Las Vegas from Back Here

(Monte Dutton sketch)

Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, October 2, 2017, 12:48 p.m.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a large-scale music festival. Thanks to friends in Texas, I’ve been to lots of small-scale music festivals, but, mostly, I’ve watched favorite musicians, barely known to most of my friends, at auditoriums, converted movie theaters, and the like. I don’t even go to large-scale sporting events much. I’m happy as a clam – a phrase John Prine turned – watching the Presbyterian Blue Hose or Furman Paladins play on Saturdays.

By Monte Dutton

TV is just fine for the Clemson Tigers.

But who hasn’t tried to put himself (or herself) in the souls of the music fans, packed into an open area, watching the act he’s been waiting to see for three days – the purpose of the whole trip! – and then finding himself in the middle of a horror movie?

It’s common for me to fall asleep with the TV on. This morning I awakened at 4:30, just enough to realize the TV was still on, and, as I reached for the remote control in the flickering light, I heard a description of a mass shooting in Las Vegas. For a moment, I thought it was a movie. At 4:30, the crawl read that there were least three dead and 20-plus wounded. I left the TV on and spent the next three hours, half awake and half asleep, embellishing the sound from the TV with small, fantastic creations of my mind.

I’ve stayed at least twice at the Mandalay Bay during trips to Vegas for stock car races. I was at the Luxor one year, too. I know the area.

Life Gets Complicated, Lightning in a Bottle and Cowboys Come Home are available at Emma Jane’s and L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton.

 

I got up, went to the bathroom, put on some coffee, went back to the bathroom for a different call, got the coffee, walked into the den, and turned the TV on. Forty-plus dead. Two-hundred-plus injured. I couldn’t just sit there. I shaved and took a shower. I drove uptown for breakfast.

“How yew, hun?”

“Sorry. We’re not open.”

“You don’t serve breakfast anymore?”

“Not until Tuesday.”

“Oh.”

I went through the McDonald’s drive-through. In front of me was a van with a ladder on top. The back was covered with bumper stickers.

InfoWars.com (some slogan under it that escapes me now).

Trump.

NRA.

Don’t Tread on Me.

Armed and Loaded.

I wanted to know who that was. I was trying to see his face through the side mirrors on the van. Then I saw a sticker identifying the van as being licensed by the City of Newberry, so I realized it wasn’t likely anyone I knew.

I don’t begrudge anyone his or her beliefs. If there’s anything I begrudge, it’s people who denigrate those who disagree with them. At that moment, though, I was angry. Events were rising up in my chest like heartburn. I guess I wanted the guy to climb out and rip all his decals off. That was unreasonable. So was I. No reason was anywhere.

I listened to satellite radio on the way to the grocery store. Thirty-plus dead. Three-hundred-plus injured.

Nowhere does my extroversion occur as naturally as in a store. I chat with people I don’t know. I wink at their babies. I recommend the chicken salad. On this trip, I didn’t say a word to anyone. I pushed the cart and put things in it. The only decision I recall making was to give the pumpkin spice bagels a try. I bought bagels because all I could remember being in my refrigerator were two tubs of cream cheese.

I got back home and put the groceries away. At least 58 dead. Five-hundred-plus injured.

 

The Barrie Jarman Adventures (Gabe Whisnant photo)

 

(Steven Novak design)

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Life Gets Complicated, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise). Or, just drop me a line and you can pay through PayPal.

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

I’ve written seven 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.

Life Gets Complicated follows Barrie Jarman as he moves up to FASCAR’s premier series. He and Angela Hughston face discrimination for their interracial love affair, and Barrie has to surmount unexpected obstacles that test his resolve.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

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.

(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.

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.

(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).

Write me at hutdut@duttonm@bellsouth.net or “message” me through social media.

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Among What Is Small by Comparison

 

(Monte Dutton sketch)

Somehow I spent most of two days working on a stock car racing story.

By Monte Dutton

Oh, I cut the grass the first day. Yesterday I shipped off some copies of my new racing novel, Life Gets Complicated. I wrote a regular column for a website. Okay, two stock car racing stories. And two stock car racing novels this year.

