Book Review: Fletch and the Man Who by Gregory Mcdonald

Fletch and the Man Who by Gregory Mcdonald (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)

I’m slowly nearing the end of the entire Fletch series, but they still manage to stay relevant and interesting. Fletch and the Man Who is certainly no exception. In fact, I might argue that it is not only still very relevant to modern culture, but that it has actually ripened with age.

Caxton’s Technology Platform

The most interesting portions of the book were the prescience of the role of technology in modern life that were described within it. Mcdonald wrote this in 1983 long before the advent or ubiquitization of satellite communications, cellular phones, desktop computers, and even the internet. Yet somehow the discussion being pushed by the lead presidential candidate in the story feels very forward thinking and is highly relevant even today. Given the rise of Twitter and Facebook, it may actually be more interesting and relevant today than when the book was written in the early 1980s. Interestingly it feels like we have yet to figure out where technology is taking us. This book brings up a lot of philosophical ideas that we’re still heavily grappling with and on even deeper levels. Some of the mentions of religion and politics are all still alive and well in the modern political scene (though Communism/Marxism have died and disappeared after this book was written) and are just as touchy in their relation to technology. The recent presidential campaign certainly highlighted some of these technology issues, particularly with relation to the effect on political communication via fake news and Facebook. Mcdonald takes aim at the idea of “truth” within a political campaign and having a well informed electorate.

Political Satire

There is some really great satire on politics in the book. Oddly, not much of it originates with Fletch or his views on life. While there are a handful of good zingers that Fletch delivers in his wry signature fashion, this book seemed like a major departure in that the supporting characters take on the typical Fletch role of smartasses. This felt interesting and almost natural from a storytelling point of view as Fletch himself actually throws off his typical rebel character mantle to “join the establishment” and run interference for the presidential candidate’s press corps. Most interesting to me a lot of the mentions about politics still play as well today as they did 30+ years ago.

Other observations

We meet one of Fletch’s old war buddies and learn a few new pieces of backstory that flesh out his character a bit more, which is something I didn’t expect as much of at this point in the series.

There isn’t as much sexual tension in this as in some of the past works, but Freddie Arbuthnot makes a reappearance and really forces Fletch to work overtime for her approval. This seemed more interesting to me than some of Fletch’s past sexual exploits which seemed to come too easily for him. It’s more interesting to see him have to work at creating a relationship, particularly with a woman who had previously thrown herself at him.

Of interest to me with regard to the plotting and the reveal at the end was that there were a nice number of potential suspects. Better, despite my decade+ affair with Law & Order and similar procedurals on television, there was just enough psychological subtlety and distance that the reveal of the killer was not only well motivated but also hidden enough to be entertaining right up to the end. (No spoilers here…)

One thing I did miss was the complete lack of phony characters invented by Fletch as cover stories. To my recollection there were none in this installment. I did however notice that a despicable character in the plot had the name Hanrahan which was (probably not coincidentally) one of the fictional names that popped up in a cover story Fletch spun in the film version of the first book:

Well now, you know that and I know that, but… somebody’s bucking for a promotion. Probably that pederast Hanrahan. I don’t know. All I know is if I don’t go back with something, you and your son-in-law are going to be the scapegoats of the week.

This book would have been out and available well in advance of the May 31, 1985 release of the film.

There were a few tidbits that could have been better resolved at the end (what was Caxton really doing during those disappearances?), but overall, this was a very satisfying and interesting read. It’s certainly made me think about politics and the philosophy of technology in a different way than I have been recently, and for that this may have been to me the most interesting book in the series so far. Some of the philosophy in particular deserves additional thought and study, and may motivate me to actually re-read this one.

Fletch and the Man Who
Fletch and the Man Who
Reading Progress
  • 08/7/16 marked as: want to read; “The Rio Olympics reminded me that I’d gotten Carioca Fletch to read back in the 80’s and never got around to it, so I thought I’d come back and revisit the series.”
  • 11/03/16 started reading
  • 11/03/16 02.0% done
  • 11/05/16 03.0% done
  • 11/08/16 04.0% done
  • 11/11/16 08.0% done
  • 11/20/16 18.0% done
  • 11/21/16 21.0% done; “Fletch has a new job, and like usual, the first few minutes of the book throw us right into a riveting high concept. Where we’re ultimately headed is anyone’s guess…”
  • 11/22/16 22.0% done
  • 11/23/16 35.0% done; “Usually Fletch is the one with all the sharp, ascerbic statements, but in this installment I’m noticing that he’s the tame one and everyone else is somehow playing the part he usually does.”
  • 11/24/16 56.0% done
  • 11/25/16 Finished book; “There’s some great stuff in the last half of the book about Wheeler’s platform that is eerily prescient of the situation we now find ourselves in with regard to a heavily internet connected world and who owns it. It’s also an odd feeling reading this after experiencing what’s recently happened in the 2016 presidential election and it’s ensuing results.”

Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia

On a presidential campaign, all the crises are biggies. You’ve only got a few minutes to learn that.
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Added on Thursday, November 3, 2016 11:39:44 PM

tout
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This is a great word that’s usually only used in horse racing settings. I suspect that it’s second most-oft used setting is politics, so it’s certainly at home here.

Added on Thursday, November 3, 2016 11:41:19 PM

“I knew you had something other than pretzels between the ears.”
“Potato chips.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 75-76

Added on Thursday, November 3, 2016 11:44:42 PM

“Going my way?” he asked.
“No,” she answered. “I’m on my way up.”
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Added on Thursday, November 3, 2016 11:46:06 PM

“You don’t read Newsworld?”
“My dentist doesn’t subscribe.”
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Added on Thursday, November 3, 2016 11:46:52 PM

“You don’t read the Newsworld Syndicate?”
“Not on crime. Gross stuff, crime. Reports on what the coroner found in the victim’s lower intestine. I don’t even want to know what’s in my own lower intestine.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 106-108

Added on Saturday, November 5, 2016 11:06:02 PM

“You couldn’t have gotten here that fast from New York or Los Angeles or—or from wherever you hang your suspicions.”
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Added on Saturday, November 5, 2016 11:07:46 PM

“The Press is The People, sir.”
“Funny,” said The Man Who. “I thought the government is.
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Added on Saturday, November 5, 2016 11:10:36 PM

The living room was decorated in Super Motel. There was a bad painting on the wall, oil on canvas, of a schooner under full sail.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 166-167
Fletch always does enjoy commenting on art, and this bit of satire about the sameness of motel rooms is no different in allowing him some commentary.

Added on Tuesday, November 8, 2016 2:16:39 AM

“Motels and gas stations expect even presidential candidates to pay their bills. It’s the American way.”
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Added on Friday, November 11, 2016 9:36:20 PM

they’d desert us faster than kittens leave a gully in the January thaw.
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Added on Friday, November 11, 2016 9:37:00 PM

“Working on a book,” Fletch said.
“On politics?”
“On an American western artist. You know: Edgar Arthur Tharp, Junior.”
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Added on Friday, November 11, 2016 9:39:22 PM

“Isn’t American politics a crusade of amateurs?”
“Who said that?”
“I did. I think.”
“You’re wrong. But it has a nice ring to it.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 229-232

Added on Friday, November 11, 2016 9:40:09 PM

“I understand the job of press secretary is to keep paintin’ the picket fence around the main house. Just keep paintin’ it. Whatever’s goin’ on inside, the outside is to look pretty.”
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Added on Friday, November 11, 2016 9:46:35 PM

“Where’d you get the money?”
“You can save a lot of money by not smoking.”
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Added on Friday, November 11, 2016 9:48:09 PM

“And do you have any good ideas?”
“Just one, for now.”
“And what would that be?”
“To be loyal to you.” Fletch grinned. “Until I get a better offer. Isn’t that what you just said politics is all about?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 304-307

Added on Friday, November 11, 2016 9:48:48 PM

“Don’t know how the press will accept him,” the governor said. “Fletch looks like breakfast to someone with a hangover.”
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Added on Friday, November 11, 2016 9:51:55 PM

Ups
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Should have been “lips”.

Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 9:38:17 AM

“You know how to make the best of a bad situation, Fletch. And a presidential campaign is one bad situation after another.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 535-536

Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 9:52:16 AM

“Walsh, you’ve been drinking.” She stood up only partway.
“Had to spend some time in the bar, Mother. Something happened. This girl—”
Doris Wheeler slapped her son, hard.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 563-566

Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 9:58:41 AM

“Well,” Walsh finally said, “I’m glad I gave you my lecture on loyalty, before you saw that.”
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Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 9:58:55 AM

“Dearly beloved,” said the governor.
“Now you’re leaving out Arbuthnot!” said Joe Hall.
“All creatures great and small?” asked the governor.
“Why’s that man up there calling us a bunch of animals?” Stella Kirchner asked Bill Dieckmann loudly. “Trying to get elected game warden or something?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 585-590

Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 10:00:49 AM

“Good morning,” Fletch said. “As the governor’s press representative, I make you the solemn promise that I will never lie to you. Today, on this bus, we will be passing through Miami, New Orleans, Dallas, New York, and Keokuk, Iowa. Per usual, at midday you will be flown to San Francisco for lunch. Today’s menu is clam chowder, pheasant under glass, roast Chilean lamb, and a strawberry mousse from Maine. Everything the governor says today will be significant, relevant, wise, to the point, and as fresh as the lilies in the field.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 610-614

Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 10:05:24 AM

“Is it true you saved Walsh Wheeler’s life overseas?” Fenella Baker asked.
“That’s another thing,” Fletch said. “I will never evade any of your questions.” He turned the microphone off and hung it up.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 624-627

Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 10:06:40 AM

“How does it feel to be an adversary of the press?” From her seat on the bus, Freddie Arbuthnot grinned up at Fletch.
“Some people,” announced Fletch, “think I always have been.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 628-630

Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 10:07:28 AM

“You’re a help.”
“You’ll never make it.”
“I know it.”
“That’s all right.” She patted him on the arm. “I’ll destroy you as painlessly as possible.”
“Great. I’d appreciate that. Are you sure you’re up to it?”
“Up to what?”
“Destroying me.”
“It will be easy,” she said. “Because of all those conflicts in yourself. You’ve never tried to be a member of the establishment before, Fletch. I mean, let’s face it: you’re a born-and-bred rebel.”
“I bought a necktie for this job.”
She studied his solid red tie. “Nice one, too. Looks like you’re already bleeding from the neck.”
“Got it in the airport in Little Rock.”
“Limited selection?”
“No. They had five or six to choose from.”
“That was the best?”
“I thought so.”
“You only bought one, though, right?”
“Didn’t know how long this job would last.”
“Glad you didn’t make too big an investment in your future as a member of the establishment.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 655-671

Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 10:12:26 AM

“The definition of a press representative. You are game as fair as any, seasoned, roasted, carved, and chewed.”
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Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 10:13:54 AM

“We’re being overcome by machines.” Freddie sat up again. “They’ll have their day. Or so they predict. And they’re always right. Right?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 748-750

Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 10:19:14 AM

Your Bookmark on Location 811

Added on Sunday, November 20, 2016 11:50:32 PM

“Vic Robbins! Upton’s advance man?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 839-840

Added on Monday, November 21, 2016 12:01:09 AM

speechwriters Phil Nolting and Paul Dobson
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Added on Monday, November 21, 2016 12:01:26 AM

Lee Allen Parke
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Added on Monday, November 21, 2016 12:01:49 AM

Barry Hines, the campaign’s communication chief
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Added on Monday, November 21, 2016 12:01:59 AM

Flash Grasselli
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Added on Monday, November 21, 2016 12:02:51 AM

Michael J. Hanrahan
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His last name is the same as the pederast’s name in the film Fletch during the Poon scene; it also would have been written in time to have been read and included into the movie.

Added on Monday, November 21, 2016 12:06:32 AM

scabrous
Highlight (orange) – Location 919-919

Added on Monday, November 21, 2016 12:07:43 AM

He put his chin up at Fletch, who was still on the stairs of the campaign bus, and tried to give Fletch a penetrating look with bloodshot eyes, each in its own pool of poison.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 925-926
great bit of language for a vile character

Added on Tuesday, November 22, 2016 4:20:14 AM

Even Hanrahan’s neck was turning red. “You know how many readers I got?” he shouted.
“Yeah,” Freddie said. “Everyone in the country who can’t read, reads Newsbill. Big deal.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 948-950

Added on Tuesday, November 22, 2016 4:22:00 AM

Dr. Thom spoke with extraordinary slowness. “Anyone trying to handle the press can have anything he wants from me: poisoned gas, flamethrowers, machine guns, hand grenades. If I don’t have such medical and surgical tools on hand, I shall secure them for you at greatly reduced rates.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 968-971

Added on Tuesday, November 22, 2016 4:24:11 AM

“Do you really think so? Neither the substance of America’s favorite sport, politics, nor the substance of America’s favorite food, the hot dog, can bear too much analysis. If the innards of either American politics or the American hot dog were too fully revealed, the American would have to disavow and disgorge himself.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 976-979
similar to Bismark on laws and sausage

Added on Tuesday, November 22, 2016 4:25:06 AM

Fenella Baker and Betsy Ginsberg. I had been talking with Bill Dieckmann
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Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:07:07 AM

Of course, if I ever come across a lawyer lying on the sidewalk, I’ll tread on his face.”
“You don’t like lawyers either?”
“Even lawyers’ mothers don’t like lawyers. If you do a survey, I think you’ll find that lawyers’ mothers are the strongest advocates of legal abortions in the land.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1013-1017

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:08:02 AM

“Ask me some questions.”
“Ask anything?”
“Anything your heart desires. You know a man more from his questions than from his answers. Who said that?”
“You just did.”
“Let’s not make a note of it.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1081-1084

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:13:37 AM

The governor was smiling. “The American people don’t want anyone with deep convictions as President of the United States. People with deep convictions are dangerous. They’re incapable of the art of governing a democracy because they’re incapable of compromise. People with deep convictions put everyone who disagrees with them in prison. Then they blow the world up. You don’t want that, do you?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1098-1101

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:15:01 AM

“Didactic but not dogmatic is the rule for a good politician. Who said that?”
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Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:15:43 AM

poltroon
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Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:16:59 AM

Then Fletch said in a rush, “Ideology will never equalize the world. Technology is doing so.”
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Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:17:41 AM

“Yeah, but Newsbill’s readers are too ashamed to identify themselves to each other.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1166-1167
This sounds a lot like many Trump supporters before the election. They wouldn’t identify until after-the-fact.

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:19:22 AM

“Arbuthnot and Hanrahan.” The governor was smoothing his jacket. “Sounds like a manufacturer of pneumatic drills.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1262-1263

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:25:09 AM

“Are we at the right school?”
“Oh, yes,” the governor said. “They couldn’t have played ‘America’ that badly without practicing it.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1322-1324

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:34:41 AM

“What kind of a story did some of you find to phone in? I saw you at the phone.”
“You don’t know?”
“No idea.”
“Some press rep. you are. You ever been on a campaign before?”
“No.”
“You’re cute, Fletcher. But I don’t think you should be on this one, either.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1336-1341

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:36:05 AM

“I used to pray in school,” Roy Filby said from the seat behind Betsy. “Before every exam. Swear like hell afterward.”
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Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:37:18 AM

To Betsy, Fletch said, “I have a question for you, okay?”
“The answer is yes,” she said. “Anytime. You don’t even have to bring a bottle of wine.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1382-1384
What a way to proposition someone…

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:39:17 AM

Fletch too wondered why Fenella Baker’s face didn’t itch. Surely some of that powder had been on it since the days of Jimmy Carter.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1401-1402

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:40:26 AM

Freddie said. She continued reading Jay Daly’s Walls.
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Walls is a work of fiction from 1981 in which “Frankie O’Day, an incurable graffiti writer, has to deal with pranksterish friends, an alcoholic father, and a new romance.”

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:43:07 AM

“Yes. Drinking rum toffs.”
“What’s a rum toff?”
Highlight (orange) – Location 1495-1496
I suspect he’s making a reference to rumptopf (or rum pot) here

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:47:17 AM

“Somebody in a presidential family ought to marry a Ginsberg. We do nice table settings.”
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Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:53:21 AM

“Irwin!” Roy Filby echoed. “I’d rather see one than be one!”
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I read this little snipe at Fletch (and the ubiquitous mention of his disliked first name) as a blatant reference to the Gelett Burgess nonsense poem Purple Cow first published in 1895. One will note the reference comes via verbal transmission rather than direct as the line is slightly modified.

I never saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I’d rather see than be one. [1]

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:53:41 AM

“How did you know my name is Irwin?” Fletch asked.
The bus driver said: “Just guessed.”
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Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 12:54:59 AM

“Guess they don’t think too badly of bribing schoolchildren.”
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Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 2:04:32 PM

“Sweet Wheat, the breakfast cereal that makes kiddies yell for more.”
“Yell with the toothache,” Paul Dobson said. “They’re yelling because it makes their teeth hurt!”
“Make ’em hypertensive with sugar at breakfast,” Phil Nolting intoned, as if quoting, “then slap ’em down at school.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1572-1576
Could these two have been the inspiration for Larry and Ed on the television show The West Wing?

