Travis McGee fans like to tell about their first reading of Travis , and how they happened to pick up the book in the first place. If you have a story to share send it along to me. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
For me, it was my first year of teaching in a small, old, mill town (Danielson) in eastern Connecticut. Being quite poor I found a used bookshop just over the railroad tracks, where I could pick up paperbacks quite cheaply--as little as a nickel in some cases.
That's when I began the journey which has lasted lo these many years.
BTW, in the dumb move of the century, my wife and I attended the 1983
Bouchercon where JDM was given the Grandmaster Award, and I met Walter Shine, who on Sunday invited us to cocktails with the MacDonald's and the Shine's.
We demurred--and get this--because we had to drive back to Massachusetts and prepare for teaching the next day.
Now, do you think I don't regret that stupidity on frequent occasions???
I found Travis in a jail cell. I was arrested for P.I. in Alpine, Texas, back in 1971 ( a bogus charge, since I was in the back seat of an automobile at the time, being driven by a kid who was drunker than I was. Unfortunately, the cop knew everyone else in the car, except me and the only I.D. I had on me at the time was a New York State Driver License and my Draft Card, so you can imagine how that went over). In any event, I wound up doing two weeks in the Brewster County Jail, where I read everything in sight, except this one book, that had the first thirteen pages missing. Last day in the place, I finally relented and picked it up. Turned out to be One Fearful Yellow Eye. Couldn't put the damn thing down. First thing I did, when I got out of jail, was go to the nearest book seller (which, back then, was the local newstand at the corner Drugstore) and, miracles still happen, found the book. Not only did I read the missing thirteen pages, but read the entire book through again. Since then, I have read every MacDonald I could get my hands on, including all his short story compilations, Sci Fi novels, The House Guests, No Deadly Drug and A Friendship:the Letters of Dan Rowan and J.D.M.. But, of all his writing, the Travis McGee series remains paramount in my eyes and I have read it through at least three times now, though a few of the books I have read no fewer than ten times.
I was in my teens and in the Library looking for something to read
and saw all these books with colors in the title. So I thought to
myself-self try these out and of course that was the day I met Travis
McGee. Being older and "wiser" now I can understand them more and love the prose and humor and truth of MacDonald and the enviromental
problems that have just gotten worse ...John is spinning as we speak!
I first met Travis through my father (way back in the early 70s). He was a huge reader and had bookcases full of JDM. My first was Blue and Trav struck me as the kind of guy who stood up for people who couldn't stand up for themselves. After a couple of others in that same vein (some dumbass gets ripped off and trav helps them for a fee), I got ahold of was Green and I was totally hooked. It showed a personal aspect to his "work" that gripped me. Blue and the others had me thinking that he would help people who were too stupid to help or take care of themselves and in the process make a nice chunk of change for himself, but seeing him embark on this one, just to cure a hole in his heart/soul and to watch him say goodbye to his past (possibly for good), opened a whole new area of emotion for him.
From Green on, I latched on to every color and developed a whole new respect and love for Travis.
I came across TM back in the mid 70's, came across Turquoise in the
local Library and was immediately hooked. McGee appeared as a
totally credible character ( unlike bond etc)that was clever,
resourceful and tough, but at the same time had vunerability. It
wasn’t till the late 90's when I was able to fulfill a life ambition
and finally own all 21 books and be able to read them in order. As
mentioned previously, it wast till I was older and reading them more
recently that i saw and understood what a clever word smith JDM was.
In more recent times I have started to enjoy the Doc Ford series by
Randy Wayne White, Ford isn’t a million miles away from Mcgee,
certainly in the earlier books, that said, in a more recent book I
did think that Ford was becoming a little Ramboesque, but maybe
that’s just me. White is not too well known in the UK (IMO, so any UK
members reading this should give him a try, but start with the
earlier books. ( sorry for turning this into a RWW promotion)
I owe it all to a broken filling, went to the dentist and picked up a
Sports Illustrated while I was waiting. There was an article by Carl
Hiaasen, I found the article so interesting I started searching for
other Hiaasen writings. Somewhere in one of the things I read he
mentioned that JDM was a big influence, so, I looked up JDM, within 3 or 4 months I had read them all.
