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The Willoughby Chronicles

December 16, 2009

Watch Ted perform “Feeding the Puppies.”

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The Willoughby Chronicles is a memoir comprised of short – and often very short – stories that chronicle the true-life tales of growing up in my wonderfully bizarre family. Each story is a lot like one of the Polaroid instant pictures my dad used to take all the time, little snapshots, that add up to a whole mosaic of oddity and love when read in this collection. Some of the stories have been published in Boston Magazine and the Boston Sunday Globe magazine, and I also perform the stories at staged readings. Getting to play the part of our family dog, Holly, along with all the other wonderful real life characters in my family, is incredibly fun.

Much of this collection was written over one long, beautiful summer in my cottage overlooking Willoughby Lake, in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. It was my favorite summer. I set everything else aside, and focused each day on trying to tell the absolute truth about all the things I had experienced growing up. I had always told the stories to people to entertain them (i.e. “we thought my brother was the Unabomber”), but there was so much more to the stories than the laugh factor. Unlike books like Mommy Dearest, there were no wire coat hanger horror stories, although through sheer eccentricity my life was certainly in danger on multiple occasions. But seen through my eyes at the time, and even today, it was all about love and family. I’ve tried my best to strip away anything in the stories that might smack of adult commentary, with the exception of The Accidental Guardian – which is more of an epilogue that puts everything in perspective.

When people ask me what it was about, I feel tempted to reply, “What do you think it was about?” Because life isn’t really about anything in particular, is it? We see everything through our own mental lens, and no two of us see the same reality. We jump through mental hoops, in fact, to try to figure out what life is about, but ultimately life is just what happens after you’re born. Add on meaning if that’s what strikes your fancy, or if it helps you through your own life journey. As for me, I am content to simply tell the stories as honestly as possible, and let the meaning jangle out onto the floor like loose change, or candy.

If you are a publisher looking for your next book, or you’re interested in having me perform the stories in your local theater, please contact me. To give you a sense of what the performances are like, I’ve included a video clip of “Feeding the Puppies” that was part of a performance in Lexington, MA, in November 2009, titled Moments That Didn’t Kill Us. Enjoy.