MacDonald Holds Forth on:

Law Enforcement
Danger and Coping
Love and Sex
Interesting Facts

Note: All page numbers given in this website are taken from whatever edition of the book I happened to have. These books have all been repeatedly reissued, so my page numbers may be off (probably not by much) from the copy you have.



"I remembered one of Meyer's concepts about cultural resiliency. In the third world, the village of one thousand can provide itself with what it needs for survival. Smash the cities and half the villages, and the other half keep going. In our world, the village of one thousand has to import water, fuel, food, clothing, medicine, electric power, and entertainment. Smash the cities and all the villages die." Travis in THE GREEN RIPPER, p. 183.

"What happens to too many of these farmers, they turn into machinery junkies... they want to go deep in hock to buy something about half again too big for the piece they're working... Then suppose they drop the support level on his crop. He can't meet the payments on all that equipment, and pretty soon he gets foreclosed and loses the land too. And everybody from John Deere to International Harvester helps push them into bigger stuff. Fancy advertising." Bunky (farm equipment store owner) in CINNAMON SKIN p.130.
"As the purchasing power of currencies of the world erodes, Travis, all the unique and the limited-quantity items in the world go up. Waterfront land. Rare books and paintings. Heirloom silver. Rare postage stamps." Meyer in THE SCARLET RUSE, p.19.
"Dry-cleaning money gets more expensive all the time. One way they are using lately is you buy yourself a broker, one who'll fake back records for the sake of the commission and a little present. Then you set up a buy five years ago for something that has gone up like eight hundred percent. Then you have the sale records faked too and pay capital gains, and what you have left is legitimate and you can invest it legitimate." Willy Nucci in THE SCARLET RUSE, p.44.



"It comes down to this, Travis--there are too many mouths to feed. One million three hundred thousand more every week! And of all the people who have ever been alive on Earth, more than half are living right now. We are gnawing the planet bare, and technology can't keep pace with need." Meyer, in THE GREEN RIPPER, p.15.

"It is man's primal urge to decimate himself down to numbers which can exist on the worn out planet." Meyer in THE GREEN RIPPER, p.283.
"All the barroom sociologists were orating about national fiber while, every minute and every hour, the most incredible population explosion in history was rendering their views, their judgments, even their very lives more obsolete... They should hark to the locust. When there is only a density of X per acre, he is a plain old grasshopper, munching circumspectly, content with his home ground. Raise it to 2X and an actual physical change begins to occur. His color changes, his jaw gets bigger, and the wing muscles begin to grow. At 3X they take off in great hungry clouds, each cloud a single herd instinct, chomping everything bare in its path. There is no decline in the moral fiber of the grasshopper. There is just a mass pressure canceling out all individual decisions." Travis in BRIGHT ORANGE FOR THE SHROUD, p.64.



[Re Florida] "We're getting a thousand new residents a day... We get thirty eight million tourists a year... And the rivers and swamps are dying, the birds are dying, the fish are dying. They're paving the whole state... Everything is going to stop working all at once. Then watch the exodus." Travis in CINNAMON SKIN, p.101.

"Florida was second rate, flashy and cheap, tacky and noisy. The water supply was failing. The developers were moving in on the marshlands and estuaries, pleading new economic growth. The commercial fishermen were an endangered species. Miami was the world's murder capital... Wary folks stayed off the unlighted beaches and dimly lighted streets at night, fearing the minority knife, the ethnic club, the bullet from the stolen gun." Travis in CINNAMON SKIN, p.108.
"San Francisco is the most depressing city in America. The come-latelys might not think so... But there are too many of us who used to love her. She was like a wild classy kook of a gal, one of those rain-walkers, laughing gray eyes, tousle of dark hair--sea misty, a lithe and lively lady, who could laugh at you or with you, and at herself when needs be... A girl to be in love with, with love like a heady magic... She used to give it away, but now she sells it to the tourists. She imitates herself." Travis in THE QUICK RED FOX, p.83.



"Florida elects its sheriffs on a party basis, a shockingly bad system... Law enforcement has become so complex, technical, and demanding, so dependent on the expert use of expert equipment, one might as well say it would make as much sense to elect brain surgeons from the public at large as sheriffs." Travis in THE EMPTY COPPER SEA, p.59.

"Fingerprints work fine on television. But, on a rough guess, they get a usable print off one out of every hundred guns, one out of every twenty cars. ...It is usually more meaningful to find a car wiped clean... Then that has some significance." Travis in A PURPLE PLACE FOR DYING, p.55.



[Re assuming an identity] "People take you at the value you put upon yourself. That makes it easy for them. All you do is blend in. Accept the customs of every new tribe. And you try not to say too much because then you sound as if you were selling something... Sweetie, everybody in this wide world is so constantly, continuously concerned with the impact he's making, he just doesn't have the time to wonder too much about the next guy." Travis in BRIGHT ORANGE FOR THE SHROUD, p.85.

[On carrying concealed money] "You get hold of one of the longer ace bandages for people with trick knees... You divide the money into two equal stacks, fold each in half, wrap each stack in pliofilm, slip one under the bandage above the knee in front, one above the knee in back. No risk of losing. Nothing uncomfortable. Just a comforting presence." Travis in THE TURQUOISE LAMENT, p.13.
[On learning to shoot a handgun] "...tape a pencil flashlight with a very narrow beam to the barrel, exactly in line with it, and rig it so that you can comfortably turn the beam on for an instant with thumb or finger. Then stand in a room in the dusk, turn and fire, spin and fire, fall and fire, at the lamp, the corner of the picture, the book on the table, a magazine on the floor. Point naturally as if pointing the forefinger, arm in a comfortable position, never bringing it up to the eye to aim. An hour of practice can develop an astonishing accuracy." Travis in THE SCARLET RUSE, p.267.



