Mystery When It Was Cool

(Monte Dutton sketch)
(Monte Dutton sketch)

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, February 9, 2017, 11:24 a.m.

All that I found questionable about Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep was how much it rains in Los Angeles. It was published in 1939. Perhaps it’s climate change.

For a long time, I’ve wanted to read the masters of crime and mystery, principally Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. Writing complicates reading. While pecking away at my own fiction, it’s hard to find time for reading. It’s the same way that learning how to write songs diminisheS opportunities to listen to them. The camaraderie that develops between writers also begets a compulsion to read the writers of fiction by people who enjoy one’s own. I’ve got such a novel on this desk, posing and enticing me to dive into it.

Sometimes it’s a face plant.

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

I’ve been a fan of the movie for decades. It’s a Howard Hawks film, starring Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe and Lauren Bacall as Vivian Rutledge. It’s hard to beat Bogey and Bacall, and, if so, only by Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, or John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. Okay, maybe William Powell and Myrna Loy. Or James Stewart and Jean Arthur.

Few are the comparable teams. The movie version of The Big Sleep isn’t being reviewed here. It led me to the book, though it took about 35 years.

As is most often the case, Chandler’s novel is better than Hawks’ film. I want to watch the movie again because, until now, I didn’t fully understand the story. It sort of works in the film, but it can be difficult to decipher. The flick is so skillfully done that adding it all up becomes secondary.

The novel requires nimble reading, but the dance is pleasurable.

I’ll read Chandler again. It doesn’t matter if the plot is complicated. I’ll read him for the similes and metaphors.

Over the entrance doors, which would have let in a troop of Indian elephants …

… decorative trees trimmed as carefully as poodle dogs …

… she had little sharp predatory teeth, as white as fresh orange pith and as shiny as porcelain …

… the outward-turning earlobes of approaching dissolution.

… as carefully as an out-of-work showgirl uses her last good pair of stockings.

And their perfume has the rotten sweetness of a prostitute.

(Monte Dutton sketch)
(Monte Dutton sketch)

Those are in the first chapter. They flow like cake batter in a mixer.

A dying man of wealth hires Marlowe to look into a blackmail scheme involving his two bohemian daughters. Murders occur all around Marlowe, most while he is either lurking in the shadows or contending for the hit. Sexual tension hangs in every dank scene. Everyone smokes, most stylishly. Everyone drinks, ditto.

Things are, quite often, not as they seem.

Now I’ve got to talk myself down from this ledge from whose perch I have been peering through the mind of a master.

That way, perhaps, I can write again.

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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)

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

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.

(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.

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.

(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.

 

(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).

 

 

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Take Jada Ryker’s Novel and Run … with It

(Monte Dutton sketch)
(Monte Dutton sketch)

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, January 24, 2017, 11:45 a.m.

When I started reading Jada Ryker’s Take the Body and Run, I thought it was a mess. I couldn’t keep up with all the characters. This was also the way I felt when I started reading Doctor Zhivago several decades ago. I stuck with Boris Pasternak’s classic and was glad I did. The same was true of Ms. Ryker’s first novel.

I may just have encapsulated the similarity between this author and that one.

Take the Body and Run takes place on a sprawling college campus where things are not as they seem. Macey Malloy (not her real name) has taken a job formerly held by a woman who looks a lot like she does. She is fleeing from her past. Most everyone else has something to hide, too.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

It’s a lot to keep up with in the early pages. What keeps the reader, uh, reading is the author’s sense of humor. No matter how morbid the events become, Ms. Ryker keeps the reader amused. If the principal character occupies the center of the story, then there is always another pivotal figure nearby, quite often in Macey’s large purse, because the other character is a large black cat named Wikket. Wikket is unusually intelligent for a cat. Wikket is more intelligent than many of the humans.

When she begins her new job, Macey is surrounded by people who don’t particularly like her. They are fueled by resentment, suspicion, and evil intent, none of which Macey did anything to deserve. It takes much of the story to uncover all the layers of reasons why this is the case.

Only Wikket is really there for her. Wikket is a better judge of character than Macey is.

