Archive for April, 2016
Was helping cartoonist buddy George Pieper with his cartooning class booth here in The Villages, Florida, and who comes by? One of the most efficient people ever to work at Orlando City Hall, my fellow former City Hall pal, Peggy Peterson!!!
Number 3 in the series of ‘Flintlock’ and either the writer changed or somebody got in a big hurry to hit a deadline. One things for sure – The writer does not know swamps!
The over all story is good, but far simpler in telling than the previous two. Not helping is my reading great authors since reading the two. Folks like Walter Lippmann, Mark Greaney and John D. MacDonald.
I am so glad I read John D.’s ‘Condominium’ before reading this book. Odds of someone doing that is extremely low. The odd thing is that ‘Kill or Die’ is basically ‘Condominium’. Just that all of the characters have guns. There is the community living in the swamp, a ruthless developer out to wipe out the cypress swamp and the oncoming hurricane. The story was eerily similar.
The writing of the cypress swamp really bugged me. Obviously the writer has never stepped foot in one. I don’t know much about west of the Mississippi and all of the rocks and dirt in the west. Not my thing. But, here in Florida, I know swamps and like them a lot.
It’s supposedly late Summer in a Southern swamp. All of the characters acted comfortable. Even the most die hard Southerner sweats like crazy in late August. But most especially someone like Flintlock, used to the dry western air, would be having a hell of a time adjusting to the thick humidity.
Also, where are the bugs??? Now, most healthy swamps actually have few bugs. But this is described as home to many people. Thus, the swamp should be filled with all kinds of bugs. Few appear throughout the swamp scenes.
The BIGGEST omission, and a huge strike in my book, are the cypress knees. No one is just going to go trotting out into a swamp they don’t know and not, either, navigate around the knees or trip over them. NOT ONCE are knees mentioned. That’s impossible, for a cypress can not survive without the attached knees jutting out for air.
This is the least clever of the three Flintlocks. Rather a standard story with some excellent enhancing elements like the balloon, the odd mid-eastern valet and the description of Evangeline. The odd mysticism continues in this book, but not with the magical flair of the first two. The characters are very well done and typical of a Johnstone Clan book. The settings are lacking this time around, especially with the noted above. The ending appears to be multiple chapters tacked on, I guess, to increase page count. This is the shortest of the Flintlock series by 100 pages.
Proof to me that this is surely a different writer is that Flintlock is not described as in the other two books. The tattoo is only described on his neck and not running from the side of his face to his chest. Also, Flintlock is not described by his shorter stature or mustache. Also, O’Hara’s character has greatly altered to being more of a side kick than the drifter described in the first two.
This third book continues the trend of having a horrible cover. Still not Flintlock on the cover. Also, the background in know way looks like a Louisiana swamp.
Can’t believe I’ve caught up with a Johnstone Clan title! First series I’ve read all that are available.
Bottom l;ine: i recommend this book. 6 out of ten points.
A bunch of old cartoonist pals, and a bunch of other cartoonists, got together today to draw for children at Florida Hospital Orlando. Here’s Noreen & George Pieper, me, Dana Summers and Mark Simon.
Thanks to Mark Simon and Heather Worley (Thank you, Heather, for this photo!) for putting this together as part of the Florida Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society. Also, thanks, Mark, for getting the chapter restarted again!
I’ll also post here that we are having his memorial service this coming Tuesday, 11am, at Florida National Cemetery. Anyone wanting to attend, please send me a private message and I’ll provide further details.
The saddest part of this book for me was the realization that my tastes have really changed since 40 years ago when I first discovered MacDonald. The writing drew me in and I love Travis McGee. During the next 25 years of tracking down the 77 novels and other work he did, I presented him as my favorite author. i must back down from that now. ‘Condominium’ is a triumph for any author to accomplish. Just not a triumph i care for.
Part of my trouble is the fatalist view throughout the entire book and fed through all of the characters. There is little to nothing happy about the book. Not that there has to be. Unless you want a feel of realism in your story.
The story is just peppered with unreal characters that hate life, expect the worst, find morality an irritating speed bump and are mostly unlikable. Making it all worse is that all of the characters are far too over written. So you get far too much of the latter. There is just no reason to know so much about such a large group of characters. Especially when the bulk of what is depicted is depressing. MacDonald went far out of his way to maybe put a line or two good about each and then bury it all in a pile of a rotten view of life. A good story needs balance of good and evil.
