Hello to all of you Travis McGee fans. I was a long-haul commercial truck driver from 1990-95. I am now in management in the office of the company I drove for. Believe it or not, I have never read one page of any Travis McGee book.
During my first year of driving, I discovered that an excellent way to pass the time going down the road was audiobooks. One day I was looking through the audiobooks rack at a truck stop and I came across one entitled "The Long Lavender Look" by John D. MacDonald.
The artwork on the box was eye-catching and the synopsis on the back of the box sounded very good, so I purchased the 2-cassette book on tape. That was the "fastest" 3 hours I had ever driven up to that time. The book was so well written, phrased, and plotted, and Darren McGavin (who read 19 of the 21 books) was such a fantastic orator, I couldn't hardly believe that I had covered about 180 miles (our trucks are governed at 62 mph!) so quickly it seemed. I was hooked.
There are several audiobook services at truck stops where you can rent a book at one truck stop for usually a week and then drop it off at another later on down the road. I rented quite a few other audiobooks with other authors (Sue Grafton's alphabet murder series is quite good also) and different genres, but I BOUGHT the Travis McGee books for keepers! Over my 5 years of professional driving, I purchased all 21 books on cassette. Kevin Conway read the other 2 books (Darker Than Amber and Cinnamon Skin) and he is very good, but he's not Darin McGavin! Darren really makes Travis come alive. Darren McGavin IS Travis McGee.
I was very sorrowed when he passed away in 2006. I enjoyed him in the motion picture "The Natural" as well.
Travis (Darren) and I covered many, many, many miles together. Even after coming off the road and into the office, my wife and I still listen to ol' Travis' adventures when we go out of town for an extended trip. Alas however over the years, the tapes had begun to deteriorate, but my wife and kids rescued me this past Christmas. They gave me an LP/Cassette machine that converts records and tapes to CD!
In my spare time since receiving the CD recorder I have just about completed converting all my beloved TM audiobooks to CDs and now that I have them in digital mode (and have backed all of them up on a flash drive) they are preserved forever. I am now enjoying them without worrying if the tape player will "eat" the tape or if the tape will break. If there are TM audiobooks available commercially on CD, I have not been able to find a website that offers them, and I have searched quite earnestly over the years. So you can imagine my elation when I was given the machine to put them on digital mode.
We first stumbled across JDM on our first trip to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware in the summer of 1975. We went into Browseabout Books and saw a Travis McGee display. We read The Dreadful Lemon Sky, and we were hooked. We caught up with the others and began buying the new ones as soon as they came out. The Empty Copper Sea remains our favorite, and I'll never forget buying The Green Ripper in National Airport on a business trip and (quite literally) watching Gretel Howard die-- it left me with a sadness that took a long time to go away. In rereading it, I reflect upon our experiences watching our daughter die suddenly and unexpectedly of a brain hemorrhage in 1993... they were very similar to McGee's experiences and feelings in the book... I think I can remember where we were as we read each book. Since then, we've read most of JDM's other books and short stories and are lucky enough to have a couple of signed books and a few letters that he wrote to friends. In 1997 we visited Fort Lauderdale for the first time and spent spring break there with Lynn and Georgie. I was very, very nervous about visiting Bahia Mar because I was afraid there might not be a slip F-18. This may sound strange, but it was almost a journey to Mecca. Thank God there was a slip F-18! We celebrated Kim's 40th birthday with champagne right there! I'm sure people thought we were crazy...
I am GM of a Ford dealership here in Easton, Maryland, and for many years, I quoted Travis McGee in special ads. Nothing about cars-- just about life. Many were published in The Tidewater Times which has both a local distribution and subscription base. I made friends all over the country from those ads-- I think JDM's words touched many hearts.
I read a great deal of JDM's work during eight years of residence in Saudi Arabia in the seventies and eighties. I remember making his acquaintance in the fall of 1978 picking up one of his McGee novels in a small library of some excellent paperbacks left behind by some guys in a villa in southwestern Riyadh.
One of my all-time fave writers, JDM was a dude one fell in love with immediately as a reader, for his deeply spell-binding prose. When he died in late December of 1986 I felt a harsh loss as I thought of all the hours of pleasure I had derrived from this fascinating story-teller possessing an incomparable writing style that built such awesome Florida images in my mind which to this day remain so vividly and shockingly real.
I just finished re-reading his sprell-binding novel CONDOMINIUM which I picked up on an impulse last month as I came across it again in the local library. The man's relevance is intact and alive and he remains an awesome icon of American modern literature. I feel we will see a great revival of his idiom ... an American prophet's vision of the chickens which have now come home to roost.
Glad you guys keep it up ... thanks.
Well, honestly I've enjoyed reading all genres of fiction and nonfiction over the years. I've also been a long time aficionado of Jimmy Buffet's music and lyrics. In 1981 Jimmy laments the loss of John Wayne and heroes in his life with the song "Incommunicado". The song is well- crafted and opens up with the line "Travis McGee's still in Cedar Key, that's what John McDonald said...". I was clueless to its meaning until one evening more than fifteen years later. While visiting a local used book store there it was, the unabridged versions of five Travis McGee books inside one hard -bound edition. The song lyrics sprang to life in my brain and I sat down on the step stool there in the aisle and read for half an hour. I've read it numerous times and have shared it with friends as well. What a treasure to have stumbled upon! Sounds like it's time to find copies of the remainder of the Travis McGee series for my library. Thank you JDM and JB.
San Antonio, TX