Archive for John D MacDonald

Page Seventeen III: The Revenge

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2022 by dcairns

And yet my ideas and convictions on this subject have not changed. I still consider legalized cohabitation to be foolish. I am certain that eight husbands out of ten have wives who are unfaithful – and that is just what they deserve for having been idiotic enough to fetter their lives, give up the freedom of love, the only good and cheerful thing in the world, and clip the wings of the romantic fancy that constantly urges us to take an interest in all women . . . More than ever I feel incapable of loving merely one woman, because I should always be too fond of all the others. I wish I had a thousand arms, a thousand lips, a thousand . . . personalities, so that I could embrace at the same moment a whole regiment of these charming but insignificant creatures.

I will give a few instances of each of the three methods of changing bodies mentioned above. Freya and Frigg had their falcon dresses in which they visited different regions of the earth, and Loki is said to have borrowed these, and to have then appeared so precisely like a falcon, that he would have escaped detection, but for the malicious twinkle of his eyes. In the Vǫlundarkviða is the following passage:-

Her mouth was not rouged, but yet was pomegranate red. And she smiled so unconsciously down at the beverage that it caused the other girls to laugh aloud.

She turned her back on Transition. There was a thickness in her throat. She knew she should feel shame at the enormity of her mistake – and yet she could not. She knew that her identification with Andro had been too intense, and yet she did not wish it any other way.

In her own mind the tall dark girl had been in those days much confused. A great restlessness was in her and it expressed itself in two ways. First there was an uncanny desire for change, for some big definite movement in her life. It was this feeling that had turned her mind to the stage. She dreamed of joining some company and wandering over the world, seeing always new faces and giving something of herself to the people. Sometimes at night she was quite beside herself with the thought, but when she tried to talk of the matter with the theatrical companies that came to Winesburg and stopped at her father’s hotel, she got nowhere. They did not seem to know what she meant, or if she did get something of her passion expressed, they only laughed. “It’s not like that,” they said. “It’s as dull and uninteresting as this here. Nothing comes of it.”

Like Joyce, Dorothy too begins her letter by discussing her “strict upbringing.” She can remember lying in bed as a child and thinking about her fantasies. “I was never able to banish these deliciously nasty thoughts from my mind,” she writes. What heightened her pleasure in these erotic fantasies was to imagine them while she could hear her mother moving around in another part of the house. Right under her mother’s nose, so to speak, she could play with these forbidden thoughts. In the secrecy of her mind, she could be sexually defiant.

The first few times nothing clicked. The fantasies were O.K. but belonged to nobody important. But the Firm is patient, committed to the Long Run as They are. At last, one proper Sherlock Holmes London evening, the unmistakable smell of gas came to Pirate from a dark street lamp, and out of the fog ahead materialised a giant, organlike form. Carefully, black-shod step by step, Pirate approached the thing. It began to slide forward to meet him, over the cobblestones slow as a snail, leaving behind some slime brightness of street-wake that could not have been from fog. In the space between them was a crossover point which Pirate, being a bit faster, reached first. He reeled back, in horror, back past the point – but such recognitions are not reversible. It was a giant adenoid. At least as big as St. Paul’s, and growing hour by hour. London, perhaps all England, was in mortal peril!

Seven passages extracted from seven page seventeens from seven books cluttering up the Shadowplayhouse.

He from Tales of Supernatural Terror by Guy de Maupassant; The Book of Werewolves by Sabine Baring-Gould; Metropolis by Thea Von Harbou; Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson; Escape to Chaos by John D. MacDonald, from Galactic Empires 2 edited by Brian W. Aldiss; Forbidden Flowers by Nancy Friday; Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon.

Page Seventeen III: Beyond Thunderdome

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2022 by dcairns

The exit came up on his right, and for a moment he considered driving right past it, continuing on to Chamberlain or Lewiston, stopping for lunch, and then turning around and going back. But back where? Home? That was a laugh. If there was a home, it had been here. Even if it had only been four years, it was his.

It was about eight o’clock, very dark and very cold. Except for the faint creaking of the cooling engine and the rustle of the breeze in some nearby trees, there wasn’t a sound to be heard. Ahead, the road in the headlights curved away to the right. I got out the map and tried to find out where I was.

A penetrating drizzle had been leaking through the low cloud since I had joined the A3 at Kingston Vale about 6.45 a.m. Window display men were junking polystyrene Xmas trees and ordering gambolling lambs. On their way to work people were sneaking a look at shop windows to see how much their relatives had paid for the presents they had received.

Speaking of getting killed, let me clarify that Pinto wagons were not the models that notoriously burst into flames upon impact, even a low-speed impact. Those were the Pinto sedans. It took nearly thirty people dying in Pinto fires and over one hundred lawsuits before Ford acknowledged the car’s poorly designed fuel tank and rear end. On the rare occasion I took a girl out on a date, I hastened to assure her that my Pinto was “not the exploding kind.” Usually, my date had no clue about the rash of fatal rear-end Pinto collisions, and my reassurance had the opposite effect of casting an anxious pall over the evening.

But I must relate what a wonderful country it was into which we were now arrived. Were we not assured that all the world is the Lord’s, we might be tempted to think such a wild region the kingdom of the Evil One.

