Save for a couple of the hardbacks, all my Travis McGee books are either lent out -- which means gone forever -- or if they are paperbacks, in a box in the attic.
MacDonald also wrote a shitload of other novels in the adventure/thriller/detective arena, starting in 1950; as well as a few science fiction titles: Wine of the Dreamers, Ballroom of the Skies, and The Girl, the Gold Watch and Everything. They'd all be in the same box.
I haven't revisited the older titles in a while, but whilst in Powell's yesterday, I came across a book-club omnibus consisting of: The Quick Red Fox, Pale Gray for Guilt, and Dress Her in Indigo, all from the sixties. Book was cheap, dust-jacket in okay condition, so I picked it up. It's a reader, not a collector.
In 1964, there were four Travis McGee books released, two in '65, two in '66. None in '67, but two in '68, and one or two a year from then until the last one in 1985. Fox was the fourth title. Guilt, the 9th, Indigo, the 11th. (They were all a lot shorter than most novels today, which was the norm for the time. And he was prolific.)
They will read as period pieces now --written and set in the pre-computer, pre-internet days of yore, but I'm looking forward to seeing how well they've held up. I confess I expect pretty well, not only because my eyes will be fogged with nostalgia, but because, in the words of the late Ted Sturgeon, "I don't believe he (MacDonald) ever wrote a bad book."
I regret that I never had a chance to meet the man. I did send him a copy of my first novel when it came out, given how much I swiped from him. He was on the road, but his secretary sent a note saying they'd gotten it. After he died, I traded a couple of letters with Dan Rowan, who had been MacDonald's buddy, gotten crosswise with him, but reconciled just before MacDonald died. There's a book of the letters those two exchanged.
MacDonald had a few movie deals that finally saw light -- couple Travis McGee things that, not to be impolite, stank on ice, mostly because of the casting. And the setting. And the writing. But other than that, they were pretty awful. Supposedly there's another one sort-of in the works.
Probably MacDonald's best transfer to the silver screen was The Executioners, which was done twice, both times as Cape Fear. First version started Gregory Peck, Polly Bergen, and Robert Mitchum, in 1962. Second version was in 1991, with Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange, and Robert De Niro.
First version, Mitchum was ball-chilling scary and you never really saw anything overtly nasty.
Second version, directed by Martin Scorcsese, in which case, more was considerably less. Marty is a great director, and De Niro a great actor, but it was no contest. Smartest thing Scorsese did was give Mitchum a part in the new movie.