I’d Try This Style if I Could Swing It

 (Monte Dutton sketch)
(Monte Dutton sketch)

Sometimes reading a book leaves me green with envy.

Such is the case with Matthew Norman’s We’re All Damaged.

I believe we are.

Two novels ago – three once I get Cowboys Come Home finished — I started writing Crazy of Natural Causes as a farce. Then I immersed myself in the outrageous football coach, Chance Benford, I created. The plot evolved, mainly because I created a character, put him through a world-class ordeal, and kept asking myself, well, how would this guy react if this happened?

By Monte Dutton (John Clark photo)
By Monte Dutton (John Clark photo)

What happened, I suppose, is that Chance, in the throes of despair, read the Bible and learned from it while, at the same time, taking it with a grain of salt.

This isn’t about Chance or Crazy of Natural Causes, though.

Ten pages into Norman’s irreverent first-person tale, he had me identifying with the principal character, Andy, who has allowed the breakup of his marriage to bring him down. He’s fled to New York from his Nebraska roots, and We’re All Damaged brings him back to Omaha for his grandfather’s death watch.

He is as adrift as a deserted tanker in the Sargasso Sea.

I wish I wrote it. I wish I could be as farcical. My humor drifts in and out through the occasional odd turn of phrase. My style is amusing. Norman manages to make amusement the essence of his prose.

Writers don’t ponder the greener grass on the other side of the hill. They are obsessed by it. I’m proud of my style. I fancy having a unique voice, but, when I was reading We’re All Damaged, jealousy raged at mine not being his.

I get the point of the title. I knew it was appropriate before I read a chapter. People do go through life with innumerable scars that rest in their guts, even as they try to ignore them. My second novel, The Intangibles, made me confront events in my life that I didn’t consider to be traumatic at the time, but, upon further review, had been embedded, almost subliminally in my soul. Of my four novels, only that one is really based on events that I experienced in my youth. In the others, I created characters with whom I could relate, but none of them were based completely on real people. Bits and pieces of me and various acquaintances leaked in, but I don’t have any Huey P. Long to shape my Willy Stark (as in Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men).

We’re All Damaged didn’t make me laugh out loud that often. It made me chuckle throughout. I vigorously recommend it.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Most of my books can be found on Amazon here. Three are available — and signed — here in Clinton at L&L Office Supply, 114 North Main Street. The links below are all for the print versions.

Denny Frawley is an ambitious prosecutor whose ambition, private life, and family are all spiraling out of control. Hal Kinley knows he must be stopped in Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

I’ve written lots of songs. Over time, I turned eleven of them into short stories. That’s how my collection, Longer Songs, came to be.

Chance Benford is crazy at the beginning of aptly titled Crazy of Natural Causes. He learns to cope with the world’s absurdity in a variety of ways.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

The Intangibles was inspired by growing up during the tumultuous sixties and seventies. It’s a tale of civil rights, bigotry, cultural exchange, and, most importantly, high school football.

Riley Mansfield is the most likable character I’ve created. He’s a pot-smoking songwriter with a stubborn streak and the hero of The Audacity of Dope.

Look me up on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and other painstaking means of circulation that don’t occur to me now. I’m easy to find.

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