Dirty Car Art by Scott Wade

We got off the Alley and took the 858 into downtown Naples and out to the beach, turned right, and drove along hotel row until we came to the Eden Beach. I drove the long curve of sleek asphalt past the portico and on over into their parking area. A man tending the plantings stopped and stared slack-jawed at the Rolls pickup. It has that effect. The conversion was done clumsily during the Great Depression. Four fat women in shorts were on the big putting green, grimly improving their game. Through big-leafed tropic growth I could see the blue slosh of the swimming pool,and I heard somebody bodysmack into it off the rumbling board. I saw a slice of Gulf horizon, complete with schooner. We went up three broad white steps and through a revolving door into the cool shadows of the lobby. A very pretty lady behind the reception desk smiled at us, frowned at her watch, picked up a phone, punched out two numbers, then spoke in a low voice.

‘Please, mister, can you tell us what kind of a snake that is in the wagon? Is it something they caught here in Arizona? We’re just out from the East, you know, and don’t know all the animals here yet.’

Seven paragraphs from seven page seventeens from seven books I apparently own — this time, with a motoring/travelling theme.

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King; The Army of the Shadows by Eric Ambler, from Alfred Hitchcock’s Sinister Spies; Horse Under Water by Len Deighton; But What I Really Want to Do is Direct: Lessons from a Life Behind the Camera by Ken Kwapis; The Monk and the Hangman’s Daughter by Ambrose Bierce; Free Fall in Crimson by John D. MacDonald; The Circus of Dr. Lao by Charles G. Finney.

Page Seventeen III: The Final Conflict

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2022 by dcairns

They asked these questions. They always asked the same questions, and they always got the same answers. It had nothing to do with what you said. It had nothing to do with how you shaved or how you combed your hair because you combed your hair the way everyone else did, and the day you went up to Board you shaved twice. Maybe, it had to do with how many shaving cuts you had, but I didn’t have any. I had taken care, wow. Suppose it had to do with the way you moved. If two of the three men on the parole board liked the way you moved, you were all right, provided they didn’t like the way you moved too much. Sex. No matter who I’m with, man or woman, I always get a feeling off them. At least I used to. I always could tell if they were moving inside or moving away, and I could tell if anything was going on inside. If we ever touched, I could tell better. Once I was in a streetcar and a girl sat down next to me. She was a full barrel. A very fat girl. Pretty face. I don’t like fat. Very fat people have no quick. They can always stop. They can stop from doing a lot of things.

Narcissa was a big woman, with dark hair, a broad, stupid, serene face. She was in her customary white dress. “Horace this is Gowan Stevens,” she said. “My brother, Gowan.”

He grimaced, which involved the total disappearance of his eyes and mouth and most of his nose, only the very end of which protruded like one fingertip of a clenched fist wearing a shabby leather glove.

‘The condition is called aphasia. Sometimes, in younger patients, the right side of the brain can be trained to take over communication. But one could not hope for such a result in the case of your wife, sir. Yes, to a certain extent she is aware of her surroundings. And she would recognize you, yes. As you may have noticed, she attempts to communicate on a subverbal level, to make certain wants known with . . . those sounds. Words are essential to the processes of thought, we now believe. Much of our thinking is in word forms. Deprived of the tools of words, the processes become more primitive and simplified: hot, cold, hungry, thirsty. No, I wouldn’t say her life expectancy is seriously impaired. At sixty-three she is quite a healthy woman, aside from her traumatic informities.’

Boaz-Joachin thought about the surveyor’s words. He understood the words, but the meaning of them did not enter him because their meaning was not an answer to any question in him. In his mind he saw an oblong of blue sky edged with dark faces. He felt a roaring in him, and opened and closed his mouth silently. ‘No,’ he said.

Happily our geography text, which contains maps of all the principal land-masses of the world, is large enough to conceal my clandestine journal-keeping, accomplished in an ordinary black composition book. Every day I must wait until Geography to put down such thoughts as I may have had during the morning about my situation and my fellows. I have tried writing at other times and it does not work. Either the teacher is walking up and down the aisles (during this period, luckily, she sticks close to the map rack in the front of the room) or Bobby Vanderbilt, who sits behind me, is punching me in the kidneys and wanting to know what I am doing. Vanderbilt, I have found out from certain desultory conversations on the playground, is hung up on sports cars, a veteran consumer of Road & Track. This explains the continual roaring sounds which seem to emanate from his desk; he is reproducing a record album called Sounds of Sebring.

I could feel my feet beginning to weigh less and less as he smiled at the phonograph record. It smiled back. I now weighed a trifle over seventeen pounds and danced like a giant dandelion in his meadow.

Seven bits of page seventeens from seven books by American authors stacked in a precarious heap by my armchair.

The Killer: a story by Norman Mailer, from The Short Fiction of Norman Mailer; Sanctuary by William Faulkner; Little Big Man by Thomas Berger; Condominium by John D. MacDonald; The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz by Russell Hoban; Me and Miss Mandible from Sixty Stories by Donald Barthelme; A Confederate General from Big Sur by Richard Brautigan.