Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, June 18, 2017, 10:15 a.m.
In a way, Father’s Day is empty. I’m not one, though a niece, nephews, a great-niece, and great-nephews pretend I am. This I appreciate.
In another, it makes me ever more mindful of how I remain affected by my father, who died in 1993.
Over the past six years – my Fiction Era – one of my goals has been to diversify. I’ve never written a story solely based on me. The closest is The Intangibles, a tale of the small-town South in the civil-rights era. I’m not interesting enough to be a main character. I do show up everywhere. I conjure up characters as if I’m cooking a stew that requires frequent stirring. I get the character in mind, and then I think through them. He’s this way. That happened. What does he do?
Riley Mansfield (The Audacity of Dope) is a son of my father, as are Frankie Mansfield (The Intangibles) and Barrie Jarman (Lightning in a Bottle). In only one of those cases did I realize it while I was writing. Hal Kinley (Forgive Us Our Trespasses) is kind of a cross between me and him.
If my father’s goal was to live on in me, he succeeded. It’s a mixed blessing.
My father was by no means from the wrong side of the tracks, but he preferred to be. He enjoyed seeing the high and mighty chopped down to size. Me, too. It was the perfect reason to become a journalist.
He could be his own worst enemy. So can I.
I can’t speak for every boy. I suspect, though, that many harbor a deep determination, at some point in the adolescent years, to escape the old man’s shadow. I expect it’s hard for them all. It’s impossible for me. He gave his nature and nurtured it. That’s a tough team to beat.
My father was larger than life, and what I learned is that people who are larger than life often have both magnificent virtues and devastating vices.
I try to stay relatively clear of the wreckage by writing about it, not participating. I’ve seen enough to fake it.
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).