Thursday, September 11, 2008

Gregory McDonald, R.I.P.

Before posting this I checked with Matt Bialer who at the time was my agent at William Morris. He is now at Sanford Greenburger Associates..

From Matt:

"Gosh, you remember the Fletch project better than me. I vaguely remember and what you said sounds right. And if it is not right, I don't think anyone will tell you that you are wrong!"

Gregory McDonaldonald Dead
Written by Edward Champion
Posted on September 9, 2008
Filed Under Fletch, Obits, mcdonald-gregory
Giles News is reporting that Gregory McDonald, the tremendously talented author of the Fletch series has died. I am now making efforts to confirm this. If this is true, this is a tremendous loss to American letters.
[UPDATE: I have confirmed by phone with Charlie of the Giles County Ambulance Service that Gregory McDonald passed away on Sunday. As soon as I have a chance to collect my thoughts and feelings, I plan to offer a full-length tribute here. I'm still in shock.]

Ed here: I was a big Gregory McDonald fan. He did something fresh with the mystery novel and did it with great style and wit. I still reread the first six or seven of the Fletch books from time to time. My favorite is Fletch and The Man Who. McDonald had obviously hung around (maybe worked for) a few political campaigns in his time. An excellent mystery and given the family at its center probably the darkest of the Fletch books.

If you'll forgive me my chemo-brained memories, sometime in the 90s (I suspect the mid-Nineties, maybe a bit earlier) McDonald had an idea for a series he didn't have time to write. He may have been in Hwood in those days. This was to be unlike the Fletch books. I don't quite remember how this came about but anyway I was contacted by Matt Bialer and asked if I'd look at McDonald's outline and try a few chapters. I did and McDonald seemed to like them. He revised them slightly and we went to market. But for some reason the book didn't sell. He wrote me a nice note for my work. As I think back on it I suspect he/we were about five years ahead of the curve. It would have worked nicely near the end of the decade or now. Plus it was such a break from his other books that I suspect publishers weren't quite sure what to do with it. It was essentially a cozy but with a dark undertow, the kind of book Nancy Pickard would write in turning cozies into a more serious direction.


Vince said...

Fletch and the Man Who is also my pick of the series, Ed. It features one of my all-time favorite scenes. Fletch is at a table of political hacks at an event, with one of them predicting every hackneyed phrase in a speech. Brilliant stuff. McDonald was a big talent.

buckycatt said...

I devoured the two Skylar novels early this year and thought they were great. I read so many mysteries, I can usually pick out the killer but in the first of the two I really had no idea, til McDonald chose to tell me. The two books have been panned on but I liked them very much. I have read most of the Fletch novels as well, but Skylar is fresher in my mind. Thank you for remembering a great author.