Not too long ago, I stumbled across a quotation:
The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the ages you have been. – Madeleine L’Engle.
All I know about Ms. L’Engle besides that sentence is that she was an American novelist who was born in 1918 and died in 2007. That’s lazy in this technology-laden age because I can learn more about her with a few clicks. She was best known for young-adult fiction, most notably A Wrinkle in Time and A Swiftly Tilting Planet.
Of all the quotations – people call them quotes, but “quote” is at its best a verb – I’ve read and posted this year, this had the most resonance.
I don’t write novels for kids – they’re too frank for the prevailing standards and probably should require parental discretion – but they occur in the nature of them. Only the first, The Audacity of Dope (2011), has no teen- or college-aged characters.
The Intangibles (2013) has, at its center, a high school football team, making a name for itself amid the struggle and strife of Southern desegregation in 1968. Three ex-players of Coach Chance Benford play roles in his fall and rise in Crazy of Natural Causes (2015). Forgive Us Our Trespasses (2016) includes the drug-dealing kids of corrupt politician Denny Frawley, their friends and lovers; his nemesis Hal Kinley’s wayward son, and the young woman with whom Hayden Kinley falls in love. Several of the short stories in Longer Songs (2016) involve old men trying give young ones advice. In Cowboys Come Home (2016), Ennis Middlebrooks and Harry Byerly are still in their early 20s when they come home from World War II, and Ennis’s wild teen-aged sister, Becky, gets herself in and out of trouble throughout.
The next one, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, will be more of the same.
I observe kids closely. Part of it is because I write free-lance stories about them playing sports. Part of it is because I wish I was young again. It’s why the Madeleine L’Engle quote moved me so. Yes! I still have all the ages I’ve been. I compare and contrast them with the ages people are now. I think often about what has changed. Over time, I have come to be believe that every generation is 80 percent the same, but people only pay attention to the 20 percent of difference.
The aftermath and effects of my own misspent youth have not been lost. I don’t expect kids to be any more perfect than I was. Most of them will benefit from the rites of passage. I did. I can even write about them.
It’s been therapeutic. My most personal novel was The Intangibles. Some of it is based on events that really happened. A lot of it I made up. For instance, the novel is older than I. I was in grade school in 1968. In writing it, though, I revisited some scars of my childhood that had been at best forgotten and at worse repressed.
I relate to all my books. I don’t think I could write them otherwise. The Intangibles is closest to the novel I actually lived more than imagined.
If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Cowboys Come Home, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise)
I’ve written five 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.
Crazy of Natural Causes is on Amazon sale all month for $.99.
The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.
My new novel is a western, Cowboys Come Home. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.
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. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.
I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.
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.
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).