In a way, I’m back in business.

At the moment, a huge chunk of Texas is underwater, so it ill behooves anyone else to complain.

I’m glad to be high and dry, though I am concerned about the forecast for high school football Friday night. So dire is the situation in Texas that high school football is the least of worries there. That’s unusual as I have attended several games there, but these are desperate times.

Life Gets Complicated, Lightning in a Bottle and Cowboys Come Home are available at Emma Jane’s and L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton.

I thought briefly about going to a watering hole and ordering a Harvey Wallbanger. Only briefly. I’m not sure what a Harvey Wallbanger is, but I have access to the Internet.

It’s made with vodka, Galliano, and orange juice. What is Galliano?

It’s a sweet, herbal liqueur. Okay.

I think I’ll stick with a mug of coffee.

The beginning of this blog, by the way, was an exercise in waiting for a phone call.

Modern problems. They’re waiting for waters to crest on Buffalo Bayou, and I’m fretting about getting my mother’s lawn mowed before rain hits here tonight. I’m worried that a high school game scheduled for Friday might be played on Saturday, when I’ve got a book signing in Spartanburg.

Did I mention I have a book signing? It’s on Facebook, just like everything else that’s on Twitter.

 

(Steven Novak design)

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Life Gets Complicated, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise). Or, just drop me a line and you can pay through PayPal.

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

I’ve written seven 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.

LightningBottle_CVR_LRG
(Cover design by Steven Novak)

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.

Life Gets Complicated follows Barrie Jarman as he moves up to FASCAR’s premier series. He and Angela Hughston face discrimination for their interracial love affair, and Barrie has to surmount unexpected obstacles that test his resolve.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

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.

(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.

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.

(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).

Write me at hutdut@duttonm@bellsouth.net or “message” me through social media.

 

Apparently the Eclipse Zapped Me

(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, August 25, 2017, 11:23 a.m.

This week has been a strange one. I think I may have been zapped by the eclipse.

By Monte Dutton

My new novel – and first sequel – is out. I have a book signing in Spartanburg on September 2 at Hub City Bookshop (3 p.m.). The week has been spent the way all weeks are when a new book is out. It’s sporadic, and slow, and unfulfilling. Writing a novel is exciting. Selling it is burdensome.

Everything is slow, most notably money. To paraphrase the late Henny Youngman, buy my novel. Please!

My glands are swollen. Earlier this week, it was on my left side. Now it’s the right. I didn’t feel badly until last night. I’m better this morning. Tonight I’ll be writing about the annual high school football rivalry between Clinton and Laurens. This game is nothing special elsewhere. Locally, it’s roughly as important as the aforementioned eclipse. What separates Clinton-Laurens from the eclipse is that Clinton-Laurens happens every year. The grass needs cutting. Bills need paying. I’m on autopilot. I like it better when I have something to do with the steering of my life.

Lightning in a Bottle and Cowboys Come Home are available at Emma Jane’s and L&L Office Supply in uptown Clinton. As soon as the shipment arrives, so too will Life Gets Complicated.

Last night Cleveland pummeled the Red Sox unmercifully, but the Yankees lost in Detroit, so the AL East lead is still 4-1/2 games as Boston heads home to meet the Orioles at Fenway Park. I’ll be at K.C. Hanna Stadium. That’s where the Laurens Raiders play the Clinton Red Devils. I was once a Red Devil, a mere 42 years ago.

(Steven Novak cover design)

The NASCAR circuit, my home for 20 years, is idle this week. Without racing to watch, I hope NASCAR fans will have time to read, preferably my two novels on the sport, Lightning in a Bottle, which was published this spring, and Life Gets Complicated, which was published this week.

(Steven Novak cover design)

Life Gets Complicated could easily be the title of this week, but the novel is far more interesting. Obviously.

I’ve been writing an original short story about Barrie Jarman, the hero of the two racing novels, for a collection of short stories that will be offered for free in the fall.

