Tuesday, May 15, 2007

25. A Man of Affairs by John D. MacDonald

A Man of Affairs pictureThis is another of John D. MacDonald's non-Travis McGee books, dealing with business machinations and intrigue. I really enjoyed "A Key to the Suite" so I keep an eye open for these when they show up at used book stores. They are cheap, with cool covers and he has written quite a few. He does a good job of capturing the world of white male businessmen from the top to the bottom. And the corruption is there at every level. It takes different forms, but MacDonald does not hold back in showing that the evil and slime is inside the suit of the most sophisticated CEO as well as the tough who unloads the shrimp boat (and is handy with a gaff).

A Man of Affairs does not actually get so violent. It is more of a social drama. A group of people are invited to a private island in the Bahamas where they are being wooed to sell their shares to a shark-like investor (similar to the Gordon Gecko character, except 20 years earlier; just shows how little changes in the world of business). There are conflicts and sex and intrigue. It all centers around the one lower middle-class hardworking guy who has kept the company alive while its founder died. His ethical struggle, whether to accept the shark's tantalizing offer or fight him, is the center of the book.

Overall, this is good stuff and I am a big fan of MacDonald. But he loses me with the modern, romantic dialogue that goes on between the protagonist and his love interest. It's this really painful mix of early 60's white people lingo and what he considers post-feminism. So the women are frank, but coded, about sex in a way that is meant to be really adult and sophisticated but only reinforces the sexism of the period. And it is just annoying. This book has way, way too much of it. [insert quote here].

The ending was also all a bit pat. But it was still a good, quick airplane read with some great characters and descriptions and a bit of corporate tension.


Jason L said...

Very cool. I am on the lookout for some early JDM novels that he wrote in '50 and '51. It would be interesting to see what he did with that genre.
* Wine of the Dreamers (1950)
* Ballroom of the Skies (1951, novella)
* The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything
* Other Times, Other Worlds (collection)
* The First One (1950)

I have a PBO of this book and I dig the cover:

Jason L said...

Oops. I forgot to say that they were science fiction.

OlmanFeelyus said...

Wow, that cover is even sweeter than the one I found. I love the tweed suit.

Those titles are sci-fi!? That's wild. I'm going to keep a look out for them. I find it hard to imagine what a sci-fi book by JDM would be like.