– April 26th, 2013 by Kyle Harris –
Author Ernest Hebert talks about his latest novel
Award-winning novelist and Professor of English at Dartmouth College, Ernest Hebert presented his most recent book, Never Back Down April 18 in Susan Colgate Cleveland Library.
Herbert, a French Canadian, talked about his history, his family, and how he decided to write about the working man. Herbert’s main character in his new book, Jack Landry, is a young man living in Keene and dealing with his opportunity to be a talented baseball player amid the town’s working-class reality.
The character’s inspiration is both fictional, and part autobiographical. Herbert puts part of his life in the story including family members in his story such as Jack Landry’s best friend’s name, which is the same as Herbert’s father’s name.
Herbert said, “I wanted to pay homage to my father who was a working man, as well as all the workingmen in America who built America. I also wanted to shed a different light on workingmen because they were not all alcoholics like many stereotype them to be.”
During the reading of a chapter in Never Back Down, Herbert touched on the different ethnic backgrounds such as Irish or French and how they all change their heritage to be what society believes as American. Herbert himself talks about how he stopped speaking French during his first year of school to be more like everyone else.
Herbert believes he excels in writing about the working man, “Writing about a working man, it’s the world I really know.” Herbert has worked in a factory when he was 16 years old and has attained a multitude of job experiences since then, including the military.
Never Back Down is Herbert’s tenth book, many of which are all fiction. Herbert gives some advice on how to write fiction as he says it needs, “Some element of believability, but moveable and enough that it couldn’t be real life.”
Although Herbert has been a writer for some time, he mentions that he plans on retiring from teaching in the future. “I started out wanting to be a painter, but I wrote and story one time and found out I was really good at writing so I went in that direction.”
When Herbert retires from teaching, he plans on devoting himself to writing, “I want to do that until it takes me to the bone yard.”
“I am interested in how we live two different lives, our interior life, the one in our head, and the exterior life, which is reality. I love to write about moments where these lives come in conflict with each other,” Herbert says explaining the types of conflicts in stories he likes to write about.
Herbert in the end describes himself to the audience, “I am a maker of things. I make stuff, and this is my identity.” Herbert then talks about success in relation to identify, “It seems some think you have to go away from your home town for success or to find your identity. I think this is why social media is so important to society because it helps them find their identity I guess.”