Kermit Moyer: The Chester Chronicles

February 16, 2010 by  
Filed under Fiction

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978-1579621940 – Hardcover – Permanent Press – $28.00

What a pleasure it was to discover this writer.  The Chester Chronicles is a collection of interlocking stories that serve to create what is essentially a coming-of-age novel.  We are introduced to Chet Patterson as a pre-adolescent and stay with him as he grows unto early manhood.  He is the son of a military man, so at the heart of the book is the peripatetic journey of a budding intellectual, who often does not fit in with the crowd and is always in search of both his internal and his social identity. There are lots of adventures along the way, many having to do with girls and sex, boys and drinking.

There are certainly elements here that will be most familiar to people of a certain age, who lived through the ’50s and ’60s, especially the defining moments of those times.  But as with any good book, the character and his story transcend the specifics of the place and time in which the book is set.   The point is, after all, for us to see him as a person on a journey, and to understand where he has been, and perhaps also, therefore, to understand who he will become.  As the author says of himself and of his character, he is “plagued with Oedipal anxieties and existential doubt, yet nonetheless convinced of his heroic destiny.”  There are several moment in the book that can make the reader laugh out loud, and there are others where it is equally impossible not to deeply feel his pain.  I’d say that’s a pretty good accomplishment for any writer.

In my interview with Kermit Moyer, we talked about some of the autobiographical elements of the book, some of the stories which stood out for me as a reader, as well as some of the characters in the book that affected me the most.  We talked quite a bit about autobiographical fiction and how this book fits into the tradition of fictionalized autobiography and works transformationally both for the author and the reader.  Moyer provides an interesting explanation of his writing which I hope will help introduce new readers to his fine writing.

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