CONDOMINIUM John D. Mac Donald
by Nancy J. Miller
(Red Banks Wisconsin)
JOHN D. MAC DONALD
My father introduced me to his favorite author when I was just out of college and beginning my career as a dental hygienist in 1972. I began to read John D. Mac Donald and through his character Travis McGee saw Florida and life in a whole new light. I devoured the twenty one books in the McGee series written from 1964-1986, and threw in Condominium, Clemmie, A Flash of Green, The Executioners and more.
I recently began to reread the McGee series as they are now available to borrow on my Kindle. I have discovered his writing style and subjects are ageless, his themes as current today as when originally written, and McGee’s social observations as pertinent now as they were then. And McGee is an ageless, not aging hero with enough self-introspection that oddly enough fits in today’s world as well as back then.
The Lonely Silver Rain was the last McGee book written before Mac Donald died in 1986, and introduced us to a new character in the form of his then unknown to him daughter born to Puss Gillian, an old love. I will never know how the relationship developed or grew as Mac Donald died. Gratefully, no one has stepped up to try and fill his shoes with varying degrees of success like with some other authors, namely Robert Parker.
Many authors cite Mac Donald as being their inspiration including Dean Koontz, Lee Child and Randy Wayne White. White’s Doc Ford comes close to being the natural successor to McGee, but though I enjoy most of White’s efforts and some of his plots, he doesn’t have the consistency or believability of JDM and McGee.
Condominium was written in 1977 and you would think it was just written. His style of writing is still current and while the book is dated in terms of technology, I am of an age that I remember typewriters, dial phones and no cell phones, and stereo speakers with woofers and tweeters and vinyl records. His descriptions of the peccadillos of the residents of a condominium poorly constructed on a Florida Key (probably like Siesta or Captiva) and the McGee like engineer hired by the aging wealthy recluse on the top floor and his predictably beautiful and strong young wife take you right into the plot and scenes. The descriptions of the fatal hurricane that wipes it out are outstanding; I actually could feel the wind and the rain and the pull of the receding tidal wave…….amazing descriptive ability.
So if you have never read any JD Mac Donald, you have a treat in store. If you have read him in the past, I encourage you to go back and visit his books again for a wonderful re-experience of a master at his trade. I long to write like him!
Nancy J. Miller Red Banks Wisconsin 4-21-2013