The SFFaudio Podcast #605 – READALONG: A Bullet For Cinderella by John D. MacDonald

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #605 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Maissa Bessada, Will Emmons, and Cat Russell talk about A Bullet For Cinderella by John D. MacDonald

Talked about on today’s show:
1955, On The Make, The Girl The Gold Watch And Everything, broken up, Jesse’s back, hardboiled, adventure fantasy, the writing style, the throughline, parallax, Cape Fear, parallels or similarities, a sinister similar story, Deniro, the melodrama, Fitzmartin, a cunning plan, very apocalypse world, the back and forth, before he killed him, you’ve got a character and he wants one thing, he likes killing people, when Tal comes blundering in, one lead or a whole bunch of leads, everytime he goes and talks to somebody, Ruth’s dad, hangin out with losers, one of the dogs died, some blind lady, grade 8 English teacher, organize her photographs, David Mamet, deliberately misunderstanding, we don’t know what he wants and neither does he, the $60,000, find this money, Paul’s only lead, It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), I hate my job, he knew himself better, the three male characters in that Korean War POW camp, mistakes vs. stupid actions vs. smart actions, profiting from someone else’s mistakes, the moral line, very noir, a bullet for Cinderella, surprise, the one wielding the bullet, who is on the make?, and Ruth too, Timmy was on the make, Cindy was on the make, upstate New York, place vs. character, a region of the country, the flooded river and the island, a place called Hillston, out of state plates, California, Delaware Street, a map of the town, what’s missing, do Evan’s role, the ones who stayed behind, the middle classes’ malaise with itself, the Korean War, they had such potential, living the American dream and its empty, the Progressives, the Communist Party was underground in the 1950s in the United States, everybody who survived the camp, a lean man with tremendously powerful hands and arms, a Texan and a Marine, hunt down Fitzmartin and kill him, Fitz was not a progressive, appointed committees, assigned responsibilities, retreads, Jap camps, Fitz refused, an animal instinct, icy contempt, tires, drafted into WWII, in a way, the Cold War, a magazine had done the same sort of thing, refused repatriation, turncoats, ignorant, neurotic, the dead were more interesting, whose judgement is this, a middle class judgement of the communists, I’m writing a book, making the notes, what are we reading, fake it until you make it, seeing through it, searching for meaning, a suit he puts on, a private detective, there’s jobs for white guys in the 1950s, a novel about class, Will thinks everything about class, Antoinette, the cover, full hillbilly, hot hillbilly, racism, white trash, very unsavoury, middle class guy has his romp with the proletarian woman, he uses her as a shield, he hates her, middle class bae, it was unconscionable that he didn’t die at the end, Ruth’s gonna die, everything isn’t going to be okay, this society is still depraved, Blue Velvet (1986), all the betrayals he was willing to do, The Return Of William Proxmire by Larry Niven, John D. MacDonald writes Ringworld novels, the narrator for the audiobook: so good, he does the women really well, the men really well, the radio sound, tones and moods and pacing, Winston Tharp, The Spy In The Elevator by Donald E. Westlake, top notch, he’s perfect, the angry guy, the people at the diners, the cops, a shoutout to Winston Tharp: great job!, your life is lesser by not listening to the audiobook, a different flavour when somebody else reads it, undercurrent, Hell Or High Water (2016), the decade of despair, pay off the reverse mortgage, Blue Ruin (2013), garbage truck detective, professional and causal reviewers, the pov character is “on the spectrum”, autistic detective, he just happens to be weird, the character doesn’t matter, the country’s falling apart, the police aren’t doing their job, there’s something wrong, a business collapsing, he wants to die, hidden motives, hidden from themselves, the simplest character is Fitzmartin, the daughter of the vet, why isn’t she married?, is she just waiting for the hero to arrive, I like reading books, a lot of people were not good enough (intellectually) for her, the absent owner class, the big bourgeoisie, why do we go to the Korean War again, same reason for the Vietnam War, capitalism and white supremacy, what is a military really, a machine for killing people, the average drafted soldier, how he acts in the camp, Tal’s stated reason, searching for meaning, he’s a year behind, an excuse, Ruth was looking for someone to be her equal, his stated goal was to hunt him down and kill him after, he’s a different kind of turncoat, he’s a turncoat on the species, hunting vs. stumbling, he punched him, a narrative, I told them everything except for this, he’s an unreliable narrator, those are the results, he can move on with his life, the sacrifice of Cinderella, very hard relationship, a hard scene, sending money, she was doing her best, Doyle, a lot of pathos going on, a Scarlett O’Hara vibe, all the other Cindys, the gypsy blooded girl, what’s her fate?, she gets away with nothing, totally noir, it aint that happy an ending, it intentionally creates that illusion, middle class normalcy reasserting itself, she likes to read books, I’m not a female longhair, I’m not one of those people, books like this, propaganda, an ideological statement at the end, a door, a possibility, Tal Howard is a Rorschach test, Mark Twain, it’s very easy to have