The Toughest Question

After my reading last night at Annie Bloom’s, the toughest question I faced from a member of the audience (Phil Lavine, a friend and neighbor) was this: If your father was still alive, would he read Trout Kill,and what would he think of it? I replied that my father, Emmit Willis Dage, who died about 12 years ago, would have been proud of me for writing the novel and, yes, he most definitely would have read it. The storyline in TK involves Eddy’s search for his father, who abandoned him 47 years earlier. My father never “abandoned” me, or my sister, Bev, but he was absent, both literally and figuratively, for years at a time. Bev and I knew him as a big-hearted man who drank, smoked, cussed, philandered and, eventually, divorced our mother, Helen, married a woman named Rose, divorced her and then remarried Helen. My mother, despite very limited financial resources, raised me and Bev mostly by herself. One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in writing this trilogy (Trout Kill, Trout Run and Trout Love) is figuring how to fictionalize the events that land very close to home, and the characters who participate in those events. Thank you, Phil, for asking that question.Photo1(12)

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