Then there’s the next novel, which has been as slow as Lightning in a Bottle and Life Gets Complicated were fast. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell won’t get italics until it is finished and published. It’s about to get a new ending. Things changed. The real world changed. My fiction changed with the election of Donald J. Trump. It changed so much that I wrote two sports novels while pondering the ramifications.

(Monte Dutton sketch)

This is a time of many thoughts, few of them coherent. I’m trying to find an ending to a novel that makes sense in the context of current events. I’ve got to get it done. A cover is being designed. An excerpt is soon to be published in the same collection noted above.

At the moment, I’m incapable of writing anything more interesting than this. I’m biding my time by spinning my wheels. An old song comes to mind:

Gimme a beer or two and I’ll be fine / At least it worked every other time / I’m a rodeo-deo-deo cowboy / Bordering on the insane.

Hah. I haven’t had a beer in months. I can’t remember the last one. Soon there will be parking lots outside of football stadiums before and after games that I am not covering. The life of a writer is solitary. He’s got to get out, though, so that he can find fuel for his writing to burn.

 

(Steven Novak design)

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Life Gets Complicated, 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 seven 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.

LightningBottle_CVR_LRG
(Cover design by Steven Novak)

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.

Life Gets Complicated follows Barrie Jarman as he moves up to FASCAR’s premier series. He and Angela Hughston face discrimination for their interracial love affair, and Barrie has to surmount unexpected obstacles that test his resolve.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

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.

(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.

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.

(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).

 

Oh, a New Novel … Jerry Lewis … a Total Eclipse … Just Another Week

(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Sunday, August 20, 2017, 5:40 p.m.

What a week.

By Monte Dutton

My new novel, Life Gets Complicated, is out, weeks ahead of expectations. The 2016 western, Cowboys Come Home, joins Lightning in a Bottle in audio production, meaning that you will soon be able to listen to those two novels while driving your car, or doing yardwork, or … possibilities are almost endless.

Life Gets Complicated, a sequel to Lightning in a Bottle, gets released in conjunction with a total eclipse of the sun. I’ll be strolling downtown to cover the eclipse from the public square in town. The print version is out at the CreateSpace online store now. It will probably be about a week until I get some copies delivered. It’s available in Kindle on Amazon.

Here’s the CreateSpace link: https://www.createspace.com/7475752

Here’s the Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Life-Complicated-Barrie-Jarman-Adventures-ebook/dp/B074YN5FC2/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Jerry Lewis died. I met him once. A friend and I were waiting to be seated at a Las Vegas restaurant. A photo of Lewis was on display. I pointed this out, and my friend thought I was talking about Jerry Lee Lewis. I was explaining the difference, and, to demonstrate, I imitated the comedian.

Hey, laaadyyyy!

I looked up, and he was standing about five feet away. He made a funny face and wiggled his fingers as he waved at us. Then we shook hands. I was so taken aback that I never thought to ask for an autograph or pose for a photo.

It was a while back, before everyone had a cell phone for such duties.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017, 10:35 a.m.

A few observations regarding the total eclipse of the sun.

Had circumstances been different, my view, literally and figuratively, would have been different. I “covered” the eclipse. It went right overhead. I wouldn’t have felt any particular desire to go anywhere beyond my front yard. When asked if I wanted to write about the local celebration, I said, sure. It’s what a free-lance writer does. Otherwise, I might have mowed the lawn during the eclipse. I told my mother that on the phone last night, and she said the neighbors would have thought I was crazy. I replied that I didn’t mind it if they thought I was crazy.

But … fate intervened. Fortunately.

The wonder of the eclipse was just as significant in watching the people watch as it was watching the eclipse itself. I would not have appreciated it fully had I experienced it in solitude.

The local celebration, Total Eclipse on the Rails, was scheduled for 1-5 p.m. The eclipse occurred in all its glory at 2:41. I drove uptown at about noon, and, since I know what happens when the square is blocked off, I expertly drove several side streets so that I could reach an area only one block away. There I parallel-parked my truck rather well, I thought, and killed an hour talking in the air-conditioned bonhomie of L&L Office Supply, which is a hangout of mine on those rare occasions when I hang out.