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 2:05:14 PM

“I don’t think the American people are apt to consider an older man handing out coins to little kids as Beelzebub.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1623-1623

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 2:08:55 PM

“Who was the first one to say ‘If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen’?”
“Uh—Fred Fenton?”
“Who was he?”
“Cooked for Henry the Eighth.” The governor gave him a weird look. “Buried under the chapel at the Tower of London. Forgot to take the poultry lacers out of roast falcons.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1638-1642

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 2:10:20 PM

“… It used to be that what happened in New York and Washington was important in Paramaribo, in Durban, in Kampuchea. Nothing was more important. Well, things have changed. Now we know that what happens in Santiago, in Tehran, in Peking is terribly important in New York and Washington. Nothing is more important.”
Fletch said: “Wow.”
“… The Third World, as it’s called, is no longer something out there—separate from us, inconsequential to us. Whether we like it or not, the world is becoming more sensitive. The world is becoming covered with a network of fine nerves—an electronic nervous system not unlike that which integrates our own bodies. Our finger hurts, our toe hurts and we feel it as much as if our head aches or our heart aches. Instantly now do we feel the pain in Montevideo, in Juddah, in Bandung. And yes, my friends in Winslow, we feel the pains from our own, internal third world—from Harlem, from Watts, from our reservations of Native Americans …”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1705-1713

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 2:19:01 PM

“… You and I know there is no theology, no ideology causing this new, sudden, total integration of the world. Christianity has had two thousand years to tie this world together … and it has not done so. Islam has had six hundred years to tie this world together … and it has not done so. American democracy has had two hundred years to tie this world together … and it has not done so. Communism has had nearly one hundred years to tie this world together… and it has not done so.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1718-1722

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 2:20:04 PM

“… You and I, my friends, know that technology is tying this world together, is integrating this world in a way no theology, no ideology ever could. Technology is forming a nervous system beneath the skin of Mother Earth. And you and I know that to avoid the pain, the body politic had better start responding to this nervous system immediately! If we ignore that which hurts in any part of this body earth, we shall suffer years more, generations more of the pain and misery of spreading disease. If we knowingly allow wounds to fester in any particular place, the strength, the energies of the whole world will be sapped!”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1742-1746

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 2:23:02 PM

At the edge of the platform, The Man Who shook hands with the congressperson as if he had never seen her before, keeping his arm long, making it seem, for the public, for the photographers, he was greeting just another well-wisher.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1755-1757

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 2:31:09 PM

Your Bookmark on Location 1766

Added on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 2:32:14 PM

“What did the governor say?” Kirchner asked.
“Well,” Fletch said, “roughly he said the world is getting it together despite man’s best ideas.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1831-1833

Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 12:34:30 AM

“Part of the process of a political campaign is to go around the country listening to people. At least, a good politician listens. You said something this morning that struck me as eminently sensible. Something probably everybody knows is true, but no one has yet said. Probably only the young have grown up with this new reality in their guts, really knowing it to be true.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 1862-1864

Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 12:36:52 AM

“There’s a difference between ideas and facts,” the governor said. “The people of the world will be better served with a few facts.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2003-2005

Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 4:15:48 PM

Your Bookmark on Location 1991

Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:01:08 PM

The governor narrowed his eyes. “Is it crap?”
Doris Wheeler’s voice became that of a reasonable lecturer. “Caxton, you know damned well the farmers and merchants of Winslow, of the U.S.A., do not want to hear about the Third World. They want to hear about their taxes, their health programs, their Social Security, their defense, their crop subsidies. The voter is a totally selfish animal! Every time the voter hears the name of a foreign country, he thinks it’s going to cost him money.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2023-2027

Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:08:02 PM

“Used to hear you through the wall in Virginia. Key of C in the morning, F at night.”
“I take a cold shower in the morning.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2100-2102

Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:19:55 PM

“Get the space, baby. Get the network time and the newspaper space. Builds familiarity. Recognition of the candidate, you know? What the candidate is actually saying or doing is of secondary importance, you know?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2146-2148

Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:23:45 PM

statesmanship has no place on a political campaign. A campaign is punch and duck, punch and duck. Fast footwork, you know? Always smiling. The voters want to see fast action. Their attention won’t hold for anything more.
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Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:27:10 PM

“Longer than that, I. M., longer than that. Something ol’ Vic taught me, and it’s always proved to be true: statesmanship has no place on a political campaign. A campaign is punch and duck, punch and duck. Fast footwork, you know? Always smiling. The voters want to see fast action. Their attention won’t hold for anything more. From day to day, give ’em happy film, and short, reassuring statements. If you really try to say anything, really ask them to stop and think, they’ll hate you for it. They can’t think, you know? Being asked makes us feel inferior. We don’t like to feel inferior to our candidates. Against the democratic ideal, you know? The candidate’s just got to keep giving the impression he’s a man of the people—no better than they are, just doin’ a different job. No one is ever elected in this country on the basis of what he really thinks. The candidate is elected on the basis of thousands of different, comfortable small impressions, not one of which really asks the voters to think.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2158-2166

Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:28:31 PM

Eulogies to a relationship never need encouragement from the listener.
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Fantastic aphorism

Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:30:11 PM

“Wow, a presidential campaign. What’s it like, Fletch?”
“Unreal, man. Totally unreal.”
“I believe you. On television you were wearing a coat and tie.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2264-2267

Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:36:02 PM

“I’m doin’ my best, Mr. Persecutor. It’s like trying to put out a fire in a circus tent, you know? I can’t get anybody to admit there is a fire.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2302-2303

Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:38:44 PM

“Sent any woe-begones to jail lately?”
“Two yesterday. No outstanding warrants on you, though. I check first thing every morning.”
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Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:41:16 PM

“California can always use a few more people who wear suits.”
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Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:41:30 PM

“Simple enough deal,” Fletch said. “Tit for tat.”
“Tits for that,” Judy said.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2410-2411

Added on Thursday, November 24, 2016 8:49:38 PM

There are some old books in the cabin—Ellery Queen, S.S. van Dyne. He reads them sometimes, in bed.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2517-2517

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 2:43:29 AM

“Why shouldn’t I help them out?” Flash Grasselli asked reasonably. “I’m bigger than they are.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2556-2557

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 2:46:51 AM

Abruptly Walsh sat up in his chair. “You’re always making jokes. Is that how you escape?”
Slowly, carefully, Fletch said, “No. That’s why the chicken crossed the road.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2703-2704

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 2:58:20 AM

“As sure as God made anchovies.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2711-2711

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 2:59:21 AM

“I take from the unhealthiest doctor I could find. He’s a wreck. Fat as the federal budget. He smokes like a public utility; drinks as if he has as many different mouths as a White House source. When he breathes, you’d think someone is running a caucus in his chest. Thought he’d be easy on me. Tolerant. Relaxed. Not a bit of it. Still he gives me that old saw, ‘Don’t do as I do; do as I say.’ I guess I should. Already he’s invested in a burial plot, he tells me. And he’s only thirty-two.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2868-2872

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 3:10:08 AM

Campaigns at first need idealism and youth. Once the primaries are won, cynicism takes over and idealism gets a bus ticket home. You don’t mind being used?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2909-2910

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 3:14:29 AM

“You look like your heart just sat down and took off its shoes.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2947-2947

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 3:17:32 AM

Your Bookmark on Location 2998

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 3:22:48 AM

“I’m talking about the gathering and dissemination of information,” the governor said, “instead of weapons.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3004-3005

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 12:57:58 PM

Fletch had been in funeral processions that went faster.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2989-2989

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 1:00:02 PM

“Through this technology, the people of this earth are beginning to recognize each other, know each other, and realize their commonality of interest.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 2993-2994

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 1:03:51 PM

Lansing Sayer wasn’t getting much into his notebook.
“Am I wrong to think that most of the bad things that happen on this earth happen because people don’t have the right facts at the right time? It’s all very well to believe something. You can go cheering to war over what you believe. You can starve to death happily over what you believe. But would wars ever happen if everybody had the same facts? There is no factual basis for starvation on this earth,” Governor Caxton Wheeler said softly. “Not yet, there isn’t.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3012-3016

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 1:12:03 PM

“Facts are facts,” said The Man Who. “I’m not talking about faith, belief, opinions. I’m talking about facts. How come most children in this world know Pele’s every move playing soccer, know every line of Muhammad Ali’s face, and yet this same technology has not been used to teach them the history of their own people, or how to read and write their own language? How come a bank in London can know, up to the minute, how much money a bank in New York has, to the penny, but a kid in Liverpool who just had his teeth bashed out doesn’t know three thousand years ago a Greek analyzed gang warfare accurately? How come the governments of this world know where every thermonuclear missile is, on land, under land, on sea, under sea, and yet this technology has never been used for the proper allocation of food? Is that a dumb question?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3018-3024

