He's a self-described beach bum who won his houseboat in a card game. He's also a knight errant who's wary of credit cards, retirement benefits, political parties, mortgages, and television. He only works when his cash runs out, and his rule is simple: he'll help you find whatever was taken from you, as long as he can keep half.
Nothing that John D. MacDonald wrote is better loved and more enduring than the 21 books in his series about Travis McGee, the Florida-based “salvage consultant” who recovers property for a fee so he can take his retirement “a piece at a time”. Narrator Robert Petkoff, hand-chosen to narrate with the approval of MacDonald’s estate, brings McGee’s world of the Busted Flush (his houseboat, which he won in a poker game) and “Miss Agnes” (his custom Rolls-Royce pickup truck) to vivid life.
©1964 John D. MacDonald Publishing, Inc. Renewal © 1992 Maynard MacDonald (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
"[T]he great entertainer of our age, and a mesmerizing storyteller." (Stephen King)
"[M]y favorite novelist of all time." (Dean Koontz)
"[W]hat a joy that these timeless and treasured novels are available again." (Ed McBain)
Different....very different but also the same. It catches Macdonald at his best
This is my third visit with Travis McGee; first as an adolesent; again at 40 and now 20 years later. I did not realize what I had forgotten. With the first chapter it all came back though. The complex Travis an alter ego for the author.
There is a reason why John D. Macdonald seems to make the top 5 list of many good writers. Many characters are developed to be believable but a very small group seem really to live. Sherlock Holmes is one that comes to mind, Travis McGee is another. The details in his stories rest with his character. Travis reminds me a bit of the cowboys that live at the end of the wild west. They knew their
People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.
I listened to this book after getting into the regional crime genre, more specifically Florida. Authors that I like, like Carl Hiaasen and Tim Dorsey, cite JDM as the original Florida crime novelist. The book is indeed well-written, concise, direct, and of course it is the precursor to the more contemporary Florida crime novels I like (although lacking in the humorous element that make Hiaasen and Dorsey and Dave Barry so much fun).
What I didn't like about it is the sexism. At first, JDM comes off as almost feminist in his approach to the way Travis McGee treats and sticks up for the women victimized by bad guy Junior Allen. But as the story progresses, it becomes clear that McGee, while certainly not the evil rapist who terrorizes and loots women the way Allen does, preys on them in his own way (I could say more, but I don't want to add any spoilers).
Not to create a false equivalence between the sexist terrorist Allen and the moralistic, justice-seeking, nice-guy McGee, but both characters are built upon how they approach the weakness and passivity of the women who are central to the story, and that is even true of some of the ancillary men and women in the book who fall easily into the same stereotypes.
Sure, that's the way things were in 1962 when the book was written. But sexual mores and other social conventions were already changing, as reflected in the book. JDM apparently did not anticipate feminism, however, even though it wasn't that far off in the future. He built a tale that was tragic in every respect, but most especially in the way women are portrayed and treated.
I would not recommend this book to anyone that I know. Certainly not my wife, who is the primary recommedee in my life. She would just hate the sexism down to her core. And not to my male friends either -- I would direct them to Hiaasen first and then others before ever recommending this book, because it is in fact highly dated, not just in the stereotypes that really turned me off, but also in the simplistic plotting, which a half-century later is far too predictable.
The narration is good, with a pace that suits the story -- with one major exception that is impossible to ignore: the way Robert Petkoff mimics women's voices when reading their dialogue is an insult, adding to the sense that they are being objectified in the most simplistic of ways. Not to mention amateurish.
All in all, I would say yes. I don't regret listening to it, though I doubt I will go back to this well. The pace is fast, the writing good, the length short enough. I can appreciate JDM's influence even if I don't fully appreciate this particular work. And though I am reacting negatively to the sexism, I still think it is an interesting subject in the context of when the book was written, as it is in Mad Men.
