MacDonald Holds Forth on:
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.
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
"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.
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
in THE GREEN RIPPER, p.283.
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
[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
"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
"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
"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.
DANGER AND COPING
[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
[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.
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.
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.
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
"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.
"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.
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.
LOVE AND SEX
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
"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.
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.
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.