Review of “The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything,” by John D. MacDonald

I found this oldie (published in 1962) as a Kindle book at the Fairfax County public library. It is a kind of screwball science fiction/fantasy adventure romp with strong romantic and sexual overtones. However, there were no overtly sexual passages, only references and brief summaries. I’m not here to summarize the book, however, only share my opinion about it.

First off, despite how old it is, I had no idea what it was about other than finding it listed under “science fiction.” So I was surprised at discovering the implications of the title–twice. I like to stumble into stories most of the time.

The story was told with a lot of dialogue. Everyone was given an opportunity to rant about their plans and aspirations regarding the object of their fascination. Unfortunately, the conversations got confusing because of an almost total lack of dialogue tags. I had to reread a lot of it over again to sort out the “he said/she said” problem. A lot of this was to try and keep the pace fast, but without male/female voices to distinguish their lines, it didn’t work very well. Then, sometimes, the author got carried away with redundant “he said” tags. Inconsistent. When the narrator was describing action (third person past tense), they almost never used the male protagonist’s name (Kirby). I got really tired of “he did this…”

Many times I got the impression I was reading a poorly written screenplay. (It was turned into a TV movie in 1981.) The plot is straightforward, so much so that I was inventing possible complexities to make it more intellectually challenging. It just plodded along, but that’s not fair: The action was constant if implausible, but even that got a little repetitive. I guess some stories are best told in film…

This is a classic 60s romantic adventure…with a twist. Despite my harsh criticism, I enjoyed it overall and would recommend it to anyone looking for some light reading. I wouldn’t call it a page turner, but I didn’t dread continuing my reading.

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