Paperback Writer


WaPo's Jonathan Yardley offers a welcome appreciation of John D. MacDonald, the more-read-than-praised author of Tough Guy paperback originals. MacDonald's most enduring creation is certainly the Travis McGee series; Yardley writes that McGee "is one of the great characters in contemporary American fiction—not crime fiction; fiction, period…."

Yardley recalls that he was surprised by MacDonald when he first read his stuff. "This man whom I'd snobbishly dismissed as a paperback writer turned out to be a novelist of the highest professionalism and a social critic armed with vigorous opinions stingingly expressed. His prose had energy, wit and bite, his plots were humdingers, his characters talked like real people, and his knowledge of the contemporary world was—no other word will do—breathtaking."

NEXT: Artistic Yearnings

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  1. He’s just another McAuthor.

  2. Don’t miss the non-McGee novel, The End of the Night, about a group of young spree killers. Hell of a book.

  3. Any author who’s protagonist is best friends with an economist is OK by me (even if said economist named his boat the John Maynard Keynes).

  4. Travis McGee is one of my all time favorite fictional characters. The novels are a good read and to this day I will never forgive John D MacDonald for dieing. The last Mcgee novel(The Lonely Siver Rain),introduced the daughter that Mcgee never knew he had at the end of the book.The plot possibilities that could have been in future McGee still intrigues me.

  5. There’s a line about Travis McGee and John MacDonald in a old Jimmy Buffett song (“Incommunicado”). I never knew what the reference was about until I saw this. Thanks, Reason.

  6. As a teen in the late 60s and early 70s, my mother read all the Travis MacGee novels. There was always a color in the title. I read them all as well when she was done, and have not forgotten them.

    I was a budding libertarian then, and those novels “fit.”

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