By J. Patrick Redmond
James Jones often said that what a writer does is he fools with the facts. In his second novel, Some Came Running, inspired by his hometown of Robinson, Illinois, Jones shines a light into the dark undercurrent of hypocrisy and religious bigotry in the fictional town of Parkman, Ill. And, in doing so, he angered many people in Robinson. He fooled with their facts. To this day, what remains of the old guard, at the mere mention of Some Came Running, still turn up their noses and purse their lips. I imagine dinner conversations at the country club in which the name “James Jones” is whispered, as Midwesterners tend to do when uncomfortable, like saying cancer or homosexual. I am a Midwesterner. I understand them. I know my people.
I met Kaylie Jones, the daughter of James Jones, in March of 2010 at Books and Books in Coral Gables, Florida, during her book tour for Lies My Mother Never Told Me. I told her I was born and raised in Vincennes, Indiana, just across the Wabash River from Robinson, that my family had been in the restaurant business in my hometown for over a half-century. I told her my story. “Nothing has changed in almost 60 years,” she said. “My father wrote about the same thing.” She advised me to read Some Came Running.
My novel, Some Go Hungry, which comes out May 3, 2016, is an extension of the same hypocrisy and religious bigotry Jones wrote about so long ago. A young man perceived to be gay is murdered; his body disposed of in a farm field drainage ditch—his hometown apathetic. It was just a gay guy they seemed to say. Twenty years after the murder, a restaurant family finds itself embroiled in a similar battle, not of their making, with a youth pastor at the local fundamentalist church.
I, too, fooled with the facts. In Some Go Hungry the fictional community of Fort Sackville, IN, shares the same sort of soil, the same puritan code as Parkman, Ill. And I’m certain, just like James Jones, in some hometown circles my name will also be whispered. There is something about shedding light on hypocrisy and religious bigotry that still angers a great many people. But I am honored to be in Jones’ company, and if it weren’t for him and his daughter Kaylie, we might all still be sitting in the dark.
J. Patrick Redmond was born and raised in southern Indiana and recently returned to his home state after sixteen years of living in South Florida. He has an MFA in creative writing and literature from Stony Brook University in Southampton, New York. He is a contributing blogger for the Huffington Post, and his writing has appeared in the NOH8 Campaign blog, the Southampton Review, and in the Barnes & Noble Review’s Grin & Tonic. He is also the 2012 recipient of the Deborah Hecht Memorial Prize in Fiction. Some Go Hungry (Kaylie Jones Books, 2016) is his first novel.
Some Go Hungry, an e-first book also available in paperback, will be available in May 2016 from Akashic Books, Amazon and at independent book stores.