The author unabashedly categorizes her novel as “chick-lit,” which alone might have prevented me from reading it as I am not a chick. I read it because she read my 2015 novel Crazy of Natural Causes. She is a Kentuckian, and that novel is set in Kentucky. She was kind in her review of Crazy, and this gave me an incentive to read Take the Body and Run.

It is a whodunit in the classic sense. The effectiveness of a whodunit is predicated on the reader really and truly not knowing “who done it.” The reader speculates as the pages pile up. My books to this point have not been whodunits. In my books, “who done it” is obvious. The theme of my books has been finding out how “who done it” can be stopped.

This difference gave me something in the margins to ponder.

Over the years and particularly when I was younger, I experienced many raucous nights in bars but none so raucous as the one Macey experiences with her university colleagues and affiliated characters whom the reader is destined to know better.

By the end, all the mysteries are unraveled, the motivations revealed, and the mysteries resolved. One facet Ms. Ryker’s yarn shares with mine is that the story speeds to a breakneck (literally in several cases) conclusion. If the first pages are confusing, then the last ones are frantically enlightening.

When I got through, I said “whew.”

cowboyshome_fullcvr343-page-001

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)

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

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.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is on sale for 99 cents all January as a Kindle download at amazon.com.

(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.

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.

(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.

 

(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).

 

 

The Rush of Danger

Monte Dutton sketch
Monte Dutton sketch

The matter of whether Michael Carlson’s The Age of Daredevils is fiction or non is unimportant. The tale of the men and women who tumbled fatefully over the Horseshoe Falls of Niagara and through the raging rapids thereabout is true. Carlson’s knowledge is imposing and his research painstaking. The fiction in it is the thoughts and words said when the author wasn’t present to hear them. He is true to his subject. I’m confident his work is as accurate as he could have made it.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

What made me love this book is the similarity I saw between the Hill family, central to the book and its subject, and all the others drawn to the Falls, and all others drawn to danger. I could see the motorcycle jumper Evel Knievel, the stock car racer Curtis Turner, and the impetuous aviator Amelia Earhart in the characters who slipped in and out of book. All were from an age when mankind scoffed at being protected from itself.

Maybe it’s the money. Maybe it’s a change, if not an advance, in civilization. Maybe, against all odds and confounding observation, people have got more sense now. Today we crave assurance. These people went out to see if they could make it, and not particularly worrying about the possibilities that they could not.

In the case of the Hills — Red Sr., Red Jr. (Bill), Major, Corky, other siblings, their wives and children, the durable matriarch Beatrice, all perched near the Falls on the Canadian side — they didn’t do it for the loot. They enjoyed the acclaim but paid dearly for it. They were rugged individualists, veterans of wars and smugglers of bootleg liquor, carousers and alcoholics, purveyors of danger, blessed by a mother who was the only one with a lick of sense.

The Hills would have felt some kinship with NASCAR’s Pettys, or country music’s Williamses, or politics’ Kennedys. They all knew what they were doing. All paid handsomely for their sins. Reading about the Hills made me think of what the rodeo cowboy Larry Mahan said allegedly (in a Guy Clark song): Mistakes are only horses in disguise / Ain’t no need to ride ’em over ’cause you could not ride ’em different if you tried.

The story requires no ornate telling. Carlson’s style is spare prose in pursuit of an astonishing yarn. His is a newspaperman’s appreciation of simplicity coupled with an historian’s eye for detail. He lays his story out simply and without equivocation or flourish.

Highly recommended.

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

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.

(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.

My new novel is a western, Cowboys Come Home.

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.

 

(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).

cowboyshome_fullcvr343-page-001

I’

 

A Cry for Help, or, at Least, Reading

 (Monte Dutton sketch)
(Monte Dutton sketch)

I’m just about to dive into the 21st chapter of my next – and sixth – novel, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which is a few paragraphs shy of 50,000 words in its first draft.

Italics will be added when it’s published.

But first! A warm-up. La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-lah! Get the old digits cranking like pistons!

My urgency at writing everything I want to write before I die – to the best of my knowledge, it isn’t imminent – leads me into lots of competing activities.

For instance, it behooves me to sell these books.

