Relating in Reverse

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I guess I found some identity in Roan Poulter’s Motorcycle Chronicles that meshed with my own. On several levels.

There are three of them, all about the troubled, but evolving relationship between bohemian literary figure Anne Carter and the son, Jordan, she left behind. Anne is an influence but not a character, in the final volume. They are The End of the Road, All Roads South, and The Long Road Home.

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As luck would have it, I read them in reverse order, not knowing, at the time, that I was getting in on the fun at the end. This was the source of some disadvantages but also some illumination. Part was novelty. I had never read a trilogy in reverse. I really haven’t read that many trilogies. A couple by Larry McMurtry. I think I read a trilogy by the political novelist Allen Drury when I was in high school or college.

None of my novels, so far, is connected to another. I might consider resuming the exploits of Riley Mansfield, the flawed hero (all my heroes are flawed) of The Audacity of Dope, at some point. I miss Riley, perhaps because he is so distant now.

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

But I digress.

I’ve previously written blogs about The Long Road Home and All Roads South, so this blog is primarily concerned with The End of the Road, which is, ironically, the beginning of the chronicles.

I might have found The End of the Road perplexing had I not already gotten to know Anne Carter, the mother who fled her son and does not live to see him fully accept her. The woman who inhabits the first novel has almost a split personality. She has a moral and an immoral side. She has no amoral in between. She works diligently to earn her son’s respect, but then, at the drop of a pill and the round of shots, she plunges headlong into sordid and frequently sexual ignominy. In some ways, her ancient motorcycle, The General, is a metaphor for Anne in its balky, unpredictable nature. Anne is a woman who is seldom proud of herself.

Had I read the opener first, as God and the author intended, I’m not sure whether or not I would have continued. Probably, I would have. My confusion about Anne and my sympathy for Jordan, the son, would have whetted my appetite for more. Anne was complete, in more than one sense, in the finale. Did it whet my appetite for less Anne? Something about Anne and Jordan led me back.

It was like we were playing “chicken.”

I also saw the author’s development in reverse. The Long Road Home is the most polished of the three, likely because it received the benefit of KindleScout editing, which benefited my third (Crazy of Natural Causes) and fourth (Forgive Us Our Trespasses) novels. I don’t know but expect that the first two yarns were self-edited, and I know that treacherous game. I stumbled into the KindleScout program because of problems that occurred in the publishing process of my second novel, The Intangibles.

Poulter is gifted and worth every nettlesome nitpick that pops into mind while navigating the typos. Personal experience: The problem with self-editing is that writers (perhaps particularly writers like I) make absentminded errors, and it’s hard to catch an occurrence of brain vapor lock because it’s a mistake one cannot imagine having made. One tends to miss that mistake that he cannot imagine having made.

I don’t mind a few typos. I try not to be a hypocrite. Readers don’t have to throw their rocks in glass houses. They’ve never lived there.

Another reason I love my colleague’s work is that I can relate. Jordan’s elusive mother is my father, with whom I never rode motorcycles. He came to a bad end, as well, and, only then, I came to understand him.

I doubt Roan Poulter and I are alone in that.

(Steven Novak design)
(Steven Novak design)

My modern western, Cowboys Come Home, is up for nomination at KindleScout. Click on the link above, examine the sample chapters, synopsis, and Q&A, and if you can see fit to nominate it, all you have to do is click on the blue “nominate” button. Thanks for considering it.

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

I’ve written four novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

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

The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes.

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

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.

Most of my sports columns are at montedutton.com.

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).

Coming soon: My fifth novel, a modern western, Cowboys Come Home.

 

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