Red Weather

RedWeatherCoverGotham Fiction and Novel Writing teacher Red Weather.  It’s a coming of age tale about a teenage boy in Milwaukee, the son of Latvians who fled their Communist home country in a shipping container filled with hogs.  But you don’t have to be Latvian to identify with this book, about which Time Out New York says: “Toutonghi’s unflinching and hilarious account summons all the tormented urgency of one’s high-school years, when everything feels so fraught with meaning because it actually is.”

Have a look.


My dad, drunk again and singing.

In a previous life of his, my dad dreamed of becoming a country and western singer. The fact that he'd lived this life in a concrete apartment tower in a suburb of Riga, Latvia, seems not to have mattered.

In his dreams of the country and western life, my dad would wear rhinestone-crusted spurs and a black pancake of a Stetson. He'd make his home on the outskirts of Nashville, Tennessee. He'd have a bluetick hound, or perhaps even two bluetick hounds, and at sunset when the light was just so, he'd drink bourbon and mourn the loss of the old American music. He (Rudolfs Balodis, the Lonely Latvian) and his band (the Tragic Trio) would win Grammy after Grammy after Grammy. He would not live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

He never said this explicitly, of course. But I could infer. He would drink the bourbon – always Heaven Hill Kentucky Bourbon – and sing the classics. They'd pour out along with the alcohol, delivered in an impenetrable Soviet accent: Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, Moon Mullican and his Texas Wanderers. And he yodeled – how could he not yodel? His pursed lips will forever be stuck in my mind, meaty and sweaty, clean-shaven to the point of razor burn, laboring over this foreign vocabulary.
Copyright 2006© Pauls Toutonghi.  Reprinted by permission of Crown Publishing Group.  All rights reserved.

For further information about Red Weather and related events, visit: toutonghi.