Of the bulk of MacDonald I’ve read, this is one I always put off. Due to the celebration of MacDonald’s 100th birthday, i’m diving back into the 150 of so MacDonald books and such I have. ‘Condominium’ thought to be his crowning achievement had to be read. So I did and wish I hadn’t. I realize I need to read MacDonald with a chaser somewhat uplifting.
The setting is more than well described from sunken rebar to truss and the detailed described plans that go with it…oh, AND the financials. Having worked in Planning and Engineering and having poured through thousands of pages of various construction plans, i found this interesting, if a bit naive about the permitting process.
To me , the last fifth of the book, involving the hurricane is too short and much is left hanging about various characters and the fate of the condominium. Easily a sixth of the book could have been edited out. Trouble is, at this point, MacDonald was throwing a political anvil around and wouldn’t let up to his death. ‘One More Sunday’, which I read when it came out, I well remember as a strongly disturbing tale that i came out of wondering of MacDonald’s ability to reason anymore. Still I upheld him my favorite author! I wonder if he would have lived longer if he had let up being so upset about so much.
Involving the Florida setting: Much I refer to above. More specifically, he well portrays the suckers who move to Florida. Most all are, whether they want to admit it or not. MacDoanlds does a terrific job laying out foolish decisions and how so many are set up by intricate business plans that really do still occur today. Construction of structures has gotten far, far worse since the late 1970s as chipboard and Tyvek have been elected as the cheap industry norm. I agree with MacDonald that fools move to Florida and get what they deserve. If only they would research their move first. Of course, they don’t have George Gobel around anymore to seduce them to the state.
The issues of construction are written by MacDonald to bludgeon his political point. He maneuvers away from the actual process of pulling permits, construction meetings, site work and the actual process of building a structure.
His environmental concerns are mostly valid. Though he again writes to make a point and slithers away from pointing out that if the area was as rickety as he describes, constructing foundations would have been tough to pull off. His writing of clearing mangroves and vegetation is right on. This is an area he always wrote loosely about, which came to my attention after reading what my ex-wife, Sandra Friend, could/can write about natural Florida. From that I get the feeling MacDonald really didn’t have a handle of that subject and the idea of writing of beauty and majestic landscapes was not something that fit in his dark views of the world.
Hate writing this next part, but I viewing the above:
Bottom line: I don’t recommend this book. 4 out of 10 points.
The first was a visit with the friends I was staying with this past weekend. Sandy Rhodes Huff & her husband Bill attend Heritage United Methodist Church in Clearwater. Bill was singing with the church quartet. Thanks to them for their hospitality again and cheers to Bill for a great performance. The first sketch is of the pastor done from the back of the room, as usual.
After the hike a run to Ocala for the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Mt. Zion AME Church. Got a lot more sketching done and learned lots about the church. More over at Swampy’s Florida. The rest of the sketches are from that visit. Bit of a handicap here as I left my glasses in the automobile and I was in back of the room.
A more than full day and I’m fully pooped!
First, I have to repeat part of my review of Greaney’s ‘Ballistic’: Wow! This is a rip roaring book. Greaney takes his characters far away from what might be expected. Where he takes them and the story that unfolds is terrific!
The Gray Man does have a bit too much of a super hero stance, but he fails so often that Greaney illustrates him as human. Absolutely love the two views of The Gray Man. One is from the main character himself, who lays out his deep insecurities and concerns of his future. The other view is from everyone else which view him as everything from a monster to a humanitarian – basically he’s viewed as an unknown mysterious character. Greaney’s ability to so well accomplish this feat is amazing, especially for the genre he typically writes in.
Despite this being an entirely different tale with far different setting, characters, motivation, etc., this book gets the same above praise.
Let me add that the Dead Eye character was superbly written. Not just as a character but as how he is used to reveal other interesting information. For some reason Jeremy Piven kept coming to mind as I read the book.
There are lots of other characters also excellently drawn by Greaney. The setting, which is complex at times, may have you shivering and claustrophobic. Excellent work.
I will add, as I did with ‘Ballistic”, that convenient characters are used more than they should be. A little too easy a devise to the point I was expecting it.
This is a long book. But so much happens and the book is so exciting that you will be propelled through very quickly.
Bootom Line: I recommend this book. 9 out of 10 points.
I penciled this illustration for a celebration of a well known fried chicken location. I’ll be inking it soon.