Sunday, November 18, 2018
I don't have to explain myself to you! I don't even "blog" anymore. But anyway before my recent trip I was in Square Books looking for something to read on the airplane and I saw a Travis McGee novel by John D. MacDonald I had never noticed on the shelf before: NIGHTMARE IN PINK, and I walked right by it and didn't even pick it up because of my many, many problems with those novels, but somehow it stuck in my head. I find - and I'm sure it's some sort of compulsion - that if a book sticks in my head at Square Books, I always go back and buy it the next day. What if I miss out on something? And I went to bed that night thinking, you know, maybe NIGHTMARE IN PINK would be good to read on the airplane, even though I haven't truly enjoyed one of those novels yet, because it's really about weight and size when I'm picking out a book to read on the airplane; content hardly enters into it. And I comforted myself by thinking that no one was going to walk into Square Books overnight and buy NIGHTMARE IN PINK before I returned the next day. How bizarre that would be. But, reader, someone did. I went back and NIGHTMARE IN PINK was gone, and even though I didn't actually want to read it, and had already, the day before, bought the book I was going to read on the airplane instead, I felt cheated. Cheated by life! So in the following days, as I prepared for my trip, I would walk by the bookstore and look at the empty spot where NIGHTMARE IN PINK used to be. Okay! Upon my return, I was in Square Books one day and glanced at the shelf and NIGHTMARE IN PINK was back in stock... so I bought it! I read a little of it and put it aside because Megan and I got started on our book club book. At least my strange need to purchase this volume from a series I don't enjoy had been sated. Anyway! Last night I couldn't sleep and there was NIGHTMARE IN PINK, so I read some more of it. Yes, Travis McGee's morbid horror of being devoured by a woman was intact. "Any minute now the sticky tongue would flick out and snare me and yank me into that greedy maw." That's Travis McGee describing a woman. Now, there's a sort of woman that Travis McGee claims to like a lot, that he spends a lot of time striving to convince us he likes a lot, and, as Ace Atkins has pointed out to me, that woman "always dies." Now! I will say this for John D. MacDonald's technique, or maybe this is more about Ace's insight: wondering when the one woman Travis McGee "likes" is going to die keeps you reading. Like, "Oh no! Don't get too attached, McGee!" It introduces a distasteful (and possibly entirely external) source of suspense. So anyway, after spending some time with the woman whose "maw" terrifies him, Travis McGee goes back to the woman he claims to like and she says to him, "Wanna play owl?" And now you know why we're here: for reasons long forgotten, I keep a list ("click" here!) of every book I read that has an owl in it. After Travis McGee and his friend "play owl," and never mind what that is, I sincerely regret to inform you that they play something called "naked owl."