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 1:14:56 PM

Anyone who thinks he’s absolutely right is capable of anything, including murder.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3097-3098

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 1:55:45 PM

“So this is how you live.” Freddie looked around his hotel room. “Your suitcase is dark brown. Mine is light blue.”
“Yeah,” Fletch said. “That’s the difference between boys and girls.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3161-3163

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 2:03:34 PM

“Got to make clothes last on a trip like this.”
“I never wear that jacket.”
“Then why do you carry it?”
“That’s the jacket I carry.” He pointed to one on the unmade bed. “That’s the jacket I wear.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3190-3193

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 2:06:12 PM

“Relationships between men and women can be nice. I guess.” He watched her from the chair where he was sitting. “Can’t say you never had one, Freddie.”
“I live out of a suitcase, Fletcher. All the time. Anything that doesn’t fit in the suitcase can’t come with me.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3202-3205

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 2:07:24 PM

“Next to Solov, Maxim Gorky would seem a fun date.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3293-3293

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 2:14:13 PM

“Guess you got to take that chance, jackass. If I can’t print something that looks like answers, I’m going to print something that looks like questions.”
“Oh, I see,” Fletch said brilliantly. “That’s why people refer to what you write as questionable. ’Bye, Mike.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3328-3331

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 2:17:07 PM

Your Bookmark on Location 3333

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 2:18:05 PM

“Young people always think it’s clever to disparage our institutions.”
“It’s not?”
“Politically, it’s suicide. As I said last night. You can knock the institutions on their goddamned asses,” her voice grated, “as long as you always give them lip service. That’s the only reality.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3426-3429

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 3:23:19 PM

“I wouldn’t vote for your husband for dogcatcher!” the driver shouted. “He doesn’t know a bitch when he sees one!”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3472-3473

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 3:29:59 PM

The wind, the sound of traffic in the parking lot, the noise of jet airplanes passing overhead made the governor look like a frantic, laryngytic opera singer.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3492-3493

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 3:31:58 PM

to draw up a sort of international constitution guaranteeing that no one—no nation, no political party, no group—gets to control too large a share of the new technology.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3753-3755

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 4:21:02 PM

Bushwa
Highlight (orange) – Location 3808-3808
Mcdonald has used this at least once before in another Fletch book

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 4:28:09 PM

Buy him a one-way ticket to Tashkent.
Highlight (yellow) – Location 3936-3936

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 7:24:10 PM

Cason’s
Highlight (gray) – Location 3957-3957
Was this meant to be Caxton’s?

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 7:25:34 PM

“Yeah,” Fletch said to Freddie Arbuthnot in the airport terminal. “I lost my job again.”
“You’re good at that.”
“I think it’s what I do best.”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 4330-4333

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 8:02:31 PM

“Gee, Freddie.” He took the tickets away from her and shoved them into his own pocket. “Why do you want to make a mystery out of everything?”
Highlight (yellow) – Location 4391-4392

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 8:11:08 PM

Your Bookmark on Location 4448
Finished with book

Added on Friday, November 25, 2016 8:11:22 PM

Guide to highlight colors

Yellow–general highlights and highlights which don’t fit under another category below
Orange–Vocabulary word; interesting and/or rare word
Green–Reference to read
Blue–Interesting Quote
Gray–Typography Problem
Red–Example to work through

References

[1]
Gelett Burgess , “The Purple Cow,” Academy of American Poets, 06-May-2005. [Online]. Available: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/purple-cow. [Accessed: 26-Nov-2016]

Book Review: Fletch and the Man Who by Gregory Mcdonald was originally published on Chris Aldrich | Boffo Socko

A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond

The beginning of the book felt like an uphill battle to read. Perhaps it was too much set up and not enough character? The character shines through more brightly later on in the stories toward the end. The opening was also a lot more initial set up and seemed to be a beginning of a larger plot which didn’t turn into anything while the final chapters were more or less stand-alone vignettes with their own internal mini three act structures. I think I preferred these smaller self-standing stories to the beginning. In form and structure, the book was more like a collection of short stories about Paddington than it was a novel with its own three act structure, which is what I had expected. As a result of this, I’m surprised that Paddington was made into a movie instead of a television show.

Paddington gets himself into the same types of trouble a typical 3-6 year old would in not understanding the culture, mores, and standards around him. In this sense the book falls into a category similar to Amelia Bedelia, who perennially doesn’t understand colloquialisms and other homophones. The difference is that, because he’s a cuddlier small bear, he’s cuter and thereby one is prone to be more forgiving than they would be of a child or of a grown woman who’s so dense that she apparently doesn’t have any linguistic intelligence at all.

Because Paddington is a bear and not a young child, the family also allows him to do things by himself that no sane parent would allow a young child to do: go to the market by themselves, wander around in a crowded theater unattended, float out into the ocean without a keen eye being kept on them. It’s this slight change which allows our young bear to get into far more trouble than a human youngster might.

Toward the end, I began to read using rapid serial visual presentation (with Spritz), and the language and quirks came through just as well as any other parts of the book. I did find myself picking up my Kindle Paperwhite to highlight a few choice passages and funny parts for later reflection though. There was a nice prologue with some interesting observations by the author several decades after he wrote the original. With a bit of thought, some of these make great advice for budding authors.

In sum, an entertaining an charming book whose self-contained chapters lend themselves well to bedtime stories.

Reading Progress
  • 05/27/16 marked as: want to read; “I’d watched the recent film version during the late Spring and thought I’d circle back around and read this again to see how closely the film followed the story. I haven’t read it since I was a child in maybe 3rd or 4th grade.”
  • 09/06/16 started reading
  • 09/08/16 ??.0% done;
  • 10/01/16 18.0% done;
  • 10/02/16 22.0% done;
  • 10/26/16 33.0% done; “The plot moves somewhat slowly and the action is mostly what one would expect from a 5 or 6 year old–except that it’s a bear–but the charming language and the way in which is told makes all the difference. Bacon in a suitcase–indeed!”
  • 10/28/16 47.0% done;
  • 10/30/16 70.0% done;
    Chapter 5: Paddington and the “Old Master”
    The pledge and the turn are reasonably well executed, but the prestige is lacking a bit.
    Chapter 6: A Visit to the Theater
    It’s episodes like this that make me wonder why they turned Paddington into a movie instead of a TV sitcom.”
  • 10/31/16 Finished book;
    Chapter Seven: Adventure at the Seaside
    The set up for this was short and sweet and the ending was what we’ve come to love in a Paddington story.
    Chapter Eight: A Disappearing Trick
    This is just hilariously charming. I do wish the uncivil neighbor had been better set up in a prior story, but the short treatment done here is sufficient for the hilarity that ensues with Paddington attempting a magic show.”

Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia

Chapter One: Please Look After This Bear
It said simply, PLEASE LOOK AFTER THIS BEAR. THANK YOU.
Highlight (yellow) on page 4 | Location 53-53 | Added on Tuesday, September 6, 2016 10:45:06 PM
“You can’t just sit in Paddington Station waiting for something to happen.”
Highlight (yellow) on page 4 | Location 51-51 | Added on Tuesday, September 6, 2016 10:45:15 PM
“How’s that to be going on with?”
Highlight (yellow) on page 6 | Location 91-92 | Added on Thursday, September 8, 2016 12:44:27 AM

“Things are always happening to me. I’m that sort of bear.”

Highlight (blue) on page 9 | Location 127-127 | Added on Thursday, September 8, 2016 12:48:39 AM
Chapter Two: A Bear in Hot Water

“That’s the trouble with being small—no one ever expects you to want things.”