I took my camera, a notepad, two pens, and the fold-out seat I normally use only at athletic events. I got parched. The actual eclipse gave me a brief, mild headache. I chatted with many attendees, fascinated by the sudden convergence of some people from thousands of miles away to this simple town.

It was perfect. It was big but not too big. Clinton didn’t make a big deal out of drawing tourists, but it did provide a wonderful experience for those who showed up because they found the town on a map and didn’t want to go through the hassle of Greenville, Columbia, and other larger cities.

Mayor Bob McLean greets visitors. The mayor is the one without the tinfoil hat.

They had food tents, a high-definition TV screen, on-site coverage from the local radio station, and old-time rhythm and blues, a.k.a. “beach music” in these parts.

Most people drifted away after the skies brightened again, and there was a collective realization that it was hot as hell. I had several errands to run, and I was happy to get back home, where I drank about a quart of ice water and went to work writing.

Here’s what I wrote for the county website: http://golaurens.com/news/item/27416

(Steven Novak design)

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Life Gets Complicated, 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 seven 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.

LightningBottle_CVR_LRG
(Cover design by Steven Novak)

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.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

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.

(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.

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.

(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).

 

In the Path of the Great Eclipse

(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, August 17, 2017, 11:05 a.m.

By Monte Dutton

I watched the Red Devils scrimmage Blacksburg for a while. I wish I’d brought an egg to see if it would fry on the concrete stands of Wilder Stadium. Most of the fans were smarter than I. They watched from the visiting stands, which were shaded at 6 p.m. I just thought Blacksburg brought a crowd that coincidentally happened to be wearing red shirts.

For a while, I leaned left to give my right butt cheek some relief, and then I leaned right to lessen the likelihood of blisters on the left. I managed to hold out until all the boiled peanuts were gone. My intention was to make my way across to the other side, but I chatted with M.D. (Mad Dog) Knight for a while. Then Mac Young wandered over, and we stood around telling old stories about the Red Devils of yore.

Mookie Betts (Monte Dutton sketch)

I went home and picked up the Red Sox, already in progress. They fell behind the St. Louis Cardinals, 4-0, almost immediately after I found the remote. I was drinking a quart of ice water at the time.

On Tuesday night, in the first five innings, the Bostons had scored 10 runs and turned one triple and two double plays. Magic was obviously still in the Fenway Park air when, with a man on third, Jackie Bradley Jr., the splendid Red Sox center fielder, charged a one-hop single and threw out the St. Louis baserunner at the plate. Now get this straight. He threw out a man trying to reach the plate from third base on a single. Just a routine one-hopper to center. The play at the plate wasn’t close. It was one of the damnder throws I’ve ever witnessed.

With a total eclipse headed inexorably toward my hometown from 92.96 million miles away – I looked up the driving directions on my phone – the Red Sox’ ninth walk-off of the season seemed inevitable. With two out in the ninth, the similarly splendid right fielder, Mookie Betts, doubled off the wall, and Bradley was safe at the plate because Yadier Molina couldn’t corral the throw. Bradley scored the second run of the play and fifth of the game. The Cardinals finished with four.

It was Molina who had grounded into the triple play. It wasn’t his series.

It’s Meet the Red Devils over at the gymnasium tonight. I’m not sure whether I’ll make it or not. The Yankees don’t arrive at Fenway until Friday. Clinton High doesn’t arrive at K.C. Hanna (in Laurens) until Friday week, as we say in these parts.

(Monte Dutton photo)

Until the past hour, I thought I might be the only person in its path who isn’t excited about the eclipse. I’m not too fond of cramming millions of people into a band that curves toward Clinton from the coast of Oregon. I remember seeing an eclipse of some sort when I was a child. I remember being warned that it would blind me if I looked straight at it for too long, but no one offered special glasses, and I remember that I just looked at it for a few seconds and then looked away. I figure I’ll probably do that again, but I just finished reading the Clinton Chronicle and discovered that, if I go up to something called Total Eclipse at the Rails, safety glasses will be provided by Family Eye Care.

