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Here’s some background information for starters:
Don Bodey: I live near where I was born, in rural Indiana, in places I keep saying I am “fixing up,” like I’ve been saying about places in Florida for awhile, Oregon for nine years, Chicago for another nine. I’m a carpenter, and for most of my life I’ve been making my living by “fixing” houses while I live there amongst the fixings, then get another one, fix it up.
Somehow I’ve also been a writer and sometimes a teacher of writing. I’ve taught at colleges and universities as a part timer. I got my Bachelor’s degree in 1968 and was immediately drafted into the Army, trained to be a mortar man, sent to Vietnam for 405 days, discharged. I earned my MFA at Oregon, and came away with the beginning of what would become
I spent some years building houses on the coast, then ended up in Chicago, teaching and writing. Within six months, in 1985, my book came out, then won the Midland Award, and my house burned down. That tragedy overwhelmed the book. With two old friends–one was 81 years old–I bought a bar in a rather “tough” Chicago neighborhood and that lasted 3 years, during which I became a father. Full circle:20 years after I left, I came back to Indiana, with my wife and son, and went to work as a carpenter again, for the ensuing 20 years.
Without the mental wherewithal to be a writer and a fixer-upper, I assumed the pragmatic role of a carpenter again, and writing all but disappeared from my life. But it’s a strong pull to want to write, so when a publisher, Victor Volkman, offered to re-publish the book, and suggested I write something to tie it into today, I jumped at the chance. It took about 18 months to put it together, but the happy result is this new edition, which ultimately, consequently, brings me here.