After living in Tennessee, Virginia, and New England for the past 30 years, Dick Matthews says he moved back to Illinois to finish a book about growing up here.
Dick and his wife Pam bought a home in Carbondale in this past fall and, recently, his book, ““Ain’t Good for a Pup to Run with the Dogs”,” was published by Liongrass Editions.
“Writing about my youth in Rossville and Hoopeston and especially about my father,” Matthews says, “made me want to return to Illinois. That, and the friends I made in Carbondale during graduate school, brought me back here to finish a book I started four years ago.”
Matthews, who was president of his senior class, graduated from Hoopeston High School in 1958. Though his parents owned several businesses in Rossville during the late 1940s, they moved to Hoopeston in 1950 and bought a grocery store on Hoopeston’s north side, running it as Matthews Grocery until retiring in 1970.
“Ain’t Good for a Pup to Run with the Dogs,” Matthews says, is largely a tribute to his father, who came to Illinois from Tennessee in the early 1930s to escape the hardscrabble poverty of his youth.
Matthews, who took an MA degree in American Literature at SIU in 1968 and taught at Centralia’s Kaskaskia College for 16 years, attributes his love of language to his father’s rich Tennessee vernacular.
“Though my dad never finished the seventh grade, his colorful use of language,” Matthews said, “helped me become a writer.”
He calls his book the “repayment of numerous debts,” not the least a long-overdue recognition of the many heretofore unacknowledged gifts he received from his youth in Rossville and Hoopeston, and especially from his father, Bob Matthews.
Matthews, a freelance journalist and former owner of a Massachusetts newspaper, has published stories in the New York Times, The Boston Globe, and scores of other newspapers and magazines. He’s also produced three books: “Notes from an Innkeeper’s Journal” in 2008; “Hell is So Green” in 2012; and now “Ain’t Good for a Pup to Run with the Dogs,” about his coming of age in Illinois.
The gist of the book, he said, can be summed up by a quote from Mark Twain:
“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”
For more information about the book, Matthews invites people to write him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 618-490-1161.