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By Monte Dutton

Forgive Us Our Trespasses, a freewheeling yarn of crime and corruption, has been out since the spring. I’m not sure I would go as far as to note that is a huge success, but it’s the most successful of my novels to date. It’s profitable. I get a check each month, depending on the results of the previous one.

Cowboys Come Home, a western set at the end of World War II in Texas, has only been out a few weeks. Crazy of Natural Causes, a fable on the absurdity of modern life in the form of a man’s fall and rise, was published in the summer of 2015. The Intangibles, set in the tumult of 1968 in the American South, hit the virtual shelves in fall 2013. The Audacity of Dope, an irreverent story of a reluctant hero, was my first novel, released in the winter of 2011.

Longer Songs, a collection of 11 short stories derived from songs I wrote, is also a product of the current year.

Thanksgiving kicks off the holidays. People start buying Christmas trees. For some reason, many go shopping on what is known as Black Friday. I’ve never gone shopping on Black Friday. I can’t imagine doing so. Life is too short. I may have shopped online that day, but I can’t recall.

Buying my books requires no standing in line, difficulty finding the car, or walking through a story with an armful of bags, trying to find a restroom. Clicks. All it takes are clicks. And numbers. Numbers to type. Many of these numbers may already be saved in your electronic device.

Cowboys Come Home is self-published. The bad news is that I have no promotional might – activity is a better word; it’s never been mighty – behind it. I wanted to write a western. Apparently no one wanted me to do this. The good news is that I started earning money from day one. I think I made $25.71 the very first day it was on sale.

I need your help. First, I’d like for you to read it. You can download it on your phone for less than any short-order combo at Wendy’s, or Hardee’s, unless you’ve got coupons. Being a vain writer, I think that if you read it, you’ll like it, and you’ll want to say so in the form of short customer reviews at Amazon and goodreads.

(Graphic by Meredith Pritchard; cover by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Graphic by Meredith Pritchard; cover by Jennifer Skutelsky)

You’ll want to send it to your friends as gifts. Cowboys Come Home is the least “parental discretion advised” of my five novels to date (and it’s going to be less so than the next one). It’s violent. It’s harsh. The cowboys and their sinister counterparts drink, smoke, kill, and lust. They don’t curse nearly as much as the characters in the other novels.

It’s PG-13. Nothing is going to shock your teens. Nothing in the other four would probably shock your teens, either, but you still might not want them to read them. Tell them this and, undoubtedly, they will. Unless they’re on Snapchat. Which they are.

There is good to be learned from all of them, though.

Riley Mansfield (The Audacity of Dope) is a pot-smoking songwriter, but he’s also a hero with uncommon bravery, not to mention stubbornness. Frankie Hoskins (The Intangibles) is a kid trying to cope with civil rights, bigotry, drugs, sex, and, most importantly, high school football. It’s painful, particularly at the end. Chance Benford (Crazy of Natural Causes) is a football coach who must reinvent himself after personal disaster on a grand scale. Hal Kinley (Forgive Us Our Trespasses) is a good cop intent on bringing down a ruthless politician. Ennis Middlebrooks and Harry Byerly (Cowboys Come Home) are GIs, home from the Pacific, who find no peace in Texas.

Read one or two or five, and the short stories make six. If this brazen appeal doesn’t sway you, give Longer Songs a read. It won’t take long. It doesn’t cost much. It’s a sampler. If you like the short stories, you’ll love the novels.

Okay, back to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s Election Day, and football practice is about to start at Enlightened Word Academy.

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

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.

(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.

My new novel is a western, Cowboys Come Home.

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.

 

(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).

cowboyshome_fullcvr343-page-001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’

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.

Book CoverLayout_Proof (00000002)-page-0

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.

 

Little Help? Got a Manuscript Loose Out There

(Steven Novak design)
(Steven Novak design)

On with the show, this is it!

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

That Oscar-winning rabbit concluded his intro with that tune, and, as of 12:01 a.m. today (Wednesday, August 17), my fifth novel, Cowboys Come Home, is up for nomination in Amazon’s KindleScout program.