"Nobody can ever get too much approval." Quote from John Leonard, PRIVATE LIVES IN THE IMPERIAL CITY in the frontspiece to FREE FALL IN CRIMSON.

"You can be at ease only with those people to whom you can say any damn fool thing that comes into your head, knowing they will respond in kind, and knowing that any misunderstandings will be thrashed out right now, rather than buried deep and given a chance to fester." Travis in DARKER THAN AMBER, p.10.
"No matter how many times you do it, how many times you pretend to be someone you aren't, and you get the goodhearted cooperation of some trusting person, you feel a little bit soiled. There is no smart-ass pleasure to be gained from misleading the innocent." Travis in CINNAMON SKIN p.122.
"One good way [to detect poisonous females] is to watch how the other women react... Just the way, honey, a woman should be damned wary of a man other men have no use for." Travis in BRIGHT ORANGE FOR THE SHROUD, p.27.
[Regarding hunting] "Never had I met the man who had the infantry memories, who had knocked down human meat and seen it fall, who ever had any stomach for shooting living things... His manhood would need no artificial reinforcing." Travis in A DEADLY SHADE OF GOLD, p.231.
"Somehow you can tell the real crazies from the broken birds." Travis in ONE FEARFUL YELLOW EYE, p.15.
"...she hadn't had a chance. She was too passive, too permissive, too subdued for an emotional fascist like Charlie. He had eroded her confidence in herself, in everything she thought she was able to do, from meeting people to cooking dinner to driving a car... Were the sexes reversed you would call it emasculation. People like Charlie work toward total and perpetual domination." Travis in DARKER THAN AMBER, p.8.



"In a man's home you live by his code. It does not have to be typed out and glued to the guest suite door. He did not want me to to kick his dogs, overwork his horses, bribe his servants, read his diary, filch his silverware, borrow his toothbrush, or lay his wife." Travis in A TAN AND SANDY SILENCE, p.31.

"A woman who does not guard and treasure herself cannot be of very much value to anyone else... Only a woman of pride, complexity, and emotional tension is genuinely worth the act of love, and there are only two ways to get yourself one of them. Either you lie, and stain the relationship with your own sense of guile, or you accept the involvement, the emotional responsibility, the permanence she must by nature crave. I love you can be said only two ways." Travis in THE DEEP BLUE GOODBYE, p.24.
"But the Tibetan bar-headed goose and her gander have a very strange ceremony they perform after they have mated. They rise high in the water, wings spread wide, beaks aimed straight up at the sky, time and time again, making great bugle sounds of honking. The behaviorists think it is unprofessional to use subjective terms about animal patterns. So they don't call this ceremony joy. They don't know what to call it. These geese live for up to fifty years, and they mate for life. They celebrate the mating this same way year after year. If one dies, the other never mates again." Travis in A TAN AND SANDY SILENCE, p.151.
[Travis attempts to dispel his partner's postcoital guilt by quoting Homer] "...'Dear to us ever is the banquet and the harp and the dance and changes of raiment and the warm bath and love and sleep.'" THE DREADFUL LEMON SKY, p.183.


"One very sound rule for the body is always keep in mind what it was designed to do. The body was shaped by the need to run long distances on resiliant turf, to run very fast for short distances, to climb trees, and to carry loads back to the cave, so any persistent exercises you do which is not a logical part of that ancient series of uses is, in general, bad for the body." Travis in CINNAMON SKIN p.99.

"An office-softened body in its middle years needs a long, long time to come around. Until a man can walk seven miles in two hours without blowing like a porpoise, without sweating gallons, without bumping his heart past 120, it is asinine to start jogging. ...Walking briskly no less than six hours a week will do it..." Travis in THE GREEN RIPPER, p.31.



"Small things can be hidden in public places. There was a bank of new storage lockers in the Bus Station. They were quite flush against the rear wall. I taped it at shoulder height to the back of the lockers, out of sight." Travis in THE GREEN RIPPER, p.125.

"I have caught about every kind of body louse a bountiful nature provides. And I have yet to contract a case that did not respond immediately to plain old vinegar... It kills the crabs and kills the eggs, and the itching stops almost immediately." Meyer in A TAN AND SANDY SILENCE, p.230.
[To disguise your handwriting] "Merely hold the pencil as straight up and down as possible, use all capitals, and base them all on a square format, so that the O for example, becomes a square, and an A is a square with the base line missing and a line bisecting it horizontally. No handwriting expert can ever make a positive identification of printing done in that manner, because it bears no relation to your narmal handwriting." Travis in A DEADLY SHADE OF GOLD, p.64.
[How to locate invisible planets] "...the visible ones act in erratic and inexplicable fashion. Their orbits are . . . warped. So you apply gravitational theory and a little geometry of moving spheres and you say, Aha, if there is a planetary body right there of such and such a mass and such and such an orbit, then all the random movements of the other planets become logical, even imperative." Meyer in THE DREADFUL LEMON SKY, p.95.

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