This blog is about my recent writing projects, which are all focused on the lives, personalities and motivations of individuals, some obscure and some well-known. My interest is in the how and why their lives took the course it did.
My first completed book is Examined Lives (from Socrates’ dictum The unexamined life is not worth living). It focuses on how a competent, vivacious woman (my mother) ended up having a lobotomy by Walter Freeman, the public champion of lobotomies in the mid-20th century, and its effects on her daughter (me). The picture above is of me on the main staircase of the mental institute where my mother spent time after, not before, her lobotomy.
Four other projects are in the works. The first, on which I am currently working, Coming to Amerika, is based on thousands of pages of family letters and documents which trace the lives of my ancestors from 1850 to 1950. Usually such letters are pedestrian, but to my surprise this family of sometimes eccentric individuals wrote lively letters that engage the reader. One of the later letters in particular reads like an Annie Proulx story and I have included it among my blogs.
The second is a biography of Montgomery Ward, the inventor of mass mail order (which has transmuted today into Internet commerce) and the fierce protector of the lakefront for public use in downtown Chicago. His legal battles, which went all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court, still govern use of park land in the Loop. He was notoriously tight-lipped about his life and researching it is an enjoyable challenge.
Two others are just in the formative stages. A Soldier Called Henry Smith is about some of the soldiers named Henry Smith, both Union and Confederate, who served during the Civil War. Their fates fascinate me, and hopefully future readers, on a very personal level. The fourth involves no research at all on my part. It is the story of my husband and my adventure in establishing a small lavender farm in southwest Michigan.
I hope that one or all of these projects holds your interest and in some small way enriches your life.