So I will call myself Tom Burton, or Thomas Burton, as the name would appear on the novels I write. I am too difficult for some readers and my sentences are sometimes more than statements. Many readers are comfortable only with the simple sentences, and prefer books that reward a belief in the happy ending and the pot at the end of the rainbow, even as the rainbow retreats and those who follow are footsore. There is no ending, happy or otherwise, only a pause.
I live with my wife, herself a novelist; together we make a decent living. Except for the children, we would make a better living. But we eat, pay the bills and see our way clear to having the leaks in the roof fixed — or at least located. We consider ourselves lucky to do what we want in the place where we want to do it. We have not seriously considered divorce, but sometimes after a few martinis we shout and pick at old scabs. My wife once hurled at me a plate of salt mackerel and boiled potatoes, a favorite meal until then. Months later we still discovered elusive bits of fish set in potato on the iron railing leading down into the dining room, on the rungs of chairs, and clinging to the spines of certain books, Peterson’s Field Guide to the Birds and Pipes’s Russia under the Old Regime, each discovery a reminder of the fruitlessness of passion. Ordinarily we laugh and talk and worry about the children, like anybody else. In the past, our sons have troubled us. They didn’t seem to fit into the world as it was, and we blamed ourselves for setting a poor example and not taking the business world seriously. There are so many people out there in that world it is better to know how to get along with them, to learn their ways and how to trick them as they know how to trick each other.
Our daughter gives surprisingly little trouble; she and her husband have so far kept their trouble to themselves. That may change tomorrow. Things have a way of changing, I find. That fact keeps us on our toes.
Thomas Savage was born in 1915 in Salt Lake City. His literary career spans five decades and thirteen novels, most notably The Power of the Dog (1967), named “the year’s best novel” by the San Francisco Chronicle, and The Sheep Queen (originally published in 1977 under the title I Heard My Sister Speak My Name). His most recent novel, The Corner of Rife and Pacific, was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award, won the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award, and was selected by Publishers Weekly as one of the fifteen best novels of 1988. He was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1980. [Hatchette Group]
Thomas Savage died July 25, 2003.
“Mr. Savage’s wife, the former Elizabeth Fitzgerald, a novelist, died in 1989. He is survived by a son, Russell Y., of Fort Madison, Iowa; a daughter, Elizabeth S. Main of Virginia Beach; nine grandchildren; and eleven great-grandchildren.”