2X2L calling CQ . . . 2X2L calling CQ . . . Isn't there anyone on the air?
After almost three years, that’s a good question to ask. Is there anyone out there? I don’t suppose there is, but here goes anyway...
On December 25, 2011 I posted a piece on The Trap of Solid Gold commemorating the the twenty-fifth anniversary of the death of John D MacDonald, a reprint of something I had put up two years earlier, but with a few added comments. It was to be the last posting to the blog, although I didn’t know it at the time. I was working on two other pieces, one on an old Doc Savage novella and the other on the novel A Man of Affairs. But I never got past the planning stages.
On New Year’s Day I received a telephone call from my son asking my wife and I to look after his eight-month old son for a few hours, as he and his wife were on their way to the emergency room of the local hospital. His wife had been experiencing excruciating head and neck pain for the past two days and their local hospital couldn’t find anything obviously wrong with her. An hour later our grandson was dropped off and my son and daughter-in-law headed for the Murfreesboro emergency room. That brief babysitting duty eventually turned into a year and a half of living with us, not just our grandson, but our son and our daughter-in-law, as they worked their way through an illness that was eventually diagnosed as something called Trigeminal Neuralgia. I’m happy to report that the illness has been dealt with --- without the brain surgery that doctors were recommending -- and the kids are living independently, close by, happy and with another child, and once again it’s just me and my wife here in the house.
Trying to write was, of course, impossible under the circumstances, and even after they departed, it was tough to get back into the swing of things. I had packed up all of my JDM stuff, the old pulps and magazines, to protect them from the mischievous hands of my toddler grandson, and they stayed packed even after we were alone again.
I got involved with another project a few months before the kids moved out. Writer Elaine Ford, author of five excellent novels and a distant cousin of mine, asked me to assist her with researching what started out as a short story and eventually turned into an historical novel about our mutual ancestor, Thomas Lawson Ford, who lived from 1807 to 1882. It was enjoyable, time consuming work that lasted over a year and required a couple of weeklong trips to rural Mississippi and much time spent in dusty storage areas of old courthouses.
Meanwhile, my MacDonald books were still up on a high shelf, and eventually I began bringing them down and rereading them. I made my way through the McGee canon earlier this year and it got me interested in seeing if I could maybe try and get the old blog up and running again.
Back when I began writing The Trap of Solid Gold I was unemployed, living off of a generous severance package from my employer of 30 years, a “victim” of the Crash of 2008. I had all the time in the world to read, research and write about my favorite author, a wordsmith I had idolized and followed since 1974, and in the first months of writing I posted something every single day. Now the severance is long gone and I’m forced to do honest work again, so my time to blog is limited. I’m going to try and do a posting a week and see if I can keep it up. Some of the pieces -- especially the ones on the novels -- require a great deal of time to research, outline and get down onto “paper,” so when I’m preparing those particular writings it may take a bit longer.
The purpose of this blog, back when I first started it, was “to share some of my knowledge, opinions, information and artwork from an old and dusty collection of JDM stuff,” and that won’t change, but my real interest is to try and acquaint readers with the bulk of MacDonald’s work that is not Travis McGee. Now, before anyone blows a fuse, I’ll put my love of the McGee novels up against any other reader’s, any day of the week: it’s the work that introduced me to MacDonald and it’s the JDM I return to most often. But MacDonald was so much more than Travis McGee, and I don’t just mean his 42 books that preceded The Deep Blue Good-By. He started his trade writing short stories, and he published nearly 400 of them in his career. Much of the early pulp stuff was more learning experience than high art, but there are many, many examples of beautifully crafted short works that are all but unknown to even the most rabid JDM fan. These stories are sometimes hard to find, as many of them have never been reprinted, but I’ve been collecting these old magazines since the mid 1970’s and I still pull them out and enjoy them. Hopefully reading about them may inspire others to seek them out. And maybe one day they may finally see the light of day again when they are republished. One can hope…
And speaking of republishing, there’s been a big change in the John D MacDonald world since I posted that last 2011 article. Almost every one of MacDonald’s novels and anthologies, even two he never wanted published again, have been issued as eBooks, available to anyone with an eBook reader and $9.99 to spend. (The exceptions are The Executioners, S*E*V*E*N, and Other Times, Other Worlds). I’ve purchased and read two of them and they are well done, finely crafted products that are worth every penny… certainly nothing like the sloppy Death Quotient and Other Stories. And there’s a nice introduction by Dean Koontz in all of the non-Travis books.
I’ve added considerably to my own JDM collection in the three years since I last posted. Of those 400 short stories and novellas I now own nearly 300 of them, and a lot of the earlier postings that relied on anthologized versions of the stories now feature some original story art from the magazines. I’ve spent the last month or so rereading and proofing all of my prior postings, cleaning up some sloppy grammar and fixing typos, so hopefully it will be a better resource for the student of the author. I resisted the temptation to rewrite a few of the pieces that weren’t that well thought out. Perhaps one day, but not now.
And as before, I won’t advertise on this blog and I certainly don’t make any money writing it. I do it because I enjoy writing and sharing it and will stop when that is no longer the case. My audience was never big to begin with and has probably scattered to the four winds since 2011, but I’m hoping at least a few of you will find your way back. Never being one for self-promotion, I’m just going to write it, post it and move on the the next piece.
Also as before, I’ll accept comments here, but I’ve found the need to moderate them, so they may take a day or two to post. Spammers have discovered the site and, even after years of being idle, I still have to delete three or four fake “comments” everyday, comments which purport to be saying something about the specific post (in the most general of terms) but which invariably contain a link to some nefarious website trying to sell something. The genuine comments that are proffered will almost always get printed, provided they are civil and constructive. You may disagree with me, but please do so without any ad hominem.
If you want to contact me outside of commenting, just click on my name in the About Me box on the right and then click the Email link under Contact Me.
My first piece should post in about a week, and I’m really looking forward to writing again.
Finally, a huge “thank you” to all of the followers who have sent me encouraging and supportive emails and comments these past three years. Also to all of you who commented your appreciation of the blog when it was active. I hope that what I do here from this point forward is worthy of your continued readership.