From the day we are brought into the world until the day we are unceremoniously kicked out, we are marked by each passing moment. We are carved like soapstone into our ever growing imperfection by intrinsic, personal events. A map of personal history. We are but the lives we live.
As a toddler, my family lived outside Covington, KY on a horse farm. My memories of that time are most likely manifest from stories told and pictures seen, though some seem so crystal clear when I think upon them. Too clear not to be my own. I don’t know, I wasn’t much taller than a knot on a log.
What does this have to do with CRIMES IN SOUTHERN INDIANA? Nothing and everything.
My folks split when I was three and through out my childhood, bolstered by mom’s venomous hate towards my absent father, it marked me more than it should have. It grew from a scratch to gash to near abscessed pain and anger. By the time I was 15, I didn’t much like either of my parents.
Frank Bill‘s book CRIMES IN SOUTHERN INDIANA is chock full of wonderful stories about people marred by experience, circumstance and isolation. Most have little vindication or happy resolve, but each carves a dark image of life in southern Indiana.
I was 25 when I met my father again for the first time. At the insistence of my young bride, I called him from a hotel room just outside of Cincinnati. I half expected him to have horns and a tail or eyes pitch coal black and filled with evil. I was awash of emotions, all including hate, disgust and anger. That all but melted away when I opened the hotel room door. He was my blood.
I had gotten about halfway through CRIMES IN SOUTHERN INDIANA when I read “The Old Mechanic” which depicted a young Frank meeting his estranged grandfather for the first time. It immediately pulled at those old scars. The memories of a fatherless youth and reconnecting with a past I never really had. It reminded me that we are very much the definition of our past, but our past doesn’t have to define our future.
CRIMES IN SOUTHERN INDIANA is rich with local experience and setting, but the characters’ lives are very much the stitches of an unraveling patchwork Americana. For better or worse we are the lives we live.