by Donnell Wilson
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HYPOCRITES IN HIS MIDST: A Story About Flawed Human Beings by Donnell Wilson is the fast moving, dialogue-rich account of Wilton Latso (Willy Lost Soul), a hard-driving, hard-drinking and angry street brawler from the St. Louis housing projects of the forties and fifties. Based on a true story, Wil is a tough guy with a heart who has a hard time controlling his Irish temper. He learns that his pugnacious yet caring nature forces him into a lifetime deciphering the dichotomies between violence all around him versus the platitudes of organized religion and governmental values he formerly respected. Wil juggles a young adulthood on the streets fraught with suicides, petty crimes, rape, and marijuana-dealing with his constant attempt to keep food on the table and a roof over the heads of his five children, four of whom were born by the time he reaches twenty-one.
The son of evangelical Christian parents, Wil rejects the hyperreligiousity of his Pentecostal upbringing but retains a lifetime motto to never break his word or lie to a friend. Married to fifteen-year old Evelyn when he was only seventeen, Wil is too proud to allow his family to become homeless. He struggles to balance his desire to hang out with his street gang friends versus attending trade school and learning the hard-working life of an auto body repairman, an occupation which only provides an arena for constant drinking. The economic realities of raising five children ultimately cause Wil to bury himself in his work and bankrupts him of the time necessary to nurture his wife and children and form close, loving relationships with them. Or did working hard, necessary to keep a family of seven afloat, also become a substitute for Wil to avoid closeness with his wife and kids? Did his overly religious, worry-wart mother who raised Wil with no show of affection and hammered him repeatedly with the need to be “washed in the blood of Jesus” contribute to his inability to form healthy relationships and foster a tendency to binge drink? Did his ineptitude in showing Evelyn affection cause her to seek attention and love from Wil’s closest friends? Wil’s coming to grips with these realities ultimately end in divorce, but not before he tries to do away with his wife several times and then ultimately moves his entire family out of Missouri to Colorado with no job to waiting for him. His journey through the farewell parties of best friend Merlin’s suicide in the back of Evelyn’s car and his bipolar, former-minister brother Darwin’s suicide by a gunshot to the head is gripping, poignant and makes for a page-turning read.
Forced to examine life’s hypocrisies and the values that affect his existence, Wil turns to writing as a road to self-discovery and ultimately deciphers his considerable difficulty revealing his true feelings for his children, whom he desperately loves. The honesty and hard-work ethic he learns from his father serves Wil very well throughout his lifetime. He rejects the racist views of his southern upbringing in favor of a more liberal political viewpoint that champions society’s hard-working middle class. Wilton Latso is the voice of the independent, liberal working man who gives no credence to the uber-wealthy right-wing politicos that threaten to destroy the middle class with unfair legislation nor to the crimson-robed figureheads of organized religion who paternalistically debase women and attempt to control the masses with their self-righteous dogma. HYPOCRITES IN HIS MIDST: A Story About Flawed Human Beings is a moving tale that resonates with the issues of our times while recounting one man’s journey through great pain but ultimate survival through laughter and understanding. As Wil says: It’s not where you start out. It’s the distance you travel.
ISBN: 9781935689867 (ePub)
Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Religious
Biographies & Memoirs > Memoirs