Skip to main content

Dress Her In Indigo by John D MacDonald

Knight errant or
misogynist pig?
Or both - who says
you have to choose?
One phrase struck me during the reading of this book, another in the 20-odd series featuring everybody's favourite sexual healer Travis McGee, that reminded me of the fantastic lashing John D MacD got at the hands of another reviewer, and if which I made copious use in a previous review. Another of Trav's mysteriously well-connected contacts puts him on to one Enelio Fuentes, whose comportment around women is degraded at best, and whose own sensibilities lead him to pimp out two typists to Trav and hirsute pal Meyer during their stay in Oaxaca, something to which neither of them object. 

Still there?

He repeatedly describes women as either crumpets or chicklets, and Meyer later relates that when he presses Fuentes for the distinction, it's beguilingly vague and horribly sexist at the same time - I'll leave that for you to find and enjoy.

So why do I persist in reading what some might describe as novels that demean the reader as well as the women (and men) portrayed therein? In short, because they're great fun. Even as MacDonald bucks the trend of the casual stereotyping of Mexicans as slovenly and untrustworthy with upwardly mobile and successful characters like the lovely chicklets / crumpets Elena, Lita and Margarita (one of whom Fuentes takes for himself) and Fuentes himself, a VW agency owner and member of an elite social club on the roof of some ghastly modern structure, he also appears to have a pretty tight grip on the reality of a particular time and place, of some pretty real human emotions, and an understanding of the fluidity of situations and encounters that never once leave you suspicious or mistrustful of what comes next. I often will myself to dislike his prose and to flare up the old snorts of derision at some trite or hackneyed narrative trope but find myself equally often unable so to do. MacDonald is a pretty damned good writer, even if he leaves a fur of bitter distaste on the tongues of many. And in ...Indigo MacDonald has a cracking story, about the disintegration of middle American ideals and the seeking of meaning in a Mexican pipe dream, as well as a tale of deceit and death that really does pull you in and sock you in the jaw. And the lovely Lady Rebecca? Just wow. That's all.

Comments

How's about that then?

The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt

The Vorrh by Brian Catling

There are some books on which I find myself taking a weary chance purely by the weight of Amazonian algorithmic pressure. This is by no means a good reason to buy a book (although what better reason is there to buy one other than there is a book there to buy?) but at 99p an electronic book is easily discarded if it fails to grip. And ths one kept coming up on Amazon, over and over. And over. I grew to hate its cover, the name, the single initial forename of the author. I was in fact dead set against enjoying or even being fair-handed in criticism of the book when finally I turned the first virtual page. 

Prejudice isn't strong enough to describe the feeling.

HOWEVER (in capitals so it's shouty and unavoidable) disregard everything I've said above. 99p is an absolute bargain for this (although I intend to purchase a hard copy when funds allow). It is ineffable, but I will attempt something of a review to give you an idea of why you should drop everything and buy a copy of thi…

Christie Malry's Own Double-Entry by B. S. Johnson

I know, or knew, very little about B. S. Johnson, except in the capacity of disinterested bookseller, wherein he was a singular, if not significant, thorn in my side, his loose leafed volume, The Unfortunates, causing much consternation among customers who had no idea a) how to read the damned thing and b) HOW TO PUT IT BACK TOGETHER AGAIN. Indeed, he presaged the bookselling omnishambles of publishers like Phaidon with their book-in-a-bubble, or the ones with bloody rounded bottoms, or odd aspect ratios meaning they never ever fit or even stay on the damned shelves, and don't get me started on FUCKING SPIRAL BINDING.... ahem. Where was I? Oh yes. He had come to my attention only when someone brought me a copy of Albert Angelo and complained that someone had torn holes right through the pages. At the time, I somehow managed to hold my tongue, even when she went and found all of the copies we had to show me this vandal had done it to every single one, in exactly the same place. I d…

Sucker's Portfolio by Kurt Vonnegut