principles on a full belly, Extracts From Adam’s Journal, the apple, break it slowly, Timmy was a less complicated person than I am, on a physical level, it would have been fine for a time, good talk aka podcasts, beer and bowling and sports page attitude, sticking a pin in him, are you Tal?, is the door open, this guy got the shit kicked out of her, Tal has taken over Timmy’s life, it was too easy for him, had he become, Timmy, all you gotta do is dig it up, Tal Howard evolved, he’s the Timmy who grew up, they might workout, Charlotte is for Timmy, endless yak, television, yellow kitchens, the other women choices, Ruth is similar, wiser, less cruel, he’s just in the cycle, they drink, First Blood (1982), A Dark Place aka Steel Country, intellectually disabled, emotionally disabled, Trump Pence signs, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time by Mark Haddon, the chapters are primes, a very very uncool Brick (2005), weirdness and rationalizations, very low ratings, near concern trolling, neo-noir, murder mystery shows, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, plot details vs. this town in the 1950s, hidden from us and yet revealed, metaphors for Tal’s state of mind, all the different aspects of his personality, the lure of being shallow and living in the moment, meaning, she was the treasure, Miss Major, very sympathetic lady, for – personal reasons, he’s not lying, he’s on the edge of immorality, for reasons I do not which to disclose to you, his deeper reasons, he’s obsessed with this girl she doesn’t know, Timmy wasn’t very well when he mentioned this Cindy, those dreadful teeth, the other children used to be horrible to her, they can be little animals at times, the kids today, the science teacher is so philosophical, very ruthless, Antoinette Rasi, after I learned braille, its a graduation picture, a great mass of black hair, half-French half-Italian, her people were very poor, inadequately dressed, a very alive person, across the tracks?, a boat and bait business, the shack is pictured on the cover, she had a black eye, aww, really really good writing, not artificial, who’s reading these books, math, Timmy was gifted at math, everything was too easy, Mr. Leach, not in troubles, federal narcotics people, many collars, criminals of all dimensions, that has the sound of a book, I almost died but not quite, a labour of love, should be treated with all respect, cretins who can multiply two five digits numbers, abnormally normal, creative mathematics, empty cleverness, he never had time, it wasn’t easy at the end, a fellow traveler, this a bad century, one of the faceless ones, something is eating our young, a self-inflicted abortion, those were the good old days, who got the money?, where da money?, everybody should be happy, no technical end, the storm clouds of the sixties, he’s becoming the Tim that should have been, might have been, escape this cycle, be a better man, Timmy represents potential, sleeping with his brother’s wife and stealing his money, this lie about being a writer, John D. MacDonald’s own impostor syndrome?, write to eat, I’m not David Mamet, manipulating figures in math, Fitzmartin uses them as a means to an end, the better person that Timmy should have become, not Macdonald’s first novel, Travis McGee, Lawrence Block, a devoted fan base, colours in the title, Nightmare In Pink, Bright Orange For The Shroud, The Dreadful Lemon Sky, The Cinnamon Skin, Costco, Harry Potter, series books, old books is what we need, Will, The Battle Of Chosin Reservoir, a young back, Evan has a doctorate in knowing stuff, let’s all go to this war, for show, U.N. cover, Taiwan represented China, the Vietnam War, retweeting New York Times, we know the history better than the people of the time know it, seeing it from all sorts of different sides, the job of a historian, reading fiction of the time, what it was like for them, starving in a frozen North Korean prison camp, they’re in it again, motivated by god knows what, he can’t keep his job, the psychology, notice the health, how Tal Howard survived, survivors guilt, taking over Timmy’s role, these three examples of what men can do, be assholes, be apologetic assholes, would you trust those police to help you out, they told him to leave town, private detectives, they were question the authority, the police didn’t do their job, we have a monopoly on violence, a bigger picture, let’s listen to him, good cop bad cop, us vs. them, the anti-communist stuff from this period, $47,000, I can never have too much money, wanting money will kill you, greed is a mortal sin, having money is a safety, The Zahir by Jorge Luis Borges, The Rocking-Horse Winner by D.H. Lawrence, there must be money, he rocks himself to death, stuff people want, their drab contrast, I am noted for my fondness for money, I can never have enough, she could have run over and got it herself, is it a death wish?, her boring ideas, he tries on different women, the dangerous one, drink yourself to death, toe on the trigger, which way do you wanna go?, kinda heavy, he doesn’t seem to feel bad enough, nice book you got here John D. MacDonald, he used her as a human shield, they used each other, equal use, we should strive for better relationships, this is to heavy for Paul, worried this was gonna be a podcast rather than a conversation talking about books, by being generous with our conversations, other people wanna hear about books, even if you’re not participating, that was a really good show you did Evan, everything is podcast, all the tweets, all the DMs, all the salacious details, please troll Jesse, a reality radio show about a book club.

