When listing my favorite writers, my husband comes second, then Ousmane Sembène, Carlos Fuentes, Assia Djebar, and Beryl Markham. It’s impossible to list every author I admire and can’t get enough of, so I just toss out whichever names come to mind at the time.
But my husband is always second. And the name I always put first, and I know my husband doesn’t mind, is my father, Lewis Horton.
A few months ago my Dad sent me an article from his local paper written about his recent publication of a short story in an anthology called Big Water. He has one whole shelf of a bookcase filled with anthologies and magazines that he’s been published in over the years.
But that shelf is not the reason I list him first.
I have watched him practice his craft since my earliest memories. Every evening he would retire to his bedroom where he had a desk and a typewriter (now he has a computer and an office in his home). He would be in there for at least three hours.
A few years ago he finally had his first book published: Escape From Mexico. It is a memoir of his adventure on a weekend leave in Mexico while he was in the US Army. It is a funny and exciting story, so well written that at the end, when he is describing his escape from a Mexican prison, I couldn’t help wondering if he made it out alive, even though I knew perfectly well he was sitting at home the very moment I was reading it! I admire him so much for teaching me that even if it takes 20 or 30 years, you can get published.
And now, after over five years of trying to sell his second book, he has again succeeded. I don’t even know the title yet, but I will definitely post an update when it gets closer to publication.
He is also my favorite writer because when I read his stuff, it is a guaranteed laugh. I’m not sure if other people find it as gut-bustingly hilarious as I do, because they don’t have the added advantage I have of being able to hear his voice and see the facial expressions he would be using when telling the story. Reading his work is never just me in my own head digesting meaning; it has visual and audio effects as well, which makes for a lot of fun. Any sense of humor I have I attribute to his example and influence.
I got a lot of great stuff from my mother as well, just as good but in a whole other realm, interests such as cooking and baking, sewing, gardening, mothering, and having faith. I owe her just as big.
But when I see his picture in that newspaper clipping, holding up a book in which yet another of his stories has been published, and when I hear that, finally, he will have another book on the shelves, I am proud that I have a father who had a dream, went for it, and continues to pursue his craft and explore his talent. I hope I have inherited at least some of his determination, and that I can be even half as successful.