Highlight (blue) on page 13 | Location 194-194 | Added on Tuesday, September 6, 2016 7:48:41 PM

– Your Bookmark on page 16 | Location 231 | Added on Tuesday, September 6, 2016 10:43:26 PM
if the water didn’t get much less, at least it didn’t get any more.
Highlight (yellow) on page 18 | Location 265-265 | Added on Saturday, October 1, 2016 7:35:31 PM
“If Mrs. Bird sees this, I don’t know what she’ll say.”
“I do,” exclaimed Jonathan. “She says it to me sometimes.”
Highlight (yellow) on page 19 | Location 290-291 | Added on Sunday, October 2, 2016 3:49:58 PM

– Your Bookmark on page 19 | Location 288 | Added on Sunday, October 2, 2016 3:50:49 PM

– Your Bookmark on page 25 | Location 369 | Added on Wednesday, October 26, 2016 8:14:38 PM
Chapter Three: Paddington Goes Underground
The man sniffed suspiciously and called across to an inspector. “There’s a young bear ’ere, smelling of bacon. Says he made a mistake at the bottom.”
Highlight (yellow) on page 26 | Location 387-388 | Added on Wednesday, October 26, 2016 11:33:23 PM
Chapter Four: A Shopping Expedition
Modom
Highlight (orange) on page 31 | Location 465-465 | Added on Friday, October 28, 2016 1:35:17 AM
Don’t see this word often in America, much less the Anglicization Madam or Madame
“I’ll have one for worst if you like,” he said. “That’s my best one!”
Highlight (yellow) on page 31 | Location 468-469 | Added on Friday, October 28, 2016 1:36:00 AM
Paddington trying to keep his old hat.
Paddington had a very persistent stare when he cared to use it. It was a very powerful stare. One which his Aunt Lucy had taught him and which he kept for special occasions.
Highlight (yellow) on page 32 | Location 478-480 | Added on Friday, October 28, 2016 1:37:21 AM
Bears were rather unpredictable. You never quite knew what they were thinking, and this one in particular seemed to have a mind of his own.
Highlight (yellow) on page 33 | Location 492-493 | Added on Friday, October 28, 2016 1:38:59 AM

– Your Bookmark on page 33 | Location 491 | Added on Friday, October 28, 2016 1:41:19 AM

– Your Bookmark on page 34 | Location 517 | Added on Friday, October 28, 2016 7:58:30 PM

“I think,” said Paddington, “if you don’t mind, I’d rather use the stairs.”
Highlight (yellow) on page 41 | Location 616-617 | Added on Saturday, October 29, 2016 2:23:45 PM

– Your Bookmark on page 41 | Location 618 | Added on Saturday, October 29, 2016 2:24:05 PM
Chapter Five: Paddington and the “Old Master”
“That bear gets more for his ten pence than anyone I know,” said Mrs. Bird. “I don’t know how he gets away with it, really I don’t. It must be the mean streak in him.”
“I’m not mean,” said Paddington indignantly. “I’m just careful, that’s all.”
Highlight (yellow) on page 41 | Location 627-629 | Added on Sunday, October 30, 2016 9:01:06 AM
“I don’t mind him just thinking,” said Mrs. Brown, with a worried expression on her face. “It’s when he actually thinks of something that the trouble starts.”
Highlight (blue) on page 45 | Location 679-680 | Added on Sunday, October 30, 2016 9:05:41 AM
Originally it had been a painting of a lake, with a blue sky and several sailing boats dotted around. Now it looked like a storm at sea. All the boats had gone, the sky was a funny shade of gray, and half the lake had disappeared.
Highlight (yellow) on page 45 | Location 690-692 | Added on Sunday, October 30, 2016 9:07:18 AM
Only Mrs. Bird had her suspicions when she found Paddington’s “spots” on his towel in the bathroom, but she kept her thoughts to herself.
Highlight (yellow) on page 48 | Location 722-723 | Added on Sunday, October 30, 2016 9:09:32 AM
“I think,” said Paddington to the world in general, “they might have stood it the right way up. It’s not every day a bear wins first prize in a painting competition!”
Highlight (yellow) on page 50 | Location 752-753 | Added on Sunday, October 30, 2016 9:12:52 AM
Chapter Six: A Visit to the Theater
But it’ll be an experience for him, and he does like experiences so.
Highlight (yellow) on page 50 | Location 767-767 | Added on Sunday, October 30, 2016 9:14:52 AM
Commissionaire
Highlight (orange) on page 51 | Location 772-772 | Added on Sunday, October 30, 2016 9:15:18 AM
Judy started to help him off with it.
“Mind my marmalade sandwich!” cried Paddington as she placed it on the ledge in front of him. But it was too late. He looked round guiltily.
“Crikey!” said Jonathan. “It’s fallen on someone’s head!” He looked over the edge of the box. “It’s that man with the bald head. He looks jolly cross.”
“Oh, Paddington!” Mrs. Brown looked despairingly at him. “Do you have to bring marmalade sandwiches to the theater?”
Highlight (yellow) on page 52 | Location 792-797 | Added on Sunday, October 30, 2016 9:18:24 AM

– Your Bookmark on page 60 | Location 916 | Added on Sunday, October 30, 2016 10:05:45 AM
Chapter Seven: Adventure at the Seaside
Paddington gave him a hard stare. “You said there was a bird,” he said. “And there wasn’t.”
“I expect it flew away when it saw your face,” said the man nastily. “Now, where’s my pound?” Paddington looked at him even harder for a moment. “Perhaps the bird took it when it flew away,” he said.
Highlight (yellow) on page 63 | Location 957-960 | Added on Monday, October 31, 2016 11:05:15 PM
The man looked serious. “And you say he can’t swim?” he asked.
“He doesn’t even like having a bath much,” said Judy. “So I’m sure he can’t swim.”
Highlight (yellow) on page 66 | Location 1011-1013 | Added on Monday, October 31, 2016 11:07:54 PM
The man looked at the picture. “We could send out a description,” he said dubiously. “But it’s a job to see what he looks like by that. It’s all hat and dark glasses.”
Highlight (yellow) on page 67 | Location 1015-1016 | Added on Monday, October 31, 2016 11:08:11 PM
This is hilarious thinking that people aren’t going to notice a small bear with such a costume amongst people.
“What’s going on at the pier, chum?”
Without stopping, the man looked back over his shoulder and shouted, “Chap just crossed the Atlantic all by ’isself on a raft. ’Undreds of days without food or water so they say!” He hurried on.
The lifesaving man looked disappointed. “Another of these publicity stunts,” he said. “We get ’em every year.”
Mr. Brown looked thoughtful. “I wonder,” he said, looking in the direction of the pier.
“It would be just like him,” said Mrs. Bird. “It’s the sort of thing that would happen to Paddington.”
Highlight (yellow) on page 68 | Location 1033-1038 | Added on Monday, October 31, 2016 11:12:23 PM
Chapter Eight: A Disappearing Trick
Paddington thought this was a good idea, especially when he was told that bears had two birthdays every year—one in the summer and one in the winter.
“Just like the Queen,” said Mrs. Bird. “So you ought to consider yourself very important.”
Highlight (yellow) on page 70 | Location 1072-1074 | Added on Monday, October 31, 2016 11:19:14 PM
“I shall have a lot of ‘thank-you’ letters to write.”
“Perhaps you’d better leave them until tomorrow,” said Mrs. Brown hastily. Whenever Paddington wrote any letters, he generally managed to get more ink on himself than on the paper, and he was looking so unusually smart, having had a bath the night before, that it seemed a pity to spoil it.
Highlight (yellow) on page 71 | Location 1082-1085 | Added on Monday, October 31, 2016 11:21:26 PM
“Well,” said Mr. Brown, “so long as you don’t try sawing anyone in half this evening, I don’t mind.”
“I was only joking,” he added hurriedly as Paddington turned an inquiring gaze on him.
Nevertheless, as soon as lunch was over, Mr. Brown hurried down the garden and locked up his tools. With Paddington there was no sense in taking chances.
Highlight (yellow) on page 73 | Location 1118-1121 | Added on Monday, October 31, 2016 11:26:30 PM
Mr. Curry had a reputation in the neighborhood for meanness and for poking his nose into other people’s business. He was also very bad tempered and was always complaining about the least little thing which met with his disapproval. In the past that had often included Paddington, which was why the Browns had not invited him to the party.
Highlight (yellow) on page 74 | Location 1127-1129 | Added on Monday, October 31, 2016 11:27:18 PM
“For this trick,” he said, “I shall require an egg.”
“Oh, dear,” said Mrs. Bird as she hurried out to the kitchen, “I know something dreadful is going to happen.”
Highlight (yellow) on page 75 | Location 1140-1141 | Added on Monday, October 31, 2016 11:30:10 PM
“For my next trick,” said Paddington, “I would like a watch.”
“Are you sure?” asked Mrs. Brown anxiously. “Wouldn’t anything else do?”
Paddington consulted his instruction book. “It says a watch,” he said firmly.
Mr. Brown hurriedly pulled his sleeve down over his left wrist. Unfortunately, Mr. Curry, who was in an unusually good mood after his free tea, stood up and offered his. Paddington took it gratefully and placed it on the table. “This is a jolly good trick,” he said, reaching down into his box and pulling out a small hammer.
Highlight (yellow) on page 76 | Location 1165-1169 | Added on Monday, October 31, 2016 11:33:51 PM
“You ought to be ashamed of yourself, telling lies in front of a young bear!”
Highlight (yellow) on page 77 | Location 1178-1178 | Added on Monday, October 31, 2016 11:34:23 PM
“You know, Henry,” said Mrs. Brown as they watched Paddington go up the stairs to bed, looking rather sticky and more than a little sleepy, “it’s nice having a bear about the house.”
Highlight (yellow) on page 79 | Location 1212-1213 | Added on Monday, October 31, 2016 11:35:48 PM
Postscript (by Michael Bond)
I realized I had a book on my hands. It hadn’t been written with any particular age group in mind, which was fortunate, because until then I had always written for adults, and if I had consciously aimed at a young audience I might have “written down,” which is a bad idea. Anyway, I agree with Gertrude Stein: a book is a book is a book, and it should be enjoyable on all levels.
Highlight (yellow) on page 80 | Location 1225-1227 | Added on Monday, October 31, 2016 11:36:38 PM
This is a brilliant bit of advice to writers of all stripes, but particularly children’s writers. Most of the best YA and children’s literature I’ve read didn’t pander down to their audience.
you never know quite what bears are thinking, and he was right. You feel you can trust them with your secrets and they won’t pass them on.
Highlight (yellow) on page 81 | Location 1229-1230 | Added on Monday, October 31, 2016 11:37:10 PM
This is an interesting insight into Paddington’s character and is somewhat similar to my comments above about what makes having a talking bear that seems somewhat common interesting in these stories rather than just a young child which would have made the stories very bland and unbelievable.
Another thing about bears is that one perceives them in the wild lumbering around on two legs, so they are already halfway to being human.
Highlight (yellow) on page 81 | Location 1230-1231 | Added on Monday, October 31, 2016 11:37:20 PM
Another bit which makes the stories slightly more plausible psychologically.
The first book in a series is always the most fun to write. The world is your oyster, and you can go wherever your fancy takes you. However, at the same time you build in certain parameters which are there for all time.
Highlight (yellow) on page 81 | Location 1231-1233 | Added on Monday, October 31, 2016 11:40:16 PM
Again great advice for writers, particularly those writing a multi-part series.
Paddington was, and always will be, very real to me. He has his feet firmly on the ground, and he has a very strong sense of right and wrong. So much so that when I come up against a problem in my own life, I often ask myself what he would do.
Highlight (yellow) on page 81 | Location 1240-1241 | Added on Monday, October 31, 2016 11:40:38 PM
WWPD?!
Each time I boarded a plane I knew it wouldn’t be long before he would be asked up to the flight deck. On one occasion I left him up there, strapped into a spare bucket seat while the crew explained the controls. A little later on, I received a second message asking if I would mind him staying up there because he wanted to practice landing the plane. I didn’t tell the other passengers!
Highlight (yellow) on page 82 | Location 1250-1253 | Added on Monday, October 31, 2016 11:41:38 PM
Guide to highlight colors