A Bullet For Cinderella by John D. MacDonald

Gold Medal -A Bullet For Cinderella by John D. MacDonald

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The SFFaudio Podcast #604 – AUDIOBOOK: A Bullet For Cinderella by John D. MacDonald

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #604 – A Bullet For Cinderella by John D. MacDonald, read by Winston Tharp

This UNABRIDGED AUDIOBOOK (5 hours 37 minutes) comes to us courtesy of LibriVox and was first published in 1955.

The next SFFaudio Podcast will feature our discussion of it!

PAN BOOKS - A Bullet For Cinderella by John D. MacDonald

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The SFFaudio Podcast #455 – READALONG: The Moon Moth by Jack Vance

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #455 -Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa Vu, and Bryan Alexander talk about The Moon Moth by Jack Vance

Talked about on today’s game:
1961, dude!, The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame, the Seeing Ear Theatre adaptation, a setting and a culture and an experience, not very science fictiony, no weird transhumanism, deep interesting cultures and settings, more in the fantasy, a science fiction setting but it feels like fantasy, anthropological science fiction, Rite Of Passage by Alexi Panshin, Dune by Frank Herbert, goblins, the fantasy element of the masks, are you bold enough to wear a sea-dragon conquerer mask?, the adaptation follows the plot fairly faithfully, other POVs, a little more linearly, the ambassador’s folly, a masterful adaptation, like nothing we’ve ever seen before, it feels relaxing, gorgeous description, the plot is very stressful, how does this work?, the Larry Niven of economics and culture, high praise, Haxo Angmark, a Vance specialty (names), stealing his “money belt”, Cory Doctorow’s wuffie, so fascinating, I want to walk these streets, my father is a magistrate, a very libertarian society, Texas, L. Neil Smith, no expansionism, the night men, like a role-playing game, cannibalize whatever’s on the shore, indigenous people, captured by the night men!, social status, far weirder than any kind of Marxian communism, when he’s embarrassed about the fish with a face in the water, he’s acculturating to the culture, “religious convictions”, sticky and annoying like a thistle, the philology of our language and hacked it, Edwer Thissle, David D. Levine’s Tk’Tk’Tk’, what Jesse senses what walking the streets of Japan would be like, a dystopia, no government, it all comes down to violence, a very humble mask, how Saudi society works, a married couple would never show their faces to each other, a mock mask?, the afterword, clothes and nudity, the slaves are for having sex with, Jesse has questions, “I’ve been working on it for seventeen years”, a public ledger (like blockchain), a robot, electronic devices, an electric instrument, practically speaking, a bat-belt full of tiny musical instruments?, ornate and complex, the aliens are humans right?, orcs?, a weird human culture, the four outsiders, essentially humans (with pale faces), the consular representative, an anthropologist, Thomas Piketty, how do you have trade with these folks?, a trade port, fun to imagine, maybe you have people who hold value (for trade), expatriates, I will return you to the islands if you don’t obey me, food is incredibly plentiful, kind of like Venice, imaging Venice the whole time, the Dunsanian stories by H.P. Lovecraft, or Idle Days On The Yann by Lord Dunsany, the fantastic orient?, what Korea would be like from an Italian point of view, some happy fools have opened up a bookstore, people don’t want books, nail salon, skin salon, hair salon, tooth whitening, did you see a man come in here and did he take something?, why Steen was mad at somebody, he’s not acting like a Canadian, everyone in the states is so rude, so apologetic, if you don’t acknowledge how terrible you’ve been, an immoral slouch, Iranians have a way of talking around a subject (and will become annoyed when Jesse doesn’t understand), what would it have taken?, a kind of meritocracy, how reputation works in the States, infamous, Chelsea Manning, going from being a reviled traitor to having cachet, a celebrity in need of a couch, their visit to me makes me higher in the society, I gave Al Pacino a place to sleep for the night because his car broke down, how selfies work, some percentage