Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, May 30, 2017, 12:05 p.m.
I’m not at Charlotte Motor Speedway. I’m not on a four-lane highway. Hell, Memorial Day is even over. If you’re tired, is it a mild coma? Are there degrees of comatosity? Is comatosity a word?
It is momentarily.
Charlotte for the NASCAR races was only four days (May 20, 25, 27, 28, spill-over into 29), about six quarts of road coffee and 1,000 miles on my odometer. The Accord is 17 years old and gets better mileage than the day I bought it. Right now it’s caked in dust, and there’s junk mail in the passenger floorboard and a pile of paper from the speedway’s copiers in the seat.
By the time I pulled into the garage, safely before the sun rose, with plenty of time for memorializing, I was tired of Hardee’s biscuits, and coffee that was too hot to drink even though I was too tired to wait, and even the marathon of sarcasm that is the essence of a sportswriter’s existence.
Where once I was a journalist who dabbled in novels, now I am a novelist who dabbles in journalism. With credit to my friend Jim McLaurin, “Other’n’at, ain’t much hap’nin’.”
Jeff Gluck hired me to write three columns – I wrote for Competition Plus at the Monster Energy All-Star race, and basically just did so because I wanted to get the greetings and salutations out of the way – so that he could explore the Indianapolis 500. He told me to write whatever I wanted. See jeffgluck.com.
I did. I had a ball. I fiddled around all day making observations and then strung them together and blended them in – desk persons used to love the verb “massage the copy” – to make a nice, creative pudding, butterscotch, I think, and whether or not whipped cream was on top is for readers to judge.
The question I needed to answer for myself was: Will I want to go back?
Yes. I do. I don’t want to get carried away by the band of gypsies again. I don’t want to wake up, open the curtains and look out the window to remember which town I’m in.
Stock car racing has changed. Everything else has, too. Me, for instance.
It’s still interesting, though. I haven’t rediscovered its essence, but I’ve made some progress.
If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Lightning in a Bottle, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise)
I’ve written six 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.
The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.
Lightning in a Bottle is the story of Barrie Jarman, the hope of stock car racing’s future. Barrie, a 18-year-old from Spartanburg, South Carolina, is both typical of his generation and a throwback to the sport’s glory days.
Cowboys Come Home is a modern western. 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.
Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are on sale at Emma Jane’s (see ad above). Signed copies of all my fiction are also on sale at L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton, South Carolina.
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).