Yellow–general highlights and highlights which don’t fit under another category below
Orange–Vocabulary word; interesting and/or rare word
Green–Reference to read
Blue–Interesting Quote
Gray–Typography Problem
Red–Example to work through

    Syndicated to:

A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond was originally published on Chris Aldrich | Boffo Socko

Book review: Fletch by Gregory Mcdonald

Fletch by Gregory Mcdonald (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)

The book that started it all!

I’d originally read this sometime around 1988 after seeing the Warner Bros. feature film of the same name. It’s not quite as over-the-top as the comedy of the film and the humor is a little sharper and wrier.

For the most part, the plotline of the text is nearly identical to that of the film with a few exceptions mostly relating to names of characters and casting (warning: spoilers follow):

  • The Collins family has been renamed Boyd, likely so as not to run afoul of the name of author Joan Collins.
  • Fletch’s editors Clara and Frank are concatenated into the character of just Frank.
  • Fletch’s beach girlfriend Bobbi doesn’t exist in the film, likely to focus more on Joan.
  • Montgomery is a younger high-school aged student with more social ties than the Gummy of the film.
  • Stanwyk is not involved in the drug trade and his death at the hands of the Chief of Police is motivated by a different bit of plot. He also has an additional local paramour. His character and motivations are much better delineated in the book and several characters backing this up were missing from the film.
  • Much of the shennanigans of the film was added there and didn’t exist in the book, though almost all of the motivating comedy and sense of humor is surely there.
  • Large chunks of dialogue from the film are drawn almost directly from the book.
  • The film is obviously a bit more cinematic and kinetic with Fletch doing much more movement, travel, and even chase scenes to make things in the film move along, while the book is a bit more balanced and even realistic.

Certainly there are many other differences, but this covers the broadest spectrum.

In this motivating text for the remainder of the series, Fletch is drawn as a very clear-cut and incredibly interesting character with a fantastic sense of morality and humor. Of the parts of the series I’ve read thus far, this is definitely one of my favorites, second only perhaps to Confess, Fletch.

Here the cat-and-mouse-game between Fletch and Joan is better delineated and the relationship between Fletch and Stanwyk’s father is quirkier and more interesting.

If you enjoyed the movie (and even if you didn’t), you’re sure to appreciate this as fiction, particularly with Mcdonald’s ability to paint a picture with words and write story through character.

A brief note on the physical text

This is assuredly an optical character recognition scanned version of the original text. There are a dozen or so obvious typos that didn’t get fixed. There are more than several places where a temporal change in the plot occurs, but the additional line returns that were originally included to indicate the break are now missing. This can make reading portion a bit annoying. The quality control of the typesetting of the e-book text could certainly have been much better.

Reading Progress
  • 08/7/16 marked as: want to read; “The Rio Olympics reminded me that I’d gotten Carioca Fletch to read back in the 80’s and never got around to it, so I thought I’d come back and revisit the series.”
  • 09/16/16 marked as: currently reading
  • 09/19/16 27.0% “So far this is maybe even better than I remember it.”
  • 09/20/16 68.0% “This just keeps getting better. I’m enjoying some of the subtle differences between the film and the book. No surprise that the movie renamed Joan Collins to Boyd. I know I’d read this 20+ years ago and I remember it being darker than the film, but the tone seems lighter to me now somehow.”
  • 09/22/16 100.0% “A slightly different ending than one in the film, but still nicely tied together… Possibly my second favorite in the series so far.”
Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia
Chapter 1

“What’s your name?”
“Fletch.”
“What’s your full name?”
“Fletcher.”
“What’s your first name?”
“Irwin.”
“What?”
“Irwin. Irwin Fletcher. People call me Fletch.”
“Irwin Fletcher, I have a proposition to make to you. I will give you a thousand dollars for just listening to it. If you decide to reject the proposition, you take the thousand dollars, go away, and never tell anyone we talked. Fair enough?”
“Is it criminal? I mean, what you want me to do?”
“Of course.”
“Fair enough. For a thousand bucks I can listen. What do you want me to do?”
“I want you to murder me.”

—Page 1 · Location 37 This is the first exchange of the book and a really great opening

The license plate of the car was 440-001.

—Page 3 · Location 68

The paintings in the room were not particularly good, in Fletch’s opinion, but they were real.

—Page 4 · Location 92

“I’m a fairly reliable-looking drifter.”

—Page 5 · Location 106

Chapter 2

“Bye, Clara. Nice talking with you. Don’t get any crumbs in Frank’s bed.”
“Prick.”

—Page 9 · Location 180

“Wise ass. What if some ladies were around?”
“There are no ladies in California.”

—Page 10 · Location 193

“Dishonest of me, I know. “But as Pappy used to say about violating virgins, ‘Son, if you’re not the first, someone else will be.’ ”

—Page 12 · Location 231

Chapter 3

“My extension is 705. Many thanks.”
“Christ.”
“No. I.M. Fletcher.”

—Page 13 · Location 264 Like the man says: ‘I’m’ Fletcher, not Christ.

“Vicious and violent. Bullshit. One night I stepped on the cat’s tail.”
“You pitched the cat through the window of your seventh-floor apartment.”
“The whole place smelled of cat.”

—Page 15 · Location 297 

“There you are, Mr. Gillett. Thanks for stopping by. I’m sorry we’re not on the seventh floor.”

—Page 16 · Location 313 Fletch had just mentioned throwing a cat out of the window of a 7th floor apartment.

Before leaving, Gillett tried to look haughty, but only succeeded in looking as if he were in the early stages of a sneeze.

—Page 17 · Location 324

Chapter 4

Marvin and Helen Stanwyk, Nonheagan, Pennsylvania.

—Page 24 · Location 458

You just fired someone.”
“As a matter of fact, I just did.”
“Who?”
“A kid in the city room. He had been calling people up and asking them stupid questions, saying he was someone from the Associated Press.”
“Really? How awful! I always tell people I’m from the Chronicle-Gazette, myself.”

—Page 26 · Location 487

“Fletcher, we have to talk.”
“Are you up to it?”
“That’s why I thought we should have lunch. In the cafeteria. Put your shoes on.”
“You’re not taking me out?”
“I wouldn’t be seen in public with you. Even a drugstore lunch counter wouldn’t let us in, the way you dress.”

—Page 27 · Location 495

“See you upstairs. Put your shoes on.”

