A Little Cracked

6 Mar

There is more to the story, of course, but people like the annotated version. People like to hear the romantic. Here’s a man who eschewed all riches (and ample opportunities for them) in favor of art. Here’s a man who chucked it all up to fate. That’s what they’ll say. And the particular day will assume mythic proportions in the story of American literature. But what they won’t know is all the years of misery and unhappiness that led to it. The nervous breakdown. The big crack-up. So I’ll give you the short of it. The redacted version. I know you don’t have time for sagas and you love happy endings. The seven-eighths of it is neatly tucked away under the water line. Just remember that.

And so…
Through fortuitous circumstances and an incredible time line of events, I found myself president of the Fitzsimmons Manufacturing Company. Home of “Roof-Fixquick for Roof Troubles” based in Elyria, Ohio. I will oversimplify here and just say that my family and I (wife Elizabeth, and three children: Cornelia, Windy, and Samuel) lived a most comfortable life, having become rich in American business. On Wednesday, October 28, 1912 I put on my overcoat (it was a dreary day) and walked out and down the train tracks, abandoning my responsibilities as an upper-middle class citizen, husband, and father. I walked out of Elyria, Ohio and left my family in favour of writing novels. My children were five, three, and one. (I did not claim to be a virtuous or moral man.) I walked down the middle of the train tracks in the rain all the way to North Olmstead where I caught a freight which took me to Canton. From there, I went to New Orleans. The first novel I wrote was called “Tennessee Windy.” In 1919 “Piketon” was published, which gained wide recognition. It was written as a series of short stories regarding the Alamance family from Reynoldsburg, Ohio. This book made me a revolutionary force in both the form and subject matter of the American short story. That’s what it said on the jacket, in subsequent printings. My other books were: “The Triumph of the Will,” “Women in Towns,” “A Fortune Teller’s Story,” “Dying in America,” “Marching Soldiers,” and “Kitty Carson, a Novel.” I also served as editor of a small, weekly newspaper called “The Constitution.” While on vacation with my third wife Frances in Las Tablas, Panama in 1941, I acquired an infection of the serous membrane which lines part of the abdominal cavity and some of the viscera it contains. The diagnosis of a peritoneal abscess was made after my death. I had swallowed a small shard of glass which accidentally chipped off the rim of my tumbler. The sharp sides perforated the stomach and caused infection by letting micro-organisms into the peritoneal cavity.

And that’s it. Happy ending and all. The great American success story of abandonment for the sake of art.

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5 Responses to “A Little Cracked”

  1. Kunstemaecker 07/03/2008 at 12:45 PM #

    Why would anyone choose to call his daughter “Windy”?

  2. (S)wine 08/03/2008 at 4:00 AM #

    Same reason Steve Irwin named his daughter Bindi.

  3. zombieswan 08/03/2008 at 6:19 AM #

    I had a friend who *swore* she once had a student who named her daughter Chlymidia (oh man I can’t spell that. TOo lazy to google it. You know what I mean, the STD.)

    Why indeed do people name people weird names? I never did get it.

  4. (S)wine 08/03/2008 at 6:48 PM #

    also, i actually knew a woman named Trachea; short for tracheotomy. nice.

  5. Slyboots 08/03/2008 at 8:30 PM #

    Because everyone knows, It’s Windy! And Windy has storm-my eyes! That match with the summer sky. And Windy has wings to fly! blah blah blah blah….

    Actually this one just made me think of that urge to escape, which is ultimately futile if it is focused outward. Can’t run away from what’s inside your own skin, no?

    And now back to our musical entertainment….or not- I’ll do that somewhere else, this is for serious literary discussion- have you not seen the masthead? heh heh heh

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