JoAnna Spring's Reviews > The Scarlet Ruse

The Scarlet Ruse by John D. MacDonald
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Sep 19, 09

bookshelves: fiction, travis-mcgee
Read in September, 2009

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 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.'"
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Kelly (new)

Kelly thank you, I like this writer and was trying to introduce a friend to the series who is "a boat bum" lol, as I thought he might enjoy it.


Laura You selected such excellent quotes ... makes me want to go back and read every JDM book all over again.


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