of people want their picture taken with celebrities, our strakh in our culture is attention, Instagram people without their Instagram filters, Sirene is 1000 years in our future, free stuff, stereotypes about New Zealanders, people love Kiwis, an alien as a woman (than as a foreigner), cultural baggage, James Clavell’s Shōgun miniseries adaptation, feudal Japan, swaggering samurais, you’re disgusting and hairy, easing us into it, learning Japanese, the cultural barrier, Jesse’s strahk level plummets, the murder mystery aspect, brilliant!, the weak part, subtle or detailed, an excel sheet, a locked planet or locked houseboat mystery, Robert van Gulik, the whole murder mystery detective genre, you participate in the solving of the mystery, almost there, Judge Dee, like Sherlock Holmes but set in Ming China, a rich and decadent society, Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series, there is a structural class system, you guys are building one, number one in plutocrats!, Upstairs Downstairs, Downton Abbey, their highest hope, falling from class position, how one gets raised out of the strakh level you’re born in to, how people change classes, sociology and anthropology, the business department, Jesse is insulting someone, everybody can be a manager, this story raises so many questions about our own societies, it is not a mirror to us, StarShipSofa, Tony C. Smith, obsessed with the baroque, in the way that Tolkien is obsessed, the ornate social structures, The Potters Of Frisk, Planet Of Adventure, a tapestry of different cultures, unlock the puzzle of the culture, powned!, one delicious five volume package, what are Vance’s literary roots, science fiction friends, Poul Anderson, Frank Herbert, diverse life experience, California, sui generis, the Demon Princes novels, phone booth, his roots are not in the Clarkeian-Sturgeonian tradition, The Dying Earth, one book leads to another book, Paul got lucky, getting the urge, the BBC In Our Time on Moby Dick, the whiteness of the whale, the pasteboard masks, Philip K. Dick, Halloween, thing are quite different, we wear a mask that blinds us to the world, we wear a mask that blinds us to us, Herman Melville, hijab, it plays to the base, what would it be like to be in a world, this is a very weird world, what form of popular entertainment is being satirized, opera, music, scary talented, an operatic world, musical accompaniment, 24/7 opera, the first audio drama Marissa enjoyed, in the audiobook, an animal!, Marissa got into it, Bryan is nodding, a metaphor for getting used to a new society, a metaphor for learning a foreign language, that sense of fear, a classic mystery novel, almost a western, John D. MacDonald, plotting was the hard thing, gathering the tools up to bluff your way through, what is the author thinking, what are they trying to do, isn’t wonderful to think about beautiful dead women, I think the mystery is the plot, what would it be like where nobody has any identity except what they say is their identity, nicely shoehorned, wow! look at this world, its the one with the masks, Marissa used to be so shy, if you’re in anyway alien or introverted this is playing with the fear of that, fear of bureaucracy, at the mercy of the killer, a judo flip, Vance always has a sardonic sense of humour, The Dying Earth, civilizations rising and falling, magic, Chun the unavoidable, one of the greatest villains, a sub-genre, Hothouse by Brian Aldiss, Clark Ashton Smith, Last Castle, The Dragon Masters, I want more, so much is in it and it has a plot too?, more Vance on the schedule, the orbits that writers move in, the focus on language, Prof. Eric S. Rabkin, transformed language, Isaac Asimov, a total twin of science fiction, we do this job, we engage in the reality, fantasy as escape, working it out, this is the anthropology section of the lirbary, the soft sciences, Larry Niven did too much of it, there’s nothing more to say at the moment, if its not bio – what else you got?, genetics and epigenetics, philosophical science fiction, Mack Reynolds, a post-scarcity society, a great problem to have, nobody is starving to death, cheap food, a rich society, wearing the right suit, look at Bill Maher in his french cuffs, its a $5,000 suit, they look like clowns out of their context, the hair and makeup departments, that’s what all the slaves are doing on Sirene, hair and nails, tuning the instruments,

