Friday, April 13, 2012

Forgotten Books: Weep for Me -- John D. MacDonald

Most readers of this blog are probably aware that Gold Medal printed Weep for Me only twice, in the editions pictured here.  John D. MacDonald didn't want any reprints, so it's become one of his more collectible books.  It's easy enough to find a copy on the 'Net, but you might not want to pay the asking price.  The book was reprinted in hardback in England after MacDonald's death, but there aren't a lot of copies of that one around, and it's also pricey.  


Would it be worth it to buy one?  To a fanatic collector, sure.  To a reader?  Probably not.  As the author himself was aware, this isn't top-shelf MacDonald.  He wrote a letter about it to The JDM Bibliophile back in the days when I was a subscriber and called it an imitation of James M. Cain.  I guess that's not too far off.  It's the story of Kyle Cameron, a bank teller, who's stuck in his dead-end job and engaged to a perfectly sweet but boring young woman.  Then the bank hires Emily Randolph.  Uh-oh.  She's one of those hot noir women that men can't resist.  Well, Kyle can't, anyway, and he's soon obsessed by her.  Can you guess what happens?


Well, maybe you can't, since Emily doesn't want him to kill her husband. All she wants him to do is help her embezzle $250,000 from the bank.  Of course he does it, and of course complications ensue.  Plenty of them.  By the time they get to Mexico (on their way to the no-extradition-treaty paradise of Argentina), the wheels really come off.


Since this is a John D. MacDonald novel, it has a lot of virtues.  For the most part, it's fast and engrossing.  It has some flaws, though.  There's some embarrassing dialogue (but then there's some of that in a lot of MacDonald's work), the characters aren't as effective as most in MacDonald's novels (at least not Cameron), and the ending is really weak.  It doesn't work at all, at least for me.  I'll bet it didn't work for MacDonald, either, when he thought about it.  Still, if you ever run across a copy for half the cover price, snap it up.  You won't regret it.


Bonus:  Here's a link to my flickr page with photos of  the covers of my JDM collection.





10 comments:

Todd Mason said...

The most disappointing of JDM novels you've read? (...still worth the look...at upwards of 17c?)

Bill Crider said...

There are a few others I'm not fond of. This one's not really that bad.

Anonymous said...

Another one I haven't read...but then I'm not about to pay the freight for a mediocre book since I'm not a fanatic collector.

I almost read and reviewed THE HOUSE GUESTS but as you know I'm not a cat lover.

Jeff

George said...

You're right about WEEP FOR ME not being top-shelf JDM. THE HOUSE GUESTS is also one of the JDM books I haven't read yet.

Anonymous said...

I have the impression that JDM's stock as a writer worth reading, let along collecting, has dropped precipitously since his death. Booksellers can quote high prices for Weep For Me all day, but is there anyone out there who wants the book anymore (same for I Could Go On Singing)?

Art Scott

Bill Crider said...

Only fanatic collectors, of which there are a few left. Weep for Me still rakes in good money when it turns up on eBay. Which isn't often.

Michael E. Stamm said...

I'd pay quite a bit over cover price for a copy--it's the last JDM title for which I have no copy at all (unless you count an umpteenth-generation photocopy which is legible but nothing more). 2nd- or 3rd-rate JDM, though it can be wince-making, is still often worth reading...though I can't say I'd read I COULD GO ON SINGING again. THE HOUSE GUESTS is non-fiction, so it's not really representative.

Kent Morgan said...

Weep For Me is the only JDM novel that is missing from my collection. I still think that one of these days a copy will show up at one of our major hospital book sales. The next one is April 21 and I'll be there battling with a couple of the big North American paperback dealers for the collectible PBs that are usually on the 50 cent table. Or perhaps I'll get lucky like I did last summer when I found a large collection of Gold Medals at a bookstore in our cottage country. I have to believe there are some good hauls left in cottages that have been in the same family for 50-60 years.

Deb said...

Is it possible that the first cover was used for another (non-JDM) book? Perhaps it's just the pose, but I seem to remember that cover on one of those books about the "twilight world" of gay men who just need a beautiful woman to "save" them.

Bill Crider said...

It's likely that a similar cover was used. I don't think that one has been re-used.