Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, July 6, 2017, 11:15 a.m.
It is no discredit to The Last Paradise that it took me too long to read it. It was circumstance. I’ve been buried in my own writing, and there’s no end in sight. I’ve gotten myself overloaded with writing, and my reading has suffered, which is ultimately counterproductive because, in order for one to write, one must read.
I must anyway. Lack of reading makes me a dull boy. Jack, however, is not a dull boy. Jack Beilis is the resourceful protagonist of Antonio Garrido’s tale (translated into English by Simon Bruni).
Perhaps I am overly inquisitive. The realization that thousands of Americans migrated to the Soviet Union, seeking opportunity and fairness, in the depths of the Great Depression, fascinated me. I’m fond of history. Two of my novels, The Intangibles (set mostly in 1968) and Cowboys Come Home (mostly 1946), explore historical themes.
Garrido wrote a deft whodunit. Jack is exceptional at thinking on his feet but lacking in thinking things through. He trusts too many people, particularly when he reaches an unfamiliar land where almost no one is trustworthy. Jack is a skilled tactician but a naïve strategist.
The Soviet Union of the early 1930s has grown corrupt in its empty reliance on ideology. Philosophy becomes mythology. The leadership grows ruthless as the starving proletariat grows desperate and restless. Americans become the scapegoats. They have stumbled waywardly into a trap.
Jack and those he attempts to help wait too late. The only innocent becomes the tragic hero.
The author tricked me as an author must in a crackling whodunit. I thought he was tipping off his pitches. I was wrong. When I read such fiction, I want to be wrong.
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).