Sunday, September 14, 2008

Two literary passings


I remember reading "Fletch," and several of its sequels, many years ago.

I enjoyed them, especially the first one, but after a while I think I got a little tired of the character and the books' quirky style, though I always respected Mcdonald's storytelling skills.

I've never read any of his "Flynn" books. Perhaps it's time for me to look them up.

Let's see ... John D. MacDonald, Ross Macdonald, Gregory Mcdonald. There's even a Canadian mystery writer named Marianne Macdonald.

Maybe I'd be a more successful mystery writer if I changed my name to Mark Macdonald. (After all, Ross Macdonald was really a guy named Kenneth Millar.)

More than likely, though, I'd be far more successful if I stopped goofing around and got to work....


I never read his novel, "Infinite Jest." But I did like his nonfiction. "A Supposedly Fun Thing That I'll Never Do Again," an essay describing his trip on a cruise ship, is indeed a classic, and I also enjoyed "Tense Present: Democracy, English, and the Wars over Usage." Both pieces, which originally appeared in Harper's, were heavily footnoted, but the footnotes were just as enjoyable as the essays themselves.

His style could be idiosyncratic, but it wasn't idiosyncrasy for idiosyncrasy's sake. There was a method to it, and it was the method of a very intelligent thinker who never wasted this reader's time.

I'm sorry that we will not hear more from him.

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