Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The End of the Night Returns

   A small but brilliant point of light recently pierced the murky, confused world of book publishing. It’s that changed world where more is better; where volume rules over quality.
   Random House has started republishing the works of John D. MacDonald the crime novelist who died almost 30 years ago. MacDonald’s writing was at its peak 50 years ago, notably through his Travis McGee series of crime novels.
   MacDonald had a huge following way back then, but his loyal readers began to pass away and his work began the slide into obscurity. Stephen King, the current master of suspense and horror stories, helped to halt the slide with his published comments about MacDonald, a writer whom he idolized. King called MacDonald’s novel The End of the Night one of the greatest American novels of the 20th century. He ranked it with Arthur Miller’s Death of Salesman.
   Anything Stephen King has to say about writers and writing catches my attention and I went looking for The End of the Night. It was out of print and the only copies available were too costly.
John Dann MacDonald
   Then I discovered that this year Random House began republishing MacDonald, notably his non-Travis McGee works such as The End of the Night. You don’t have to read far into that novel to understand King’s praise. The storytelling and characterizations are brilliant. His descriptions are so subtle and light that they float into your mind where they leave hard-to-forget images. So unlike much of today’s writing where authors push the reader’s face into their work and leave nothing for the imagination.
   I’m glad Random House has brought John MacDonald back to us, in digital format as well as paper.
   Incidentally, anyone who knows nothing about John Dann MacDonald probably has seen some of his work. His novel The Executioners was made into the famous movie Cape Fear, starring Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum in 1962, then Robert De Niro and Nick Nolte in a 1991 remake.