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The Outhouse Gang: A novel of fathers and sons by [Neil S. Plakcy]

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The Outhouse Gang: A novel of fathers and sons Kindle Edition

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Neil Plakcy grew up in a town very much like Stewart's Crossing, at a time when the world was changing a great deal for fathers and sons. The connection between men and their male offspring is an important issue in many of his books, including the Mahu mystery series, the short story "At the Diner" and the mystery novel In Dog We Trust. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

From the Author

After my father passed away, I began thinking about what his life must have been like during the years when I was a kid, in southeastern Pennsylvania, in the 1960s and 1970s. He was an older dad, 38 when I was born, and he worked long hours as an aeronautical engineer, with a commute that took him away from home before I woke up and brought him back, tired, at dinner time.

On the weekends, my mother ran errands and my father worked around the house or in his wood and metal shop in the basement. On rare occasions during the summer he'd get out to the lake in the back yard to fish. He was active in our neighborhood association and always willing to help out a friend or neighbor. He wasn't the kind of dad to go out and play with a kid in the back yard, and he had a temper-- but he was also my role model for how to grow up.

At the time, I was reading Iron John by Robert Bly and other books about the men's movement, and I was searching for my own understanding of what it meant to be a man. I was also reading How to Make an American Quilt by Whitney Otto, and I liked the way she constructed interconnected stories-- like pieces of a patchwork quilt-- that added up to something larger.

But I didn't really understand the stories I wanted to tell until I read about an event in Hallandale, Florida, the town next door to where I lived. Every year at Halloween a group of local men, all anonymous, decorated an outhouse with political slogans and delivered it to City Hall. A festival had grown up around the event.

I transported that event to a little town called Stewart's Crossing, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. It's very much like Yardley, the town where I grew up. And the men in the story are a lot like the men I saw around me-- working guys with a commitment to family and community.

I took the first story in the book, "Chuck - 1963," to the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference, where I got some great advice. One savvy author pointed me toward Freud's connection between excrement and money, and that helped me crystallize what Chuck's problems were, and why he was motivated to start the gang. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

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Reviewed in the United States on November 19, 2010
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