—Page 27 · Location 503

Chapter 5

Clara Snow had ordered an uncut bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich on toast. When she bit into it the two edges of toast nearer Fletch gaped as if about to bite him.

—Page 27 · Location 504

“I don’t resent women. I rather like women.”
“You haven’t had much luck with them.”
“My only mistake is that I keep marrying them.”

—Page 28 · Location 512

He chewed his calves’ liver open-mouthed.
“Such principle,” she said, sucking Coke from a straw.
“You can’t tell me you haven’t made every strung-out little girl on the beach.”
“That’s different. That’s for a story. I will do anything for a story. That’s why I put penicillin on my expense account.”
“You do?”
“Under Telephones’.”

—Page 28 · Location 519

“If there is no one to complain for a kid, the law don’t give a shit.”
“Fletcher’s Rule.”

—Page 30 · Location 548

Chapter 7

“A dowdy old thing. She always reminds me of an Eskimo full of baked beans. I mean, she looks as if, if she ever got unfrozen, she would evaporate in one enormous fart.”

—Page 41 · Location 748

Your style is exactly what Beau Brummel did in his time. All Brummel did, you know, was to bring the lean, simple country style into the city.”

—Page 41 · Location 754

henna

—Page 41 · Location 763 An interesting use of the word from the 70’s. I don’t think I’ve seen it again until the early 2000s otherwise, and then in reference to tattoos.

Chapter 9

His apartment was on the seventh floor of a building that had everything but design. His apartment— a living room, a bedroom, bath and kitchenette— was impeccably neat. On the wall over the divan was a blow-up of a multiple cartes-de-visite by Andre Adolphe Eugene Disderi.

—Page 53 · Location 973

Chapter 10

In an ell of the room,

—Page 57 · Location 1035

Chapter 11

“I used to be a pretty good house burglar myself,” Creasey said. “I even had equipment.”
“What happened?”
“I got ripped off. Some bastard stole my burglary equipment. The bastard.”
“That’s funny.”
“A fuckin’ riot.”
“You should have had business insurance.”

—Page 63 · Location 1153

Chapter 12

Utrelamensky. John Utrelamensky.”

—Page 69 · Location 1268 One of Fletch’s pseudonyms

Chapter 15

hibachi.

—Page 87 · Location 1585 What a fun word, and somehow so culturally 1970s 

“John Zalumarinero,” Fletch said.

—Page 87 · Location 1587  One of Fletch’s pseudonyms

He knows less about cows than I do, and all I know is that a cow is square with legs sticking out at the corners.

—Page 92 · Location 1687

“Sorry I didn’t get to meet their daughter, Julie.”
“Little brat.”
“Little brat?”
“Jesus, I wish she had a sister so I could beat one of them to death with the other one. Have another drink?”

—Page 93 · Location 1693

Chapter 16

Some of these people had been hanging fire two or three days.

—Page 99 · Location 1808 What a great phrase for people with no drugs.

Chapter 18

Sitting on the divan under the Disderi, he ate two delicatessen sandwiches and drank a bottle of milk. On the coffee table in front of him was the big tape recorder. On the wall across from him was a copy of William James’s Cherry Beach. After he had finished his sandwiches and milk, he went into the bedroom and lay on the bed. Facing him was a copy of Fredric Weiss’s 1968 photograph of a boy apparently walking in midair beneath two roofs, Boy Jumping.

—Page 101 · Location 1832

“Jim Swarthout speaking.”
“Hi, Jim. This is Bill Carmichael.”

—Page 101 · Location 1840  Another of Fletch’s psuedonyms

Chapter 19

“I’ve got a lot of painin’ to do. To make up for what I did.”

—Page 112 · Location 2030 Painin’ is such a great word here. (Presuming it’s not a typo from OCR…)

Chapter 20

Fletch wanted to open the window, but the window jack handles had been removed. The police were probably afraid someone would try to commit suicide by bopping himself on the nose with one.

—Page 115 · Location 2085

Chapter 25

But again, she was educated and experienced without the flash that makes champions. And she was without the playful joy of the beginner.

—Page 142 · Location 2570 This description was used to describe both Joan’s tennis ability and then a few pages later her ability in bed.

“Zamanawinkeraleski.”
“God, what a moniker. Zamanawink— say it again?”
“— eraleski. Zamanawinkeraleski.”
“You mean someone actually married you with a name like that?”
“Yup. And now there are three little Zamanawinkeraleskis.”
“What was her maiden name? I mean, your wife’s?”
“Fletcher.”
“That’s a nice name. Why would she give up a nice name like that to become a Zamabangi or whatever it is?”
“Zamanawinkeraleski. It’s more distinguished than Fletcher.”
“It’s so distinguished no one can say it. What is it, Polish?”
“Rumanian.”
“I didn’t know there was a difference.”
“Only Poles and Rumanians care about the difference.”
“What is the difference?”
“Between Poles and Rumanians? They make love differently.”
“Oh?”
“Twice I’ve made love Polish style. Now I’ll show you how a Rumanian would do it.”
“Polish style was all right.”
“But you haven’t seen the Rumanian style yet.”
“Why didn’t you make love Rumanian style in the first place?”
“I didn’t think you were ready for it.”
“I’m ready for it.”
It was eight-thirty.
In forty-eight hours Fletch was scheduled to murder her husband.

—Page 144 · Location 2605 Another of Fletch’s pseudonyms sparking an interesting passage.

Chapter 26

“Charles Witherspoon.”

—Page 147 · Location 2644  Fat Sam’s original name.

Chapter 28

“Oh, I forgot: you’re a pulse-taker. When I was home for lunch, Mrs. Stanwyk was still ticking over nicely. The older models are the best, you know. Better built, and they use less fuel.”

—Page 162 · Location 2916

If I remember rightly, girls have a couple of legs under them, a hank o’ hair up top, and a couple of protuberances about grab height. That about right?”

—Page 162 · Location 2921 Marvyn Stanwyk’s definition of girls.

“What I mean is, did you mean girls, or girl?”
“I’m in the hardware business, son. I’m apt to speak in gross lots.”

—Page 162 · Location 2923

She insisted it happened only once, but as Mother Goose said, once is enough.

—Page 164 · Location 2953

Chapter 29

R. Sanders Fletcher

—Page 168 · Location 3030 The pseudonym Fletch uses at the Newspaper

All I ever won in the marines was a disease coffee doesn’t cure.”
“Do you still have it?”
“No. I lost it on a toilet seat.”
“At City Hall, I hope.”
“Probably. I thought you picked up the Bronze Star years ago.”

—Page 176 · Location 3164

Chapter 30

Prowling the room, watching her, Fletch had the sudden, irrational desire to marry Joan Collins Stanwyk.

—Page 180 · Location 3232

“How very interesting. You go to that much effort for one paragraph?”
“You should see the efforts I go to sometimes for paragraphs I don’t even wite.”

—Page 181 · Location 3246

Chapter 31

“The thing that tipped me off was something your wife said the other night when we were in bed together.”

—Page 187 · Location 3358 A great quote that made it directly into the film.

Chapter 32

“Helluva story this morning, Mr. Fletcher.”
“Thanks for reading the News-Tribune.

—Page 192 · Location 3434

fp

—Page 192 · Location 3444 A nice bit of newspaper terminology

Typos

—Page 32 · Location 601 Should be ‘I’ instead of ‘You’.

—Page 68 · Location 1244 There should be a text break above this.

“The Nonheagan Inn. Good afternoon.”

—Page 85 · Location 1566 Text break before this.

“Swarthout Nevada Realty Company.”

—Page 86 · Location 1575 Should have text break before this.

“Where’s Gummy?”

—Page 111 · Location 2009 Should be a text break before this.

—Page 141 · Location 2540 Typo: should be “Your”.

—Page 151 · Location 2728 “it” instead of I (typo)

At six o’clock

—Page 183 · Location 3289 text break before this

—Page 192 · Location 3444 typo: should be “l”

“Anytime you’re ready, Mr. Fletcher.”

—Page 195 · Location 3494 text break before

Book review: Fletch by Gregory Mcdonald was originally published on Chris Aldrich | Boffo Socko

Book review: Carioca Fletch by Gregory Mcdonald

Carioca Fletch by Gregory Mcdonald (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)

Following a few months after the original book Fletch, Carioca Fletch begins with a jolt of plot as an old woman from one of the favelas of Rio de Janeiro identifies Fletch as the reincarnation of her long dead husband and wants to know who murdered him 47 years ago. Everyone apparently believes her wholeheartedly and there’s nothing Fletch can do but go along with what might be an elaborate joke. Nearly simultaneously Fletch runs across a widow who he says will think he killed her husband! And so the mystery begins???

