"T-Rex by the Tail"
Updated 11:50 am, Monday, June 18, 2012
For those familiar with Turpin's column, they know the T-Rex refers to a very specific kind of father figure from the '70s and '80s.
"I found that there is actually a lot of people that identify with growing up in southern California with a hyper-conservative father," Turpin said. "But a big factor in really getting started on this book in earnest was Steve Wood."
Steve Wood, a retired Lietentant of the New Canaan Police Department, died of pancreatic cancer in May of 2011 and Turpin thought he was cut from the same cloth as his father.
"He was fashioned out of the hardest timber. We were good friends and we would go back and forth on politics," Turpin said. "He really reminded me of my dad like he was an old cowboy in some western. They both lived by this highly disciplined code and in certain times that code comes in handy and other times it seems out of date. So I decided to write a book whose main character was like on of those guys."
Turpin said these days, the T-Rex dad has been driven into the hills since society has become more politically correct.
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"So now here I am, a softer version of my old man and it remains to be seen if we have actually evolved or devolved as parents," Turpin said. "Especially when you consider we are preparing kids for a knife fight in a global economy. In many ways, those T-Rex dads are now sitting there in their 80s and they feel as if America is in a moral and social free fall. It's like the greatest generation is slowly fading away."
In the book, the story is centered on a T-Rex dad who has four boys. In the first chapter of the book the father dies and the boys come back to take care of their mother who has early stage dementia.
The setting transfers between flashbacks to the 1970s when the father was in his element, to the present where the boys are trying to deal with his loss.
But don't expect to find too much direct correlation with the character's and Turpin's own life.
"Well, the stories and situations clearly arose from real life events," he said.
"But I was very conscience to write it as fiction. I purposefully tried to mix and match the personalities. Actual characters are amalgams of real life people."
And much like the T-Rex dad himself, don't expect the book to be afraid to tackle issues that land in the realm of being "politically incorrect."
"One of the boys in the story ends up getting involved with the African-American nurse taking care of his mother. So I try to talk about those issues. You might hear a parent from that generation make a racial comment because they were expressing their opinion," Turpin said. "In that generation, they viewed their house as their castle and they were committed to their points of view. They kind of felt like that was the critical soul of democracy."
Turpin published the book through Amazon's self publishing arm called Create Space.
He said he went through traditional publishing means but felt this was the best way to put out the story the way he intended.
"People are going to like it or they're not. You are doing it for the sheer joy of making your case and doing it exactly way you want to do it. Some subset will relate to it," he said. "After writing for six years for the paper, I figured I would do it and if only friends get it, then so be it."
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