Two previous novels — KindleScout is fiction only — have been published in the program, which is something of a bridge between traditional and new publishing. Here’s a fine, balanced account of the pros and cons.

Many of you have been kind enough to read previous books of mine, dating back to the late 1990s, when I wrote my first NASCAR book, At Speed, and even back to 1986, when my first book of any kind, Pride of Clinton, hit the local shelves. Long out of print, Pride of Clinton was a history of my high school alma mater’s football team.

It was significant because it still means something to people here — I’m often asked if I have any more copies, which I don’t — and because it convinced me I was capable of writing books.

I tried to get fiction published as far back as the late eighties, but all I got were form-letter rejections. I decided I needed to get better. I don’t know if I’m good enough now, but I’m better.

I just produced a short video about my fiction.

I like to ramble with my subject matter. Maybe I’m searching for a niche, but that would be a bonus if I found one. Basically, I’ve written what I like to write. As a sportswriter, I always thought that if I was interested in something, undoubtedly there were considerable others out there who would be, too. I guess I’m not interested in a market as much as my market. It’s quite possible that innate stubbornness plays a role.

Writing fiction is hard. Doing anything well is hard. Ask a comedian. Ask a musician. Ask a plumber.

(Monte Dutton sketch)
(Monte Dutton sketch)

I’d appreciate it if you’d consider the merits of my new submission, Cowboys Come Home, which is modern western about the travails of a couple Marines coming back to Texas after meritorious service in World War II. Click on the link above (the title), and you can read a short synopsis, the first three chapters, and a Q&A with me about the book.

It’s quite different from the first four. Not as much parental discretion is required. The language is cleaner. It’s quite violent, at times. It’s got the same hard edge as the first four – in order, The Audacity of Dope, The Intangibles, Crazy of Natural Causes, and Forgive Us Our Trespasses – but it’s set in a different time and place.

If you find it promising, nominate it. If it is selected, you will receive a free download before publication, the better, presumably, for you to tell others you like it in the form of posts, tweets, Amazon and Goodreads customer review. Every little bit helps, and every little bit is worth at least an advance download if Amazon deems its quality as more than a little bit.

It takes two clicks to give my book a little nudge.

(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.

An Age in the Form of a Family

Peering into the past.(Monte Dutton photo)
Peering into the past.(Monte Dutton photo)

First of all, the title is perfect. Wild Whistling Blackbirds.

The title of my upcoming western, Cowboys Came Home, came quickly, but, usually, a title doesn’t come to me until I’m well into the first draft. Here, it’s as if author Allen Kent came up with this splendid title, rooted in poetry, and built the entire tale around fitting it perfectly. There’s no need here to betray the deftness of the touch, but it’s apt. It’s cool. It’s nifty. It’s swell.

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

The writing is lovely. The plotting is nicely paced. The history is instructive. Somehow Kent places a hub for what happened in America in the 1860s in the little town of Afton, Iowa, where a single family goes out to epitomize the time.

I didn’t really know until I finished it that Wild Whistling Blackbirds is the middle installment of a trilogy, and one reason is that the story seems self-contained. I’ve developed an unwitting habit recently of reading series in the wrong order.

The Whitlocks are a great collection of virtue, originality, and impetuosity. At the beginning, Suzanna, is left to run the family lumber mill because husband David has marched off to fight for the Union cause. Johnny has left for the West in search of adventure. Thomas has been banished to the east to learn the latest methods in treating lumber. The one daughter, Elizabeth, is reveling in the exciting modernity of Chicago, where she has been exposed to ideas anathema to conservative Afton.

The wondrous Suzanna, who has sent her brood out into the world, faces disaster that requires her to gather the clan again in order to save their livelihood.

If there is a weakness in Wild Whistling Blackbirds, it is that it all fits together so nicely that is leans a bit toward the predictable. Such craftsmanship often hazards that risk. It could be that I’m just jealous.

Allen Kent’s Wild Whistling Blackbirds is available here. The release date is July 12.

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

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy either Forgive Us Our Trespasses or Crazy of Natural Causes, and you’ll get a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs, absolutely free. Tell ‘em Mr. Monte sent you, y’hear?

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Links to print copies are below.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

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

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).