Have you heard that expression or did I make it up?
That’s how I felt when I read the positive feedback about my book Tracking the Human in an email from a friend in Kansas City, Missouri, who lives in the neighbourhood where my mother lived.
Here’s what Anne said about Tracking the Human: nobody’s a long time:
“You did a fine job on your book Tracking the Human. What a great approach to telling your father’s story – your painstaking search for facts bring him to life through the device of fiction. Your biography is so readable and so poignant. I’m amazed and moved by what your father – and your mother – overcame. Your depiction of the hobo life is fascinating. What a story of survival.
Your book is a generous exercise in reaching out to the past to understand a man who in so many ways was not kind to you. You too are a survivor. Sending love to you and congratulations on completing this project and doing it so well.”
Many many thanks to Anne. Everyone’s feedback to Tracking the Human is much appreciated.
If you haven’t read Tracking the Human yet, you can purchase a copy on http://www.lulu.com. It’s also available on Barnes and Noble and Amazon websites, but they pay the author very little.
I would like to share information about my book Tracking the Human: nobody’s a long time which I finished writing in January 2020. Because of the COVID19 pandemic there was no possibility of traveling from my current home in Canberra, Australia to the USA to launch the book.
Many years after being disowned by my father and after his death (1971), I made a decision to reconcile with him – with his memory – to construct a portrait of a human being that I could respect. I wrote a novel Tracking the Human: nobody’s a long time based on data I collected about my father’s contacts with the justice system in the USA. He was in and out of jails, prisons and mental health institutions (known as asylums) for many years.
The book Tracking the Human: nobody’s a long time is available on line at www.lulu.com. Also available on Amazon, but they pay the authors very little.
Here’s a comment about Tracking the Human: nobody’s a long time from my friend Martha Woodmansee, Case Western Reserve University Professor of English and Law, emerita.
It being Presidents Day here, I took the day off from politics and paperwork (a euphemism for my present stasis) to read your novel. So delicious! It’s really, really good. I do really wish you’d been able to launch it in Kansas City MO.
If you want to situate your novel thematically in our American literary tradition I’d like to stress its fit into our deeply held embrace of the individualistic self-made man myth — so destructively sexist and racist in my view — as set forth so brilliantly by F. Scott Fitzgerald in *The Great Gatsby.*
A year ending. Over and over again people made comments that this year 2020 was “unprecedented”… Yet there are always precedents… previous bush fires, previous pandemics, previous elections…. This year they all came together in a powerful punch.
I finished a book in January 2020, but because of the COVID19 pandemic there was no possibility of traveling from my current home in Canberra, Australia to the USA to launch the book. I ordered a few copies for myself and put the books in a closet, postponing my plan to launch the book in Kansas City, Missouri, Vinita and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
I had spent a few years thinking, researching, writing, rewriting… a book about my father W. Lon Hutchison… about a person I didn’t really know. To say I should have known my own father is not correct. At the time of my upbringing, (born 1945), at the place of my upbringing, (Kansas City, Missouri, USA), parents were unknown quantities to their children. Parents were power, control, but not people. Children had no “rights” to know anything about their parents. Children were just there to do what they were told to do, go where they were told to go, like objects on a chess board… moved around according to their all powerful, all knowing parents.
Many years after being disowned by my father, many years after his death (1971), I made a decision to reconcile with him – with his memory – to construct a portrait of a human being that I could respect.
I wrote a novel based on data I collected about my father’s contacts with the justice system in the USA. He was in and out of jails, prisons and mental health institutions (known as asylums) for many years.
With the current reality of COVID19, travel from Australia to the USA to launch the book is very unlikely for many months. Meanwhile, the book Tracking the Human: nobody’s a long time is available on line at www.lulu.com.
If you do purchase and read the book, I would very much appreciate your feedback, on my blog or by email at email@example.com.
During COVID restrictions, three of us completed book projects we had been working on. This weekend we’re having a three way book launch in Canberra, Australia, Saturday 7 November 2020, between 3 – 5 pm.
Until that moment in the public library in Lawrence Kansas when a record came up online that my great aunt Jessie Hutchison had my father W. Lon Hutchison committed to the Eastern Oklahoma State Mental Hospital, I had no idea that he had suffered from mental illness. I had only heard vague mention from my mother of narcotics in my father’s past.
I was shaking, when the records came up on my laptop of my father being committed by his aunt to the state mental hospital. I had never heard of the Eastern Oklahoma State Mental Hospital nor the town of Vinita, where it is located. The records were a blast from a past and from a place that were unknown to me. How could I have ever known or even heard about the Eastern Oklahoma State Mental Hospital in Vinita?
I don’t think even my mother knew about my father being committed to the state mental hospital by his own family. She once told me that he was bitter about his family but she thought it was because he had been disinherited by his siblings.
My friends in Lawrence, Kansas, where I was staying, had a road atlas. I looked up Vinita. There it was. Almost due south from Lawrence. I rented a car and left for Oklahoma the next day. It was a straight shot down a narrow two-lane road through the Kansas plains to Vinita, Oklahoma. A pleasant drive with very little traffic.
I easily found the Eastern Oklahoma State Mental Hospital just outside the town of Vinita. I drove around on the road bordering the brick buildings. The state mental hospital has an extensive, imposing campus, with no trespassing signs and a tall fence to keep people out. It had been shut down several years before.
How was I going to find out anything about my father’s time here? Would I find any clues about how he got out? Being committed to a state mental institution is often a life sentence, without parole.
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Your comments are always most welcome.
Have you had any family members committed to a state mental hospital?