William's Reviews > One Fearful Yellow Eye: A Travis McGee Novel

One Fearful Yellow Eye by John D. MacDonald
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Only 2.5 Stars.

McGee away from Florida, away from nature mostly. Not his best arena.

As usual with my reviews, please first read the publisher’s blurb/summary of the book. Thank you.

There is one amazing quote that I keep remembering. MacDonald doesn’t like Chicago much, and on the lakeshore, on the deck of a house, he looks out...

The temperature was dropping, the wind increasing out of the north, and in the last grayness of the day I saw a full line of red in the west, like distant cities burning.

There are some fine and fun moments in this book, but there are also an endless series of poorly constructed rants on "modern life" (true and prescient in many ways), along with some dangerously silly pseudo-psychotherapies.

The book drags on through the middle and then the pace picks up a bit, but even the action sequences are bracketed by inconsequential verbiage.

McGee even brags repeatedly about his mastery of women and female psychology-- very distasteful.

Finally, there several highly unlikely info-dumps, an unlikely climax, and a very dissatisfying ending.

Overall, a terrible mess.

Lady Gloria's Mercedes 230SL, my favourite of all time

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Glory and the car were beautifully matched. They were both small, whippy, and well-made, and seemed to understand each other. There was that good feel of road-hunger, of the car that wants to reach and gobble more than you let it.

In 1966, McGee considers relative safety of mode of travel...
Just as, until we lost an astronaut, travel in orbit was the safest travel man ever devised with 0% mortality for millions upon millions of passenger miles. Safer than wheelchairs.
*** Technically, the only deaths IN space were the three crew of Soyuz 11 on June 30 1971, who died when their cabin depressurized at an altitude of 168km. The official definition of the beginning of space is 100km, so they just qualify. All the other space-related deaths have been on the ground, during launch, or re-entry below 100km.

From 1966 -
So in the night wind, the lake stank, and I went back in out of the wind, and thought of the endless garbage barges that are trundled out of Miami into the blue bright Atlantic. People had thought the lake would last forever. When the sea begins to stink, man better have some fresh green planets to colonize, because this one is going to be used up.

Wonderful -
At the corner of Huron something that was entirely girl came swinging along, and wrapped the whole thing up for me. Nearly six lithe feet of her, and unmistakably great handloomed tweeds in conservative cut, lizard purse and walking shoes and hair chestnut-brown and gleaming with health, styled with no trickery, bobbing to her resolute stride, and one gloved finger hooked through the string of a parcel wrapped in gold foil paper, and on her mouth a lovely secret smile, perhaps part memory, part anticipation, and part appreciation of the day and of the good feel of taking long strides, and part being lovely and young. There is something about seeing one like that which tries to break your heart. You will never know her, but you want it all to be great for her, all the parts of it, the wine, the Weather, the food, the people, the beds, the kids, the love, and the being old.

Bonus. From the 1970 "Darker Than Amber" movie starring Rod Taylor, pictures of the producers' ideas of McGee's "The Busted Flush":

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And finally, two great blogs about John D. MacDonald, McGee and the rumoured-never-written novel where McGee dies"...

The Birth of Travis McGee (fascinating)

"Black Border for McGee" (rumours surrounding a final book, never published)
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Reading Progress

March 11, 2019 – Started Reading
March 11, 2019 – Shelved
March 15, 2019 – Finished Reading

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