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My books can be purchased as e-books for only $1.99. If interested, just click here: Books.
Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
In case anyone is interested in any of my past posts, an archive list can be found at the bottom of this page.
My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Wednesday, September 23

Travis McGee & The Black Widow

I just finished rereading my last novel, The Black Widow, which I hadn’t looked at for a long time. I was trying to see if it was any good after this long cooling off period, and, I’m happy to say, it was still pretty good. Not great, but still good enough to have served as the last episode in the Travis McGee series by John D. MacDonald. MacDonald, as part of his style in the McGee series, would insert little essays on topics that reflected McGee’s views of life. I think a couple of them are good enough to put here on my blog. See what you think.

This first one states McGee’s views on God and man and the universe. He’s explaining how he feels to the woman who hired him, Sarah Wilson, the black widow.

I could never understand the need for some intermediary between me and God, whatever sort of God there may be. Or even if there is a God. I’m not an atheist, but I’m certainly an agnostic. I just don’t know if there is or isn’t a God. And if there is, he or she or it isn’t some deity in human form. That just doesn’t make any sense to me. Science tells us about the immensity of the universe, of the numbers of stars and star systems, too many to comprehend. How can we believe that we’re the only intelligence in this immensity? And how can we think some creator or creative force is looking down on us benevolently, waiting for us to grow up and come to our senses? I believe in the principles Christ taught, and in my own way I follow them to the letter. But I don’t need a church to govern me into following those principles. I’m a realist and because science has convinced me that we, and our earthly home, are an infinitesimally tiny speck in the total scheme of things, I have to believe that somewhere out there, there must be a nearly limitless number of potential planets that sustain life that would develop on an evolutionary track similar to ours. I don’t mean that other forms couldn’t become the dominant species on one of these planets. But it seems logical to me that life can only begin on a planet with just the right conditions, like just the right temperatures and with the existence of water. Look at our own system and the planets we have. Earth seems to be the only one with these necessary conditions. No form of life could exist on Mercury, let’s say, or Venus from what the scientists tell us about conditions there. And most unlikely on any of those further out except Mars. I don’t think most people realize the philosophical implications of our discovering water on Mars. If it’s true, and that’s what they’re now saying, these scientists involved in the Mars missions, then they could also discover some form of microscopic life on Mars. That tells me that in the vastness of our universe, there would be many many solar systems with circling planets, some of which would have conditions similar to ours. And, therefore, not only the potential for life, the probability of life.

This second one is built on an extended metaphor for the way life moves from beginning to end.

Life is like film reeling forward into the future with the past gathering on an enlarging reel, suggesting that our lives are predetermined from birth to death, the length equal to the amount of film each of us has on his reel. It also suggests there’s a writer or director, someone responsible for the story-line other than the main character. I’m not sure I like that assumption. I’m not an atheist but if there is a God, he doesn’t seem to pay much attention to individuals or their fates. I’d rather think that each of us, to some extent, is our own filmmaker, creating a story that’s satisfying to us. But we don’t have control over the scenes we’re shooting, and sometimes the camera gets bumped, or even takes on a life of its own. And there are no retakes. The present is like a thin line, representing only a nanosecond. That brief moment immediately becomes part of the past, collecting on a reel as film that becomes more and more warped and wrinkled, torn in some places, some passages so distorted or sepia-brown that you can’t figure out what they show, some scenes brilliantly vivid but with exaggerated, unrealistic colors and details. When we were young, time seemed to move in slow motion, the film gaining speed almost imperceptibly as our lives proceeded. And in the twilight of our lives, that film looks more like Charlie Chaplin strutting down the street, the frames herky-jerky and moving faster and faster until finally the film ends in tragedy, a quiet scene in a hospital room with loved ones gathered around or an accidental or purposely violent, bloody car crash into a bridge abutment. And the only sound is loose film flapping against the reel, the audience silently shuffling out of the theater, a few tears maybe, but certainly no applause.

There. Those are my views as seen through a character named Travis McGee.

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