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Reading For Survival
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Reading For Survival

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Títol:Reading For Survival
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Reading for Survival de John D. MacDonald

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The Lost Travis McGee

"Reading for Survival" is a literacy and reading promotion short story / novella written by John D. MacDonald who is best known as the author of the Travis McGee series. Stepping outside of the standard mystery detective or investigator model, McGee is instead a "salvage consultant" who aids clients in the recovery of stolen items.

In the short story, McGee listens patiently while his boating-bum buddy Meyer pontificates on the evolution of the human species and the preservation of human knowledge in written form.

Copies of the original 1987 booklet/pamphlet seem to go for rather alarming sums of $40 to $100 dollars at the usual rare book store websites as no recent reprints are available. I found mine in a bootleg edition that was freely posted on the web (but is no longer available). It wasn't an actual facsimile but rather the result of someone simply retyping the entire document, adding a dozen or so typos to the mix (which I assume were not in the original). ( )
  alanteder | Jan 30, 2018 |
Creator of Travis McGee argues that reading is fundamental to survival. Told as a conversation with McGee's good friend and sidekick Meyer. Pretty awesome--just looked at them used on Amazon, and they're asking $35 for ones in good condition! ( )
  unclebob53703 | Jan 25, 2015 |
I was turned on to this short essay by a friend. Her review is here:
http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/595387619
She provides a link in the comments to a place it can be read for free.

Warning: When I attempted to download the file, I was told the link contained malware, so it was blocked by my security. I had no issue reading, although today 25Apr2013, someone else got some malware from the page, so I have removed the link from here.

************ Spoilers below, but it's a nonfiction piece in a fiction setting, so I don't think they really matter ***************

MacDonald died in 1986 & this was his last published piece, I think. That makes this almost 3 decades old. It's rather chilling how well it fits today. The essay is a conversation between Travis McGee & his friend Meyer, a very well read & thoughtful man.

Meyer contends that man evolved his memory & reason as a survival mechanism. This led into a society too complex for any man to remember everything, so we then evolved writing to augment it. While no man can read everything, the successful man will read enough of everything to be able to spot logical flaws in the situations he faces & thus will avoid common pitfalls & can make rational decisions by weighing evidence & doing further research.

...one out of every three adults... cannot read well enough to understand a help-wanted ad... They are disenfranchised, completely cut off from any knowledge of history, literature, an science. And because they can't read they become negative role models for their children, who, in their turn, become a new generation of of illiterates, of victims....

Meyer says he quotes from an editorial in "American Spectator" written by R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. from the July 1986 issue.

And I [Meyer] quote: "Here in America, as elsewhere, there will always be tremulous little people of dim intellect and hyperactive imagination, burning for explanations to all life's vicissitueds.....

They are defeated by histories that illuminate the past. No species of scholarship or analysis could ever satisfy them; for they need that Wondrous Explanation that will quiet all their fears, thrill them with villains to revile, and never tax their feeble powers of intellection."

"...He is beyond reason, beyond argumentation. He is right and everyone who does not believe exactly the same as he is wrong."


Wow! How many of this sort do I encounter on a daily basis? Obviously the news items about terrorists, but also the local preacher & a neighbor who tried to convince me that the world was only 5,000 years old. (Meyer mentions this, too. Scary.) Not everyone is that bad, but many seem to believe everything demagogues & political commentators tell them. It leads to the polarized arguments over guns, abortion, & homosexuality. Complex topics yet people fall into 'right or wrong' arguments. Ridiculous, yet that's another part of our evolution showing.

Anyway, this is well worth reading. It's short, only takes a few minutes. ( )
  jimmaclachlan | Aug 18, 2014 |
Written for the Library of Congress in the year of the book 1987, JMD illustrates his belief that a person who can not read should be pitied. He uses a conversation between Travis McGee and Meyer to get the message across. JDM said several times he believed that writers were "a separate race," and the more i know about truly creative people versus the rest of the mugwumps, i do believe he is right. MacDonald is one of those rare ones -- a writer's writer. Steve kING, Dean KOONTZ, Richard MATHIESON, myhself and most others read his work as a study in style and substance. ( )
  andyray | Oct 7, 2011 |
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