“Bent Dead In Beloit”

Finishing Bent Dead in Beloit is like finishing a slice of pizza that makes you first think you are in oregano and tomato sauce heaven.

Then something happens.

With eyes closed and smiles of sausage and mushroom dreams, you remember why you are so full. You didn’t have a slice. There was a whole pizza pie here.

Bent Dead in Beloit is the whole pizza pie. It’s flat out entertaining. Infused with an ironic affection for the people and the place of the story. You read this book and you find yourself entertained by a character eating tater tots. In this book, there is a cat who is more interesting than most humans in most other books. In this book, there are plot twists you won’t see coming. You read this book and you appreciate the fact than you are in the hands of a master craftsman.

But what makes the book go from slice to full pizza pie is something more. The author, a distinguished professor of English, has spent a lifetime surrounded by literary giants. He’s guided countless young minds to answer questions like “What was Wallace Stevens talking about?’ Or exclamations like “Oh, that’s what Hemingway meant!”

I was one of those young minds. Joined in community with other lovers of literature. Wanting to be a writer. I really didn’t know what that meant. But I knew I wanted it.

I remember, not long after leaving Beloit College, sitting at the grave of Thomas Wolfe in Asheville North Carolina and thinking, “with writers this magnificent, why bother? Hasn’t everything worth saying already been said? Who am I to presume I can write?”

Those questions came back to me reading this book.

Because running just under the surface of this quiet, fun detective story were some very true messages on friendship, on deception, fantasy and what it means to be part of a community.

There is no instruction book to life. But if you’re a writer or a reader, you are a member of a larger community.

And if what you write is true, not factual, but true, if someone reads it and listens to your story; then I have my answer to the questions posed at Wolfe’s grave. We in community keep telling and listening to stories because that’s who we are. That’s our community. At our best, we can all tell and listen to stories that matter.

Professor McBride has spent a lifetime in our community.

In Bent Dead in Beloit, it shows.

10 Responses to ““Bent Dead In Beloit””

  1. paulhaider1974 Says:

    Tom McBride has a book that I should buy? I will be going to Amazon after replying here with the first post. In three days from now, I will be in Durham, North Carolina to be reunited with a friend who I met for the first time in Clint McCown’s Creative Writing class during September of 1993 at Beloit College. In fact, I have seen this friend since the wedding of two Beloiters in October of 1997. It was Steve and Lisa Wright who were the other great professors of English Literature and Creative Writing at Beloit College. I can’t wait to read Tom McBride’s news book. Thanks! Paul

  2. chicagoguy14 Says:

    PAUL–You’ll love it!

  3. Tom Dickinson Says:

    The title alone is enough to reel me in, but your rave review makes it “must reading” Roger! Is this available on line somewhere or through the College bookstore?

    Thanks for reading the book and writing the review…I presume that’s a whole Domenico’s pizza you’re talking about? Nothing better!


    • chicagoguy14 Says:

      TD–Domenico’s was the hidden message under all of it! You can get the book easily on amazon.It really is this good. And you’ll be amused by the name of one of the main characters.

  4. Tom Cordle Says:

    A wonderful tribute. I, too, have fond memories of college profs who introduced me to some of the great works. There’s nothing like a good book, though I’m mostly a reader of non-fiction these days. I remember reading David McCullough’s “Truman”, that went close to a thousand pages, and I was sorry to see it end.

    Alas, I don’t read books much anymore; I suppose in the back of my mind I suspect I may not live long enough to finish one :-).

    • chicagoguy14 Says:

      TC-The Truman book prompts the memory of reading Robert Caro’s massive volumes. As to finishing books today, I’d recommend you get moving and start reading because you have to stick around so we can keep watch on all the idiots that are now in charge!

  5. Naomi de Plume Says:

    “with writers this magnificent, why bother?” – I just had this thought last night as I started the Margaret Atwood book I’d checked out. But I’m glad you bother, ChiGuy, because I love reading you

  6. chicagoguy14 Says:

    Yeah Thomas Wolfe was not the last time I had that thought. And I’m impressed with the Atwood! I’ve never attempted reading her. Thank you so much for the kindness. It comes across even on the internet!

  7. Tom Cordle Says:

    If we’re talking about Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, I read it and found it deeply disturbing and chilling – and that was before Trump. I also recommend some older insightful works from some great writers – In Search of Excess by Graef Crystal, The Reckoning by David Halberstram, and Paddy Chayeffsky’s brilliant writing for the movie Network, in particular the so-called Jensen Speech. All these prophetic pieces came out in 1977. These authors not exposed the present, but predicted the future with uncanny accuracy. Let us hope Atwood’s book remains a work of fiction.

  8. chicagoguy14 Says:

    I’ve never read it but it sure seems like it could be non-fiction on any given day.

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