John D. MacDonald began his career in the pulp magazines, the same beginnings of such great writers as HP Lovecraft, Raymond Chandler, Robert Bloch and Ray Bradbury. His early skill developed across multiple genres: western, science fiction, mainstream, crime. But it was in the crime story that MacDonald would find himself most at home. In the fifties and sixties he would write one masterpiece after another, carving out a fiction landscape as wide and as deep as any in American literature.
MacDonald’s novels often appeared as ordinary crime thrillers, but even a cursory read revealed MacDonald was far from ordinary. His fluid and compulsive storytelling, his skill at delaying action in order to build suspense, his focus on multifaceted and complex characters, and the enormous range of his knowledge about every conceivable subject made him a standout writer, and his uniqueness remains to this day.
The envy of an entire generation of writers, MacDonald’s influence resonates still today, his admirers ranging from crime writers such as Carl Hiaasen and Sue Grafton, to post-modern novelists like Kurt Vonnegut, who called MacDonald’s work a “find on the scale of the tomb of Tutankhamun,” to the dean of American horror, Stephen King, who counts MacDonald as one of his “three most influential writers.”
To read MacDonald is to take a master’s class in how to write. There is nothing he doesn’t do well. In fact, he does almost everything better than most. He is a great American treasure, and it is unfortunate that today so many of his books are out of print.
John D MacDonald Books to Read:
The Travis McGee Series, The Last One Left, The Damned, The End of the Night, Death Trap, Murder in the Wind, The Executioners, One Monday We Killed Them All, All These Condemned, Clemmie, The Crossroads, Where is Janice Gantry?, The Drowner, Condominium, The Beach Girls, The Deceivers.
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