The Moon Moth - illustration by Dick Francis

The Moon Moth - illustration by Dick Francis

The Moon Moth - illustration by Dick Francis

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of On the Make by John MacDonald

SFFaudio Review

On the Make by John D. MacDonaldOn the Make
By John D. MacDonald; Performed by Robert Armin
Publisher: Gutter Books on Audible.com
Published: 31 May 2013
[UNABRIDGED]  – 5 hours, 18 minute

Themes: / hard-boiled / noir / crime / mystery /

Publisher summary:

Tal Howard, a disillusioned Korean War vet, breaks away from his old life, looking for answers and convinced he’s going to find them in the small town of Hillston. What’s in Hillston? Sixty grand in embezzled funds that Howard learned about from a dying friend in a POW camp. He just needs to find out where the money is hidden and contend with another former POW who has come looking for it, Earl Fitzmartin–a psychopath they were all terrified of in the camp. Howard soon learns that the secret to the money’s location lies in the dead man’s past, which must be discovered through the women he knew, such as the respectable Ruth Stamm and the sultry and dangerous Toni Rassele.

A reissue of John D. MacDonald’s 1955 standalone novel On The Make was among the first books to be released from independent publisher Gutter Books after evolving from a 7 issue run of the amazing Out of the Gutter short fiction journal which debuted in 2008. Gutter books released to date have included other classic crime reprints, new original crime novels from authors such as Joe McKinney, the anthology Atomic Noir edited by Duane Swierczynski with Lou Boxer, and even a reprint of Gold Medal’s 1950 UFO inquiry The Flying Saucers are Real by former Marine Corps naval aviator Donald Keyhoe. Now On The Make has launched as the first of what hopes to be many titles to be brought to the audiobook format by Gutter Books.

The reissue includes an introductory essay “The Two Sides of John D.” by Martin L. Kohler and a concluding essay by Gutter Book’s own Matthew Louis, both which I appreciate being included in the both the new print edition as well as the audiobook. I do have one slight issue with the introductory essay in that although On the Make was in fact the author’s intended title for the novel, the publishers went with a different title, one that in my opinion serves as a major plot spoiler consider a specific main character in the novel. Therefore my own recommendation would be to save both essays for enjoyment later after listening to the story first. That being said, my understanding is that the mention in the prologue was left intact so as not to mislead any readers who may have already be familiar with the book from the former title.

The hard-boiled 1st person narrative of On the Make is handled well by narrator Robert Armin, whose other audiobook credits include non-fiction, self-help, children’s, and crime titles as well as his own writing. The main character, Tal Howard, is a veteran of the Korean War brought to a small town seeking buried riches hinted to him from the last wishes of a fellow prisoner of war. Tal quickly finds many others snooping around and that other strangers have already outstayed their welcome in the town of Hillston. I’ve personally only read other standalone novels from the John D MacDonald bibliography and based on what I’ve read I feel this novel serves as a great introduction to this period. The essays give a good comparison and contrast from this era with his later and better known Travis McGee series of novels. Also of interest and mentioned in high regard is the science fiction works of the author which have included short stories and a handful of novels. I recalled enjoying On the Make first time around when I read the Gutter Books paperback, and enjoyed revisiting the story with the audiobook. I may have to check out some of the John D. MacDonald series or sci-fi novels.

Posted by Dan VK