Sunday, October 25, 2015

Hoosier Tales

Somehow, I was able to finish the first draft of my Great Depression novel a couple weeks ago, which is tentatively titled, “Thursday’s Child.” I’m unsure if that is a good fit for the story, but that’s what I am calling it for now. At least until something better comes along. The majority of it is based around Prairieton, Indiana, which is a small little burg off of Terre Haute. Terre Haute does make a couple cameos; how can it not?

As I mentioned in my last post, Indiana literature is pretty non-existent. It wasn’t always like that though. From 1880 to 1920, Indiana went through a Golden Age in literature. There were some big named authors who came from Indiana.

Booth Tarkington wrote “Gentlemen from Indiana,” “Alice Adams” and “The Magnificent Ambersons;” he also won the Pulitzer not once, but twice!

Gene Stratton Porter, best known for “A Girl of the Limberlost,” “Freckles” and my personal favorite, “The Harvester” was from northern Indiana. She was also an environmentalist, a preservationist and an entrepreneur. Two years ago I went to her house in Rome, as mentioned in this entry.

The poet, James Whitcomb Riley was Indiana’s poet and he captured much of the Hoosier spirit and colloquialisms in his works. He wrote a poem called “Little Orphant Annie,” which was the inspiration for that cute little, redheaded orphan as well as the Raggedy Ann doll. Have you ever heard of the gruesome “Who’s Ear” story? That is attributed to him.

The Dreiser/Dresser brothers, Theodore and Paul hailed from Indiana. Theodore Dreiser wrote unconventional literature such as “Sister Carrie” and “An American Tragedy,” scandalizing the Victorian sentiments of the public. His older brother, Paul Dresser was known for penning Indiana’s anthem, “On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away.” If you were forced to learn that song in the 4th grade, you have him to thank for it.

The best known might be Lew Wallace. Yes, the man who wrote the epic Biblical narrative, “Ben Hur: A Tale of Christ,” came from Indiana. After from an illustrious military career, he retired to Crawfordsville, Indiana. Unable to defend his religious beliefs, he did in depth research on the life of Christ and the period, which led to his masterpiece.

There are a few other authors worth mentioning: Jessamyn West, who I only lately discovered thank to my aunts, was the author of “The Friendly Persuasion” and “Cress Delahenty.” Kurt Vonnegut, who I admit to never having read, wrote “Slaughterhouse-Five.” A current author who I have come to appreciate is Amy K. Sorrells, is known for “How Sweet the Sound” and is the only Christian author I like anymore.

Maybe one of these days I’ll be coupled with these great Hoosier men and women.