"I picked up a John D. MacDonald novel called Dead Low Tide. I'd read it a couple of times before. I always came back to it. It made me feel better in the way saying a prayer made me feel better. The ritual of repetition. There are no heroes in John D. novels, and that's probably why I like them. Every once in a while his man will behave heroically, but that still doesn't make him a hero. He has a lot of faults and he always realizes, at some point in every book, that he's flawed and less than he wants to be. I think that's why John D.'s books are so popular. Because we all know deep down we're sort of jerks. Not all the time. But every once in a while we're jerks and we have to face it and it's never fun. You see how deeply you've hurt somebody, or how you were wrong about somebody, or how you let somebody down. But facing it makes you a better person. Because maybe next time you won't be quite as petty or arrogant or cold. Good books are always moral, contrasting how we are with how we should be. And the good writer knows how to do this without ever letting on. All this according to F. Scott Fitzgerald, as taught in lively and deft style by Dr. Harold Gelbman at the University of Iowa."