Mcdonald does an excellent job of introducing the reader to a particular flavor of Brazilian culture which presages the pace of the plot. As a reader I felt nearly as frustrated with the pace of life and the style of culture (which heavily parallels the plot) as Fletch must have in his own evolving situation. This treatment makes me identify with I.M. much more closely than I might have otherwise, so kudos to Mcdonald for that.

As it turns out the woman Fletch initially dodges because he says she’ll think he killed her husband is Joan Stanwyk. She’s had him tracked down so that she can confront him about her husband’s death as well as a large amount of money that has gone missing. Seemingly only minutes later, Joan disappears just before Carnival and there isn’t much Fletch can do to find her. I had hoped for more mystery on this front, but the solution is wrapped up in a few scant pages right at the end.

Travelogue

There’s some great description and depiction of the Brazilian culture and the piece feels like a reasonable travelogue in some sense. Sadly it means it’s a bit thin on plot. Things start off with a nice bang, but then plod along for most of the book before things begin to pick up again in the last quarter of the book. There was so much more that Mcdonald could have done with the plot. Joan Stanwyk tracking down Fletch for a confrontation, Fletch and the Tap Dancers disposing of a friend’s body in a scene that presaged the entire plot of the film Weekend at Bernie’s (1989), the detective portion relating to who killed Junio all those years ago… Instead Mcdonald seemingly lets all the plot points work themselves out without any real work from our protagonist who just floats along through the culture. However, I will give him huge points from an artistic standpoint as he’s done a great job instilling a particular pace and cultural way of life into the text in such a manner that it really seems natural and satisfying that things work out the way they do.

Wrap up

Yet, in the end ultimately I’m conflicted as I’d have preferred more Fletchness, but I find it to have been enjoyable–at least it was better than Fletch, Too which still sits poorly with me.

I am left a bit adrift at the end with respect to the Tap Dancers who were so pivotal to most of the plot. What happened to the promised trip back to the brothel? Somehow they just seem to drift out of the plot.

Why wasn’t there better development of a romantic interest?

I don’t recall if this or something else set things in motion from a cultural standpoint, but as I recall the mid-80s, this would have ridden at the forefront of the zeitgeist of Brazillian culture in North America with several other books, television shows, and even movies which featured Brazil and even capoeira at the time.

Reading Progress
  • 8/7/16 marked as: want to read; “The Rio Olympics reminded me that I’d gotten Carioca Fletch to read back in the 80’s and never got around to it, so I thought I’d come back and revisit the series.”
  • 09/05/16 marked as: currently reading
  • 09/05/16 14.0% “An interesting start with a nice dash of the cultural part of what it means to be a Brazilian to set the stage of what is to come in the book. The reader is nicely made to feel the cultural clash of American and Brazilian along with the frustration Fletch surely feels.”
  • 09/09/16 34.0%
  • 09/10/16 61.0% “The plot seems to have slowed down significantly since the opening, but is just finally getting moving again.”
  • 9/13/16 71%
  • 09/16/16 100%
Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia

“You have not heard of queima de arquivo?”

“It means ‘burn the record’” Marilia said.
“It means ‘cover up,’” Laura said. “It is the Brazilian way of life. That is why we are so free.”

—Loc 65 & 68: One of the motivating concepts within the book and an interesting life philosophy. There are dozens of appearances of the word burn throughout the book.

“Half your diet should be carbohydrates.”
“You’re reading about diets?”

—Loc 266: I find it interesting that this discussion predates some serious anti-carb literature that appears in the culture about a decade or more hence.

“Anyone can make up a story and say it is the past.”

—Loc 234

“Have you ever been paralysed?”
Toninho’s big brow eyes swelled. “I have the wisdom to know that one day I will be.”

—Loc 462: An interesting life philosophy

“É preciso terno?”
Such was a tourist joke. In Brazil a suit was never necessary.

—Loc 808

Fletch gathered in the stern line. “Not in the S.S. Coitus Interruptus.”

—Loc 1300

Colombo, a sparkling clean tearoom noted for its great pastry

—Loc 1958: Who can resist a pastry reference?

The sound is overpowering. It is perhaps the maximum sound the earth and sky can accept without cracking, without breaking into fragments to move with it before dissipating into dust.

—Loc 2287: Mcdonald does a really good job describing the music of Brazil throughout. I particularly liked this passage.

…cheering on the biggest and most amazing human spectacle in the world except war.

—Loc 2426: a nice description of Carnival; apparently one so apt that he uses it multiple times.

Then he remembered his other ear had slipped into the personality of a tomato.

—Loc 2560: great description of an ear after a brutal fight

“Fletch, you always seem to be someplace you’re not supposed to be, doing something you’re not supposed to be doing.”
“Got any other news for me?”

—Loc 2684: Quintessential Fletch description and rejoinder

Fletch had come back to life. He was in a closed coffin.

—Loc 2939: A great pair of sentences just by themselves, but they also have a nice parallelism to where Fletch is within relation to the plot at the time.

(a waitress to Fletch) “Have an accident?”
“No, thanks. Just had one.”

—Loc 2979: Witty dialogue

“I was worried about you. I’ve been stood up for dinner before, often, but seldom for breakfast.”
“Not very nice of me.”
“It’s okay. I had breakfast anyway.”

—Loc 2986: Witty dialogue

“I mean, everyone needs a vacation from life. Don’t you agree?”
“A vacation from reality.”

—Loc 3068

“She fell out of her cradle. She’s enjoying a few moments crawling around the floor.”

—Loc 3097: great description of a grown woman

“I learned some things.”
“I’d love to know what.”
“Oh, that the past asserts itself. That the dead can walk.” Fletch thought of the small carved stone frog that had been under his bed. “That the absence of symbols can mean as much as their presence.”

—Loc 3100

Edgar Arthur Tharp, Junior

—Loc 3106: Fletch indicates that this artist will be part of his future purpose; The name reappears in Confess, Fletch as a tangential part of the plot.

Intersting words
  • scudding
  • the sails luffed
  • sibilant
  • calunga doll
  • bateria of drums
  • maté

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Book review: Carioca Fletch by Gregory Mcdonald was originally published on Chris Aldrich | Boffo Socko

Book Review: Confess, Fletch by Gregory Mcdonald

Confess, Fletch by Gregory Mcdonald (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)

I had originally meant to read all the Fletch canon in chronological order from the perspective of the stories’ timeline. Unfortunately the immediate availability of the books threw a small curve into the process, so I’ve read this slightly out of order. Doing so has thrown me as I’ve been under the assumption that Fletch was generally a journalist working for the same Los Angeles paper the entire time.

The Order I’ve read the series in so far

Fletch Won #1
Fletch and the Widow Bradley #3
Fletch, Too #2
Confess Fletch #6
Carioca Fletch #5

At the opening of this he’s going by the name of Peter Fletcher which was quirky, even knowing how much I.M. dislikes his given names, and he seemed to have a far more Italian flair and a rich man’s flâneur attitude toward life compared with his previous character. Gone was the ne’er-do-well under employed hero and in his place was a well-to-do more suave man. What was I missing/forgetting from the intervening books? It wasn’t until about halfway through the book that the Fletch character I’ve come to enjoy popped out of the woodwork as himself.

In stark contrast to the almost no plot line of Fletch, Too, which I found disappointing, this one starts off like a shot. The opening scene of the story starts out with Fletch in an apartment swap and calling the police to report a body of a dead woman in the flat which he’s staying for the next few weeks.

“This is the Police Business phone.”
“Isn’t murder police business?”
“You’re supposed to call Emergency with a murder.”
“I think the emergency is over.”
“I mean, I don’t even have a tape recorder on this phone.”
“So talk to your boss. Make a recommendation.”

The following morning he’s on the hunt for the missing art collection of an Italian nobleman who’s been kidnapped and presumed dead.

What follows is a nicely developed set of A and B plot lines that rival even those of the original Fletch. (N.B. I’ve still yet to reread the original, so it’s been over 25 years that I’m making this comparison.) The characters are great and the dialogue as witty and snarky as ever. This is Fletch as it was meant to be. Reading this after Fletch, Too brings my faith back for Mcdonald’s work.

I just hope the rest are just this good.

The added benefit is that apparently Mcdonald spun off the Frances Xavier Flynn character from this work into another series, and he’s a sufficiently complex and interesting enough character that I’m glad the Fletch odyssey isn’t really over once I’m done with these eleven.

From a time period perspective, I’ll again note, as I did for Fletch and the Widow Bradley, that this book (written in 1976) had some very progressive views about gay/homosexual lifestyle that I wouldn’t have expected.

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Book Review: Confess, Fletch by Gregory Mcdonald was originally published on Chris Aldrich | Boffo Socko