(Monte Dutton photo)

I also read where turtles will hide, bats will fly, birds will nest, and hardworking ants will knock off. Some are predicting an appearance by the Lizard Man of Lee County, most likely in Lee, not Laurens, County. Who knows, though? People know what the cows will do (nothing), but scientists have no fix on the Lizard Man.

I reckon I’ll go uptown like everyone else. I was thinking about taking my guitar, sitting on the bench placed in memory of J.A. Orr on Musgrove Street, and playing a revised verse of Skeeter Davis’s “The End of the World.”

Why did the sun stop shining? / Why do the stars twinkle bright? / Don’t they know it’s the end of the world? / It ended when you said goodbye.

Horseshoe Falls (Monte Dutton photo)

I’ve also been thinking about watching it from Musgrove Mill State Park, a part of which includes Horseshoe Falls on the Enoree River. I’m a little worried, though, at what cottonmouths might do. It wasn’t covered in the Chronicle.

 

 

(Steven Novak design)

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)

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

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.

LightningBottle_CVR_LRG
(Cover design by Steven Novak)

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.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

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.

(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.

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.

(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 Annual Clash of Emotions about Daddy

(Monte Dutton photo)

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.

Monte Dutton

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?

Readers wonder, Is this about you? No. The story is not about me. I am about the story. I’m standing around the corner, pretending to be Rod Serling. (Wikipedia, kids.)

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.

 

(Steven Novak design)

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)

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

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.

LightningBottle_CVR_LRG
(Cover design by Steven Novak)

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.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

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.

(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.

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.

(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).

So Damned Much Is Senseless

Seaside, Oregon (Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, June 14, 2017, 9:56 a.m.

I don’t know what to write. I’m just trying because I find it therapeutic. When nothing makes sense, and I need it to, I just write. With a little luck, it turns into a blog. Either that, or I play guitar a while. The point at which I start writing in earnest – on a fiction project, for instance – is typically the culmination of coffee, social media, breakfast, watching the news, and checking the latest sales figures.

By Monte Dutton

Sometimes, though, the world gets in the way. Bad news seems extra stark in the morning. The TV screen fills up: A CBS News Special Report! I’m lucky. The best possible person to deliver bad news is Charlie Rose.

Five people, one of whom is the Majority Whip of the United States House of Representatives, were shot this morning while practicing for a Congressional baseball game. A baseball game! A shooting at ball practice is some kind of cosmic statement, a perfect allegory of what life has become. It doesn’t matter whether one thinks the solution is reducing arms or increasing them. Both sides know that things are seriously screwed up. America is going to hell. A broad distance stretches out to the horizon as to the reasons why.

Nothing seems real. Not politics. Not sports. In the short run, violence makes me numb. The Red Sox have won dramatically in extra innings two straight nights. That magic went up in a hail of fire.

The Warriors won the NBA. The Penguins won the Stanley Cup. The Tigers went to the White House. Jeff Sessions went back to the Senate. I went to Bi-Lo. Coffee was on sale.

Whoop-dee-doo.

I think I’m going to edit today. I doubt I’m going to be able to conjure something new. I can be meticulous. Probably not creative.

The Washington Monument (Monte Dutton photo)

Too many of these incidents crop up in life. The memories may subside a bit, but they don’t go away. I was five when President Kennedy was assassinated. Some of those memories are the basis of the first chapter in my second novel, The Intangibles. Much of the chapter I invented, but it spread out from the JFK memories.

I was watching on TV when Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald. I awakened to news of Sirhan Sirhan murdering Robert Kennedy. I was riding around Laurens with my father when Arthur Bremer shot George Wallace. I was sitting on a couch in the Presbyterian College sports information office when the Challenger exploded. I watched 9/11 unfold here, in my living room, where I am sitting now.

At the moment, CBS News looks like an old Clint Eastwood movie.

 

 

(Steven Novak design)

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)

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

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.

LightningBottle_CVR_LRG
(Cover design by Steven Novak)

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.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

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.

(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.

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.

(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).