Saturday, June 4, 2022

Travis McGee on city violence

 I hadn’t read John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee series in several years, and the other day I decided to read it (or some of it) once again.  In the second novel in the series (there are 21), Nightmare in Pink (published May 21, 1964), given what we are seeing in the news nowadays, MacDonald’s McGee seems especially prescient:  

“New York is where it is going to begin, I think.  You can see it coming.  The insect experts have learned how it works with locusts.  Until locust population reaches a certain density, they all act like any grasshoppers.  When the critical point is reached, they turn savage and swarm, and try to eat the world.  We’re nearing a critical point.  One day soon two strangers will bump into each other at high noon in the middle of New York.  But this time they won’t snarl and go on.  They will stop and stare and then leap at each other’s throats in a dreadful silence.  The infection will spread outward from that point.  Old ladies will crack skulls with their deadly handbags.  Cars will plunge down the crowded sidewalks.  Drives will be torn out of their cars and stomped.  It will spread to all the huge cities of the world, and by dawn of the next day there will be a horrid silence of sprawled bodies and tumbled vehicles, gutted buildings and a few wisps of smoke.  And through that silence will prowl a few, a very few of the most powerful ones, ragged and bloody, slowly tacking each other down.”

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