Friday, November 22, 2013

My Favorite Book

When I proposed this weeks topic - which as it turns out is something of a finale for the LBC - I specifically excluded the bible so as to take away the easy out for the uber-religious posters.  Understand - I do not begrudge anyone their faith nor their religion but  it has been my experience that it becomes an easy out for the faithful.  I was hoping for a discussion of sorts on wjy folks like the type pf literature they like.

In my case my favorite book is called The Long Lavender Look by John D. MacDonald.  It is the 12th in  a long series that chronicles the American human condition - as seen through the eyes of  self professed "salvage consultant" Travis McGee. 

It's my favorite book because it opened my eyes to the ability of a good mystery fiction writer to effectively offer an uncannily accurate look at American society at the time. Warts and all.  The adventures of McGee and his erstwhile sidekick - a gentleman called Meyr - a world renowned economist with a PHD in international economics.

I've read all 21 of the McGee series books numerous times and they never cease to entertain me.  Some people are not appreciative of McGee's attitudes but remember his age and the times in which his stories were written.  But, the quality of MacDonald's writing led me to authors like Dana Stabebnow  - IMHO one of the two best of the current group of mystery writers, chronicling the human condition through the eyes and actions of people in Alaska and her protagonist Kate Shugak, Les Roberts and his Cleveland PI Milan Jacovich,  Louisiana's Dave Robicheux - written by James Lee Burke, Stabenow's equal as a chronicler and story teller,  and then there are the Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn novels of the late Tony Hillerman and many more,

Mystery fiction - when done right - is as true a look at the society of the time of the characters and stories as the so-called classics.  And for my money few of the classics are anywhere near as much fun to read although Dickens and Twain certainly come very close.

As I mentioned in my opening paragraph, sadly the LBC is coming to a defacto end - life has intervened while several of us were making other plans.  I jumped into the LBC pool for one simple reason - I was in the midst of reconnecting with and rekindling a friendship with Conrad - the Old Fossil - started back  in the 80s when we worked together at a RadioShack Computer Center.  We had a lot of fun and met come interesting folks there  - from super peddlers like Mark Stout and our resident jefe Jim Kelso to Michael - oue-resident red-clad follower of the guru bagwan shree rajnesh - who spent most of his time typing and submitting resumes for other work.  Good times.  And as I said - I saw the LBC as a way to stay in touch with and get closer to Conrad.  It was quite successful as we are now good friends - we've made up for lost time.  But, somewhere along that journey something else happened - I became friends with a gentleman in Pune India and a terrific lady in Ireland. As I am half Irish  Marie's perspective has been  a fascinating glimpse into my roots.  Then there's Delores and her strong Mormon faith.  I enjoy our back and forth - she represents all that is right and good with the faith I rejected years ago for a myriad of reasons.  And Paul - our resident author - always fun to read and one I'd seriously enjoy an evening in a pub with.  Now Ramana.  How on earth does a gentleman half way around the world in Pune India strike such a resonant chord with  a guy in Ft Worth Texas? Simple - syncronicity. He knows of what he speaks.

So although there may not be a formal LBC I intend to continue following the members in their blogging endeavors. A need that weekly dose of sunshine and positivity that is Maxi and I enjoy the fish out of water Irish woman married to an Indian and the stories that generates as well. They're all way too much fun to stop reading.


  1. I hope that you will continue participating with the group and not fall off the ladder because of me? Just because I stop writing, does not mean I will stop reading and sure where else would we all go for the wonderful music you find for us each week. Chuck, if you leave, nobody will ever talk to me again.

    1. Marie you overestimate my appeal - though I will still be here. kvetching as I see fit but I confess I'll miss the discipline of the weekly topic. I'll still be reading and commenting on you and the others' blogs as well.

  2. comment didn't appear. I'll try again. I didn't know the LBC was going to disband. I hope you will still continue to blog.

  3. I'm not sure we need to disband, Chuck. Everything evolves and Marie isn't falling off the side of the Earth. At least I sure hope not. But, contrary to the views of Kansas, we may need to evolve.

    Maybe you, Ramana, perhaps Paul, Maria, need to put our pin heads together and see if a spark leaps!

  4. John D MacDonald, here comes that Indian from half way across the world to see what it is that attracts Shackman!

    I would just repeat what everyone else says about the LBC. Let us still left in the group keep it going for as long as possible. We will eventually figure out the logistics as well.

  5. You set the subject, Shackman, yet, as you say in your comment over at Paul's, it's impossible to nail down the one and only. For me it most certainly would not be a book of fiction. In "Desert Island Discs" (BBC Radio 4, Sunday lunchtime) the 'cast away' is given the Bible (!) and one book of their choice. I'd have to think so long about it the programme would have to overrun by hours, be rescheduled or pre-recorded.

    Anyway, I see that this week's LBC congregation has turned into some sort of funeral parlour. Which reminds me, and this is not as bitchy as it sounds: Some people make a grand entrance, others dramatize their exit. Apropos of nothing, and possibly totally non pc these days: Do you remember that children's book about ten little 'Negerlein' (negros), one by one falling by the wayside? Until there was only one left. For a four year old it was sad - and not saccharine, and for reasons which escape me this minute in THE END they were all reunited again. Ain't that sweet?

    On a political correctness note: When I tried to get hold of a copy of the story for my then tiny son (mid Nineties) publishers had kept the idea but those Negerlein were replaced with all sorts: I settled for one with ten little mice. Don't laugh. Or do. I generally just scratch my head when political correctness goes mad and fiction (to name but two, Uncle Tom's Cabin and Huckleberry Finn) are "amended" to fit in with our enlightened times. They were written when they were written, for heaven's sake. With all that implied. Next we'll rewrite history. Or maybe that's old news.


    1. U history is constantly rewritten but I agree that a book should stand as written when it was written, Politically correct editing is simply veiled censorship.

      Re the funeral parloresque week's posts - well - I'm certain it was not what Marie intended - and there will still be an LBC so it is also inaccurate. There will simply be fewer LBC posters tackling the same subject. I didn't realize that at one time there were only 4 members. So things change.

  6. Mystery fiction is a great genre Shackman. For me it's suspense romance, been writin' it all my adult life.
    blessings ~ maxi

  7. I like your comment about mystery fiction. I came across some books recently by a lady called Tana French, an expat woman of US origin who lives in Ireland. She's written two crime thrillers, FAITHFUL PLACE and BROKEN HARBOUR and I have to say that she brings Ireland alive for me. As an expat Irish person, I find these books spot on. Reading one is like a trip home.

  8. That is-it-Friday-already feeling is a familiar one. But I'm still in too.
    I'm also proud to be included in your ramble around the members. And also definitely up for a pint or three. (And anything is possible - GM and Padmini can testify.)

    MacDonald sounds interesting. I'll keep an eye out.