In the Fall of 2000, three months after I graduated from the Bowling Green State University Undergraduate Creative Writing Program, I had a lot of memories and a lot of free time. This was before I had children, a wife, and a job that required one second more than 40 hours a week. I wanted to make sure I captured it all before I lost it. So I committed to writing a novelized version of the people and events of my freshman year in college, that pivotal year that would do more to influence my becoming a productive citizen than any other year of my life.
But I needed a driving story to encapsulate the characters and episodes that I wanted to make sure I captured. At this time, I was undergoing a political awakening as well--immersing myself in texts like The Law by Bastiat, The Mainspring of Human Progress by Henry Grady Weaver and The Ascent of Man by Jacob Bronowski, all amazing humanist texts that spoke to me of man's ability to achieve social justice and technological advancement for our species. It was an exciting time to be writing. We still had a year before 9/11 would happen, when our civilization would descend into a madness fueled by an economy of war. There was a lot of hope but still a lot of social injustice and this is where i decided to plant the flag for this story.
Being a huge fan of The Godfather, I liked the idea of a group of young men bound together by honor and outlaw justice and I wanted to include the ritualistic use of marijuana as an agent that would bind the group tighter together over time. I also liked the idea of the protagonist becoming lost in the delusion of being a lovelorn knight of chivalry but who was completely lost in finding his true effectiveness in the world. And, ultimately, I wanted to take away the world he had built for himself over the year and watch him disintegrate and come back together from a reflective perspective in the future. I wanted the reader to get a little bit of the man he became out of this time of magic and loss.
Also, I didn't want to create a fictional campus. I wanted it to be set in the sleepy Northern Ohio town of Bowling Green and on the campus of Bowling Green State University because I think it's a pretty wonderful place that gave me a protective bubble in which to flex my creativity and my talent, to very productive ends. I met professors and fellow students there who would become my friends and teachers for life--people I still look to for advice and solace. I consider it one of the joys of my life to be able to watch these dear friends of mine grow older with me and I wanted to capture the environment that made that happen at BGSU.
And the title--typically I get asked about why I chose this title--Are these guys rapists ? Absolutely not, quite the opposite. "Take the rape" was a saying that went around that year and it basically means suck it up and take it like a man. It's absolutely insensitive and cavalier and unfeeling and if you aren't experiencing all of those emotions at some point during your freshman year of college (and many, many more) then you aren't doing it right. Plus, losing one's best friend leaves you little else to do but suck it up, take it in and move on. Hopefully it makes you a better person and that was my hope for this protagonist.
Now, in going back through to finalize the format and punctation and clean up some of the flow (I admit to chopping whole sections in a couple places that just made me cringe), I was astounded at how far I've come as a reader since the time I wrote this book, now nearly 13 years ago. And, of course, being a better reader makes you a better writer as the dictum goes. But I also surprised myself with some of the choices I made and there are more than a couple lines that I am proud to have written and forgotten having written, like a gift left wrapped and removed from memory that one suddenly stumbles upon.
I don't think I would be capable of writing this book today as it was written thirteen years ago which underscores the good judgement I had in getting it down on paper when I did. After all, someday never comes. So for those who appreciate my writing and are willing to invest a little time and money in this tome, I am eternally grateful. And for those who helped inspire any of the characters or scenes in the novel, you have my ever loving respect and gratitude for letting me walk beside you in this life and hopefully we shared enough laughter to make the whole thing worth it.
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