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The Deep Blue Good-By (Travis McGee, #1)
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Archive - Group Reads > Deep Blue Good-By, The - February 2015

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message 1: by Chava (new)

Chava | 2788 comments THis is the thread for the discussion about The deep blue good-bye by John D MacDonald. Your moderator is Daniel, thank you.


message 2: by Karen (new) - added it

Karen (karen94066) | 262 comments I read this almost 20 years ago, but remember parts of it very well. I enjoyed the mystery part but was turned off by the protagonist's attitudes. I never read another in the series, but I have collected them to see if they differed as time progressed. I suspect that the author would not have made many changes after such a successful first book.


Freda Malone | 33 comments Just finished this book. A nice tale of an underdog who can't say 'no' to a damsel in distress.


message 4: by Karen (new) - added it

Karen (karen94066) | 262 comments Does anyone know if Daniel is okay?


Freda Malone | 33 comments I was wondering that myself, has anyone seen him around?


Daniel | 27 comments Sorry all, I somehow saw what won the poll, but didn't notice this one made it as well. Sorry for being no-show on it up till now.

This one is the first in the whole McGee series, so I love it partially for just starting the whole thing going.

I'm curious what people's immediate thoughts are on McGee as a character, especially given that so much has changed in the world and our expectations of people in the time since this was first written. I'm also curious who has read it (or other McGee stories) and who is a first timer.

I'm also happy to share some of my thoughts on what makes this character still interesting to me.


message 7: by Daniel (last edited Feb 13, 2015 07:41AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Daniel | 27 comments A few thoughts on McGee and The Deep Blue Good-by:

McGee is one of those rare ongoing characters in detective type stories who is neither any kind of cop or a private investigator. He's basically just some guy. I think a lot of modern writers would have trouble jumping off an ongoing character who didn't always have a super solid reason to be getting involved in all of these adventures. It seems to me that Macdonald was more than okay with that distinction, in fact, he treats it like a kind of advantage. Being an outsider to the system, he can move in and around things with fresh eyes. I'm not sure if I agree, but it's a fair perspective.

What I find more compelling about him is the clarity of his vision for what life is about. In some ways, McGee is like a classic character from Greek or Norse Mythology, a knight errant stuck in the wrong world. He was an environmentalist before there was any such thing and not because of some statistical reason or argument for saving species or shrinking rain forests but for the simplest reasons there are: (1) space is freeing and using it all up strangles us bit by bit, and (2) the world is full of beautiful landscapes that tend to become swallowed by technological progress. In fact, very little of the spaces that McGee visited even exist anymore in the form he wrote about them. The process he described has kept rolling forward and it seems that soon we really will be just one long strip mall from one end of the globe to the other.

What's immediately striking to me about those reasons is that they aren't "noble" or "important" reasons in the sense that environmentalism expects now. But then, I don't think you'd have caught him within a hundred yards of anything called "environmentalism".

The world changed underneath McGee and through the series we see him trying his best to come to grips with that shifting landscape. He fares better in some areas than others, but in this book, we see his central ideas laid out without really distracting from the story and that seems like a bit of a lost art. Many modern series writers are far more interested in riding plots into the sunset with the occasional bit of what they call "character development", which usually means learning more about the person's back story as a way of making it easier for the reader to empathize with the character. In the process, we usually end up almost no idea about who this person is. Because we know what they've seen and done, writers seem to think their job is done, but what's missing there is some attempt to help us understand how that character views the world.

You can't get through Deep Blue Good-by without having a pretty clear idea of how Travis McGee sees the world and once you have it, you sort of understand his behavior and decision making on a far deeper level than you would if you just know about the mean parents he had or that time he wrecked his car on prom night (or whatever else passes for "character development" these days).

McGee is not just a fighter, he's also a lover. This becomes interesting to me in a couple of ways. First, he is a classic case of the old Magic Penis trope, which you don't see much anymore, mostly because it's silly. I don't mind it in the context of the story too much, but it's one of the areas that I can understand people getting annoyed by. Second, the way he writes and thinks about inter-gender relationships is hugely colored by the era he lives in. It's not exactly Mad Men, but a little of what Mad Men is trying so hard to talk about/mock is certainly evident in these books. I would love to get some female perspectives on how this comes across to you in the modern world. Is the way he treats the women in his life sweet and romantic or kind of patronizing by modern standards?

What stands out to you when reading this?


Daniel | 27 comments Karen wrote: "I enjoyed the mystery part but was turned off by the protagonist's attitudes."

I'd love to hear more about this.


message 9: by Karen (new) - added it

Karen (karen94066) | 262 comments Well, I also did not care for Mad Men, so I guess this truely is of the same mold.

Having lived there, done that, I was not anxious to wallow in it any further.

The thinking of strong male and helpless female just sits wrong these days. It certainly was successful for many years.

I did read it several decades ago, and I did collect more of them to read, but so many great books came along that interested me more.

I have to admit, not many books that I read so long ago strike such a vivid remembrance. Not the plot, but the feel of it.

Thanks Daniel, your comments are very helpful. I am hanging on to those other McGee's for the right time.

If anyone has a particular favorite, please let me know.


message 10: by Paige (new) - added it

Paige | 31 comments Ah Ha! This book just arrived in the mail yesterday and I could not remember who recommmended it or why I bought it! Now I know, it was a discussion in this group ! I started it last month and finished 100 pages last night - does that tell you it is a good book? This is the first book of his I have read. Thanks for recommending this one whoever did!

Paige


Daniel | 27 comments Paige wrote: " I started it last month and finished 100 pages last night - does that tell you it is a good book? This is the first book of his I have read. Thanks for recommending this one whoever did!."

You're welcome. It's a good one. I've read about 30 of John D MacDonald's books and so far, they are all worth reading. It's fun to discover an author with so much left to read.


message 12: by Paige (new) - added it

Paige | 31 comments That is true!! I will look up more MacDonald's books.

Thanks!!
Paige


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