Back in the day, I could hardly wait for the next Travis McGee novel to be published, always in paperback. I'm not sure if he even published in hard cover, but I certainly couldn't afford those in any case. As a big fan I downloaded this book soon after it was available and just got around to listening to it. Sadly, it just did not hold up over time. He was clearly the model for Jack Reacher and other heroes with a soft heart, but this big tough guy just seems so dated. There is endless meaningless dialog that seems to go nowhere and the scenes with the several damsels in distress just didn't work for this day and age.
The reader was more than adequate, fitting voice to characters unerringly.
This is certainly not a bad book and like all McDonald novels short enough for a long plane ride. Give it a try, for old times sake.
I just bought Quick Red Fox on sale, I'll give you all an update on that one soon.
In order to enjoy this book you need to understand the date it was written. All the big sexual revolution started that decade, the attitude and behaves of man and women must be understood based on the time of the history and not the way we expect or assume modern man and woman behaves.
This is my first encounter with John McDonald and Travis McGee. Although I am not young but my native language is Spanish and I have not seen any translation of this author’s novels. I really enjoyed the psychological aspects. I'm sure the reaction of a woman who has been abused in these times is not very different from that described in the novel.
I am looking forward to listen and read (thanks to Whispersync) the rest of the series as i as sure that both McDonald and McGee will change as time pass by, 20 years is a lot of time and lots of changes.
The narration was very good and perfect for a person like me that speaks English as a second language. I liked the pace, the intonation and the cadence of the narrator’s voice.
Electrical Engineer, 51 years old father of 3.
Travis McGee is a character I want to learn more about. The books have been around for a long time yet the story holds up well.
I have listened to it more than once and will again. In fact, the Travis McGee series by John D. MacDonald on cassette from Books on Tape is what hooked me on audio books back in the dark ages of the 80ties.. My library's copies of these cassettes got destroyed by all the listening, and when BOT changed over to Audible, I was very sad that I had lost touch with these great stories. So it was a thrill to see Audible step up and re-record the entire series. In my experience, no other series holds up as well from book 1 to book 21, sure some of the books are weaker than others, but the characters, the believability and fallibility of the hero, and the astute observations of the evolving culture and destruction of Florida are all worth your time and investment.
The Travis McGee series really stands alone, others try and imitate THIS series, and usually fall short. The only thing close is the first 14 of the Prey from John Sandford before he got so formulaic..
I really liked the performance by Robert Petkoff. He brings a great interpretation to the characters that is faithful to what I believe MacDonald intended. After struggling with the recordings of the 80ties and 90ties it is delight to have the improved audio quality AND a great performance that doesn't jar loose the classic interpretation of the characters of this series.
I would like Audible to consider offering a deal for those addicts who would like to own the entire series... can we get a Bogo deal or something like that?
I hadn't read a Travis McGee book in years. I remembered that I liked the Florida and shoreline ambience. His foes are always supervillains and die spectacularly badly. Unfortunately, this one had a truly terrible victim--one I found little sympathy for. Anyway, the ambience is there, and T. McGee is still the hard-boiled softy! I thought that the book was read well and it's worth a listen when you want sheer entertainment--that's why you buy a Travis McGee! Warning: if you read it at the beach you'll keep glancing over your shoulder. . .
A man like any other. Only more so.
Quality writing. The Main character was a man of conscience and deliberate action. Even so he was able to think on his feet in a very believable way.
At some points it did. Mostly it was character development with slpashes of the mystery part on the increase as things developed.
When he went to see the woman the bad guy had shacked up with.
No in pieces was fine.
The thing of Travis having a mysterious past was kind of cliche. I guess the story has to develop in some manner.
I no longer live in Worcester. I now live in Brooklyn, NY.
Had a problem with the timeline in the story until I realized it had been written in 1964. I definitely will read more of the series but probably not all 21 in a row. But it is good to have a short listen, which these are, every now and then.Travis just might be Reacher's cousin.
And I love John D. MacDonald for writing this series. I was excited when this series was introduced on Audible. MacDonald paints the best words pictures of his characters. You know not only what the character looks like but the description goes deeper - under the skin and into the psyche. If you like Michael Connely, Lee Child or John Sanford then you must read John D. McDonald. For me, he is the start of this genre and sets the bar very high.
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