Before we commence here, allow me a moment to admit some ambivalence, perhaps even some reservations, about the book whose title bears my name: On the Road with Del & Louise. I’ve read it, and I appreciate the fact that Louise wrote it—she’s the love of my life, and despite what she might think, I’m not hesitant to say that aloud or to write it here. And the book mostly tells the truth—not just the factual truth, but the emotional truth, Louise’s emotional truth, if you consider each of those things as independent entities, which I do.
But each page I read as she printed it up and passed it my way, I had the lingering concern that people might succumb to some erroneous impressions about my role in all of this, about several things related to my role.
“Is this the way you see me?” I asked her at one point—similar questions at other points.
“I see you the way you are, Del,” she said.
“That’s circular reasoning,” I told her. “That’s fallacious reasoning.”
“You’re proving my point,” she said, and she turned back to the typewriter.
In the end, I wasn’t given the opportunity to contribute effectively to the revision process. Ultimately, for better or worse, the stories are what they are.
However, now I’m the one at the typewriter, and I want to say thank you to Ms. Dru Ann here for giving me the kinds of opportunities that were denied me both by Louise and by the folks at Henery Press who’ve been working with her to rush these adventures into press.
First things first, since this is a column about a day in my life, here’s my routine. I get up early generally. I like to see the sun rise when I can because it represents the start of a new day and new possibilities. I read the paper in the morning whenever I can—I’m committed to learning something, to maintaining awareness—and then I strive to put in a hard day’s work, whatever the job is: whether that’s pursuing a college degree (which I earned) or selling real estate or overseeing the stock in a winery warehouse or working in the oil fields or, like now, as I’m writing this, serving at the helm of a dynamic and growing private investigation service.
Excuse me. Someone has been looking over my shoulder. Apparently the rules aren’t entirely equitable concerning who has a say in the revision process. Sharing the helm, I’ve been asked to clarify.
Which returns me to my larger claims here (and I apologize to have derailed again the plans for telling about my day; briefly, I like a robust dinner at the end of the day and I enjoy watching crime movies, not just for the action and suspense but because they’re educational.)
Regarding these larger concerns I’m talking about, allow me to clear up ahead of time a few persistent misconceptions that I’ve seen:
- Louise makes it sounds like I walk around with a thesaurus in my back pocket, searching for four-syllable words—and up. I can’t help it if I appreciate a wide vocabulary. I’m committed not to the biggest word but to the best one.
- My sister is not a bad person, but I understand that plots need drama and conflict.
- I have never purported to be a mastermind criminal, and I wouldn’t allow anyone’s comments in that direction to inflate my ego disproportionately. I merely try to plan extensively, objectively, whenever I can.
- I would not actually have shot all of those people in the Vegas chapel, even in the worst of circumstances. (The words she quoted simply prove, as I said, that the emotional truth and the factual truth are indeed two different things.)
- That Nova I owned was never in the disreputable shape she claims. Nor, however, was it worth as high a price as she ultimately claimed. Fact is, intoxication is never a conducive state for major acquisitions.
- I do indeed know what the word perspicacity means and I did use it correctly in our wedding vows. And not to put too fine a point on it, but if someone’s going to be a writer, they should know how to use a dictionary properly and look up the word themselves before laying out reckless accusations.
Excuse me: My “editor” has informed me that I sound angry. I’m not. I love her and appreciate her very much—proof again, I should emphasize, that even if I can be taciturn (I am), I’m actually not reticent about expressing my emotions. In fact, I think of myself as downright fulsome in that regard.
In short, if you do read the book, realize that there are two sides to every story—many perspectives, in fact. At best, you’d need a triangulation of all those perspectives to really construct the truth of a story and of a person. In the meantime, take everything you read with a grain of salt.
You can read more about Del in On the Road with Del & Louise: A Novel in Stories, published by Henery Press.
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on Friday, September 25 for the chance to win a signed copy of On the Road with Del & Louise. (US entries only, please.) Good luck everyone!
Meet the author
Art Taylor is the author of On the Road with Del & Louise: A Novel in Stories. His short fiction has won two Agatha Awards, a Macavity Award, and three consecutive Derringer Awards; his Agatha Award-winning story “The Odds Are Against Us” is currently a finalist for both the Anthony and the Macavity Awards. A professor at George Mason University, Art writes frequently on crime fiction for the Washington Post and Mystery Scene. (photo courtesy of Evan Michio)