You Can Go Home Again”
Author: John Fitzgerald
Publisher: Self-published through CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, North Charleston, S.C., owned by amazon.com
Clarks Summit native John Fitzgerald fondly remembers his younger years in Clarks Summit and a group of friends with whom he carried on an annual tradition for decades. In his second novel, Fitzgerald, 68, a retired plastics-company founder and president, creates a fictional group, based on his own friends, who meet annually at a traditional Thanksgiving breakfast before the holiday football game. The story follows the changes the friends go through over the years, from the tumultuous years of the 1960s, beginning in their late teens, to 2009.
Fitzgerald lives in Cincinnati and is the father of three children. His wife died about six years ago. He is getting remarried in April.
TL: What is your book about?
John Fitzgerald: It’s kind of a saga based on true events, crazy events. It’s kind of a story of baby boomers. In 1963, when it starts, it’s right after President Kennedy was assassinated. In Clarks Summit at the time, there was a Thanksgiving breakfast sponsored by a group. They would rent the Shadowbrook, charge $10 or something for a buffet and open bar. Friends would meet at the State Street Grill (the night before) then go to the breakfast the day of the football game.
On Vietnam, there is a description from a veteran’s viewpoint. Danny Fredrick is in a band. He has an opposing viewpoint. It wasn’t insulting. I tried to be fair about that.
To me, the book was kind of like a scene, a painting where people would look at this scene and notice different things. One of the things it talked about was in Northeastern Pennsylvania, if you had political connections, family connections, you could get a job.
Also, one of the emotional parts is the death of one character’s wife. I tried to go through what it’s really like for someone with cancer. A third emotional part is one of the character’s daughters was in jail. The rest of the book, there’s a lot of laughs in it.
TL: How much is autobiographical?
JF: Much of it is. When I was younger, I was a little notorious in town. I spent a night in the poky. I was in the paratroopers in Vietnam. I married a girl from Marywood, settled down and had three children.
TL: What kind of response have you gotten from people here?
JF: I’ve gotten phone calls saying, “You better never come back here.” I haven’t seen anyone who was mad at me. They would call me and tell me someone else was mad.
TL: Why did you opt to self-publish?
JF: It just got frustrating getting rejections all the time. I enjoy doing it. If it’s good, people will pick it up and read. Also, they’ll learn something.