Novy's Son is my first novel to be published. The title is a curious one to most readers since they are not familiar with the name Novy.
It is a nickname that my great-grandfather gave to my grandfather when he was only about three years old. Exactly why that name and where it came from is a mystery.
My father is the main character and exemplifies what I consider the lost connection between a father and a son. Robert Bly named it the Iron John concept. Traditionally the man is to teach his son how to be a man: to hunt, provide, and protect.
The men do not grow up with the Iron John connection often will turn to unacceptable social behaviors. In a twisted way they think their behaviors (womanizing, gambling, abuse, etc) will bring the love and acceptance from their fathers for which they so desperately seek.
Here is an excerpt from Novy's Son:
The month alone with Dad was an experience I will never forget. I wish I could have had more times like that. We spent the days working side by side helping Juan. In the evenings after
dinner, we would sit by the radio and listen to the news or music. We didn’t talk much as I found myself content just to be alone in Dad’s presence. Usually he would light one cigarette from the butt of another, then hang it loosely between his lips. When the ashes got too long, he’d hold the cigarette upside down and use his middle and fourth finger to flicker the ashes loose. I’d watch them fall into his brass ashtray.
I liked it best when he would pack one of his pipes with the aromatic Prince Albert tobacco, then take out his small box of wooden matches from his front pocket. There was magic as he puffed on the stem, and the flame of the lit match would dance with the movement of the air until soon the fragrant smoke filled the room. He would sit back in the chair, relaxing his back and shoulders, enjoying the smell and taste of his pipe. With his legs crossed at the knees, he slowly and rhythmically swung his top leg back and forth as if he were keeping time to music only he could hear.
During my last evening there, the silence was suddenly broken when Dad asked, “Murray, have you thought about where you would like to go to college?”
I had thought about college, but I hesitantly responded, “Well, I have thought about it some, but with the economy and all the changes with our family, I’m not sure I can go.”
“Don’t worry about the money. Your education is too important, and we will figure out a way to pay for it.” Finishing his pipe, he tapped it gently on the brass ashtray, took out his penknife, and became absorbed in cleaning out the bowl of his pipe. Every now and, he would tap the loosened ashes into his hand, then brush them into the ashtray.
After a few minutes, I said, “Dad, I would like to go to Stanford, but I’m not sure I have the grades to get in.” I expected to hear words of reprimand about my study habits and B and C grades.
Instead he just nodded his head. “It is pretty hard to be admitted into Stanford, isn’t it?”
Watching Dad again nod his head, I quietly said, “Yes, it is.” After an uncomfortable silence, I began explaining my grades. “You know, Dad, I study hard.” He just sat quietly, lighting a cigarette. “I went to school and did my homework. You know I was busy helping you with the farm, and helping Mother with Jack and Richard.”
“Don’t make excuses, Murray.” Getting up from his chair, he ended the conversation, saying, “I want you to go to college because an education is very important. I’m going out for a walk, then to bed.”
I felt anger and frustration rise in me as I said, “Good night, Dad.” As he shut the door behind him, I knew any further conversation with him about my education was over.
“He doesn’t understand me or what I am going through,” I thought to myself. “He has always favored my brothers and expects too much from me. He thinks I should be just like he was. Why can’t he just listen to me? Why is it so hard for me to talk to him?” These were some of my thoughts as I sat staring at the front door.
Once Dad had gone to bed, I sneaked a few shots of bourbon, which helped ease my pain, just as it had so many other times. I was confident my habit was a well-hidden secret, seeing I kept my own little bottle under the mattress. I sat on the edge of the bed, letting the smooth burn of the bourbon warm and relax me. “Somehow I must prove to Dad that he can be proud of me,” I thought. “I will go to college, even if it’s not Stanford.”
I loved and respected Dad. I knew he was disappointed in me, but our inability to talk to one another prevented real bonding.
Novy's Son was named Book of the Month for the month of March by Rave Reviews Book Club.
It is available atwww.amazon.com/novys-son-selfish-genius in ebook or paperback.