Continuing on with the chiches, is an Italian immigrant in NY/NJ - it doesn't matter - who has his wife's lover killed by the mob. Inventive, no? Another story, told in IM transcripts, covers cyber love. And "Heat Lightening" is the story of a poor young farmer on droughted land with a slowly-dying wife. He takes a class a community college and has an affair with his teacher, falling in love over Vonnegut. Uh...vomit.
There are a few good, unique stories, starting with the first one "Queeny" by Ridley Pearson. In eight pages the story zips through 875 days in the life of a man whose wife is missing and presumed murdered. The husband narrates the story of the search, trial and eventual conclusion with honest emotion and carefully chosen words. No space is wasted and the story is a treat.
"The Masseuse" is an engaging story by Tim Wohlforth about an unusual arrangement between a man and his masseuse. "Safe Enough" by Lee Child is an inoffensive tale of a blue collar city guy and his Whole Foods-loving suburban chick. Their relationship starts with intrigue and contentment but quickly sours when they can't overcome their differences. She finds him to be boring: "He didn't know anything. And his family was a pack of wild animals." He can no longer tolerate her snobbish nature: "So smug, so superior. She didn't like baseball. And she said that even if she did she wouldn't root for the Yankees. They just bought everything. Like she didn't?" Murder and mayhem commence.
"A Few Small Repairs" by Jeff Abbott is my favorite story in the book. Frank is a former drug addict whose father has lung cancer. As they work to repair their relationship in a hospital with "the reek of the old man dying," Daddy asks Frank for a radical favor. The compelling 16 page story revolves around Frank's decision related to Daddy's request. Frank is a well-considered character which quite a bit of self-awareness, which makes this man vs. himself tale a good read.
Outside of these three stories, however, there is a lot of fluff. It is interesting to see how 19 different writers take the same assignment and end up with entirely different products, but, as with most things, the result is lots of crap with just a few gems.(less)
Engaging, fun summer read. Meyer (the hairy economist philosopher) has an old friend (that is, the friend is an old man) who manages fancy stamp colle...moreEngaging, fun summer read. Meyer (the hairy economist philosopher) has an old friend (that is, the friend is an old man) who manages fancy stamp collections. An big book of expensive rare stamps being managed for a mob guy has been mysteriously replaced with a big book of worthless stamps. Trav takes the case, hooks up with an interesting chick, and figures it all out.
It was written in '73 and I am sad at how far it seems we haven't come:
"Meyer made one of his surveys of the elderly couple in the Fort Lauderdale area, the ones being squeezed between the cost of living and their Social Security. They were very bitter about it. They were very accusatory about it. Amurrica should give them the financial dignity they had earned."
Meyer's analysis of the true cause of their dissatisfaction:
"all too many of them were screwed by consumer advertising. Spend, spend, spend. Live for today. So they lived out their lives up to their glottis in time payments. They blew it all on boats and trailers and outboard motors, binoculars and hunting rifles and department store high fashion. They lived life to the hilt, as the ads suggest. Not to the hilt of pleasure, but to the hilt of spending."
... "Now their anger is directed outward, at society, because they don't dare look back and think how pathetically vulnerable they were, how many thousands they blew on toys that broke before they were paid for, and how many thousands on the interest charges to buy those toys. They don't know who screwed them. They did what everybody else was doing."
Over 30 years later and we still don't get it. Combined with this bit, I can completely relate to Trav's mood:
"Suddenly I felt bleak, oddly depressed. It took a moment to realize that one of Meyer's recent lectures on international standards of living was all too well remembered.
'...so divide everything into two hundred million equal parts. Everything in this country that is fabricated. Steel mills, speedboats, cross-country power lines, scalpels, watch bands, fish rods, ski poles, plywood, storage batteries, everything. Break it down into basic raw materials and then compute the power requirements and the fossil fuels needed to make everybody's share in this country. Know what happens if you apply that formula to all the peoples of all other other nations of the world?
'You come up against a bleak fact, Travis. There is not enough material on and in the planet to ever give them what we're used to.'"(less)
It's probably not John MacDonald's fault I didn't finish this book. I tried to read it in little pieces and kept losing the story.
One of Trav's friend...moreIt's probably not John MacDonald's fault I didn't finish this book. I tried to read it in little pieces and kept losing the story.
One of Trav's friends is missing and he goes to Mexico to check it out. Lots of money shenanigans and real estate blah blah.
As I have come to expect, however, I love McGee a little more with each book:
"The sun bleaches my hair and burns it and dries it out. And the salt water makes it feel stiff and look like some kind of Dynel [I have no idea what that is....:]. Were I going to keep it long, I would have to take care of it. That would mean tonics and lotions and special shampoos. That would mean brushing it and combing it a lot more than I do and somehow fastening it out of the way in a stiff breeze. Life is so full of all those damned minor things you have to do anyway, it seems nonproductive to go looking for more. So I go hoe the hair down when it attracts my attention. The length is not an expression of any social, economic, emotional, political, or chronographic opinion. It is on account of being lazy and impatient." (less)