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Purchase The Giant's ChairPurchase The Giant's Chair How does a child of the sixties cope with the modern world? What does a generation that famously didn't trust anyone over 30 do in their forties or fifties? Lansing Author Marc Catone tackles this in his novel, "The Giant's Chair." Protagonist Adam chance is a child of the sixties who saw the Beatles at Shea stadium, was an anti-war activist, went to Woodstock, became a writer and wrote a book about the counter-culture. Thirty-some years later he is middle-aged, divorced and suffering from writer's block.

His therapist suggests keeping a free-form journal, and without the restraints of editors and writing styles he is freed as a writer. He recalls adventures with his childhood friend, Midnight Duke, meeting John Lennon in Central Park and having a pizza with Jim Morrison. He even writes the (fictional) final episode of Star Trek, which he includes in the journal. This is Mr. Catone's second book about the sixties. "As I Write This Letter: An American Generation Remembers the Beatles" was published in 1982 by Greenfield Publications. Now out of print, it was a collection of Beatles fan letters that illustrated the rock group's influence on their generation. The letters were arranged in chapters that showed unique changes in society.

He started writing around fourth grade. He put friends in stories he wrote, using their real names and having them do things. He even named a planet after a friend in a science fiction story. Over the years he has written some articles and stories, but the Giant's Chair is his first novel.

After unsuccessfully submitting the book to traditional publishers over many years, he decided to try publishing it as an e-book about five years ago. At the time e-books were the "coming thing" though they haven't yet become popular, despite experiments by such authors as Stephen King. "So many friends and acquaintances said, 'if you ever have this as a soft cover book I'll buy it, but I don't want to download it as an e-book,'" he says, "so I decided to make it available."

Mr. Catone actually did attend both of the Beatles' Shea Stadium concerts. He says, "It was quite an experience, seeing both of them. It was amazing." He never actually met John Lennon or the Doors or attended Woodstock, as his protagonist does in the novel. "That was probably wishful thinking. My friends ask 'how much of this is you and how much is fiction?' I tell them it's about 30% me and 70% made up." In the book Adam and Midnight go to hear The Doors play at a local High School. That was real. Mr. Catone saw them play just after 'Light My Fire had made them famous. The rumor is that they ate at a pizza joint on Main Street. He used that story when he wrote his characters meeting them there.


The novel was written over a span of years. "The Giant's Chair began in the early 80s. I worked on it for a little while. Then I became a father in the mid-eighties and I didn't write anything for five years. I only had a couple of chapters, and it gathered dust."

But he wasn't finished with it. Ten years later he began working on it again. "I had been through a lot. I had a daughter, and an illness I had overcome. I had worked at Cornell and then left. I had a small book store for a while in Freeville (Second Chance Books). It didn't do well, but during that time period I started writing again. At that point it became much deeper, because I had a lot more reflections, I was ten years older and had gone through a lot of different things."

The Giant's Chair is an actual stone formation in the hills in the Old Quarry Nature Center in Danbury Connecticut, where he grew up. The idea to use it as a centerpiece for the novel together came later. "I was working at Cornell and I used to walk on the trails that led down the hill to the Plantations during lunch hour. On a Fall day and there was something about the way the leaves were on the path that reminded me of walking on the path near the Giant's Chair. All of a sudden I got a little 'aha!' and I thought I would incorporate the Giant's Chair into the story.'

He and his wife moved to Lansing in 1977 to be near his aunt and uncle. He'd visited during college vacations, and liked the area. His Uncle was Sid Mesibov, who wrote a weekly column for the Ithaca Journal called "Oddly Enough" until the end of the 80s. He had been a comedy writer who worked with the Marx Brothers, among others. He encouraged Mr. Catone as a writer and influenced him to include humor in his work. "Sid was a really big influence on my writing. He said, ' If you think you're a writer, you are.'"

Part of the book takes place in Ithaca, and has references to local attractions such as Joe's Restaurant. The style is experimental, with the prose being interrupted by skits and even the Star Trek script. "I had a lot of fun writing this book." The fun continues. For the last five or six years he's been writing a biographical book. Naturally it's about growing up in the 60s.


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