I was searching amazon for a Carl Hiaasen book, and it said something
like 85% of the people who bought this book also bought The Girl In
the Plain Brown Wrapper. So I clicked on that, and when I saw that
Hiaasen had written the intro to it, I bought it. I was immediately
hooked - this was about 15 years ago. I proceeded to read all the TM
books, in no particular order. I then started to read the other JDM
books. A few months ago I was able to acquire almost every book JDM
wrote in a single lot. I then decided to read all his works in the
order they were published. I started with The Brass Cupcake and I am
currently reading Border Town Girl.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Around the time the first Austin Powers movie came out I caught an interview with Mike Meyers on E! where he said that growing up his mother was a big fan of the Flint movies, James Bond and Matt Helm who he called the American James Bond. The Dean Martin movies were before my time so I googled Matt Helm and I found this page which makes it clear that the book Matt Helm is much different than the movie Matt Helm.
I continued googling Matt Helm and found him mentioned in the same breath as Travis McGee ("Once you've finished with Matt Helm and Travis McGee you might like X character"). I decided I'd buy both characters' series on Ebay, scooped up two big JDM lots which between them had the complete McGee run and I still haven't read Matt
- Jim Henke
OK, well I was looking for books on my parent's bookshelves and was skimming through books to see if they caught my attention and low and behold, there were these books that had a bunch of cities and places I knew of. I was hooked right away although a lot of what he was talking about in parts of the book were over my head at 11 years old, the parts about the demise of Florida were right up my alley!
Bec Figini- Jacobs
I joined the old Detective Book Club - they of the custom 3-in-1 omnibus - and Turquoise was one of the three. Liked it enough to track down some more and got hooked.
Back in 1989 I was taking a course in mystery-writing, and along the way the teacher and I went out for coffee after one of the classes. I wondered who his favorite authors were and he rattled a few off, including JDM. I'd never heard of the guy and my teacher was amazed . He told me to get off my butt, and track down a Travis McGee yarn. Pronto. I had a gift certifcate from Barnes & Noble and--among other items--picked up a Travis McGee yarn. I arbitrarily picked "Grey," but I didn't read it until I was on vacation a few months later. That was it. I was instantly hooked.
Anyway, I decided that with just 21 McGees available, I wouldn't burn through them quickly. I read one new McGee each year (more or less), plus three or four that I've read before. There are three left that I've never read (Tan, Cinnamon, & Gold). This summer I'm just reading later books, and plan to read them through in order beginning next summer. I also have about 40 non-McGees on hand, and am working my way through those, as well.
D. R. Martin
Well, I was working as a swamper for the sanitation department in 1989. Someone had thrown away a perfectly good copy of A Tan and Sandy Silence. So I kept it and started to read it as my "Bathroom book" at work. I was hooked and the book quickly followed me out of the bathroom and accompanied me everywhere I went for the next three days. I then read the rest of the series as quickly as I could locate them and devour them. I read them as I found them and not in any chronolgical order. The last one I read (after long seeking a copy of it) was Reading for Survival. I treasure them all.
My degree is in Math/Physics and never was interested in reading much beyond nonfiction books and articles. That is, until I was teaching in Zeonghen Liberia West Africa, a village about 150 miles in the bush, and had purchased one of the Travis McGee books on our last trek to the big city of Monrovia. Why I picked a MacDonald book I have no idea, but am very thankful I did. In many ways, I give MacDonald credit for me keeping my sanity during those years when my wife and I were the only "quee" (sp.??, but it is Liberian for civilized) folks for many, many miles.
Being retired now, I have again picked up my collection of McDonald books, mostly the Travis series and am again enjoying them, probably as much as the first readings.
I now live in the mountains of NC but am a Florida native who went the large sailing boat route for a few years previous to moving here. For this large expense of funds and in some ways it was quite adventurous, I lay partial blame/credit to Travis and his Busted Flush.
Anyway, it is nice, yea, very gratifying, to see McDonald getting some of the credit he is due because of his writing talent.