Alden Bigelow, “Norton’s Lament,” at New Dominion October 28

Coming to New Dominion Bookshop:

Alden E.C. Bigelow will present selections from his new novel

Norton’s Lament

Thursday, October 28 at 5:30 PM

Norton’s Lament is the fictional story of a young man coming of age in the second half of the twentieth century.  It is about a man in conflict with the world and with himself, a man in love and hate as he battles recurrent episodes of debilitating depression.

Norton’s story begins with him sitting cross legged in a bedroom of a fraternity house at a small Southern University.  Having been overwhelmed by his first major depression and not knowing where to turn, he is contemplating suicide.  One of his fraternity brothers decides to employ a little tough love by offering him a pistol and daring him to use it.

Norton’s Lament is about how he learns to cope with and manage that disability over time. However, there are many bumps and life lessons along the way, some poignant, some hilarious, some ironic, some both funny and sad. These include a riotous road trip to Florida, and true love discovered.  It also traces his Naval service during the Vietnam War, highlighted by a 30-day stint in the brig.

At one point Norton sinks to the very abyss of depression.  He tries to commit ‘accidental suicide’ by driving his car too fast around a cliff road, but ends up instead in a state mental hospital.  But with a little bit of luck, and a lot of help, he starts the long road back.  Here we see Norton finally come to terms with the full dimensions of his illness.  He begins to understand that in the total context of his life there is always hope, there is dignity, and there can be success on many different levels despite mental illness.

The lesson is that you can learn how to manage your illness, you can have a good life, a relatively independent life; you can love and be loved, give and receive with the best of them.  Beyond entertainment value this is the message of Norton’s Lament.

Depression affects over 9 million Americans at one time and nearly a million of them are college age or younger.  Many of us have been impacted by this disease.  What is generally not known is that depression is chronic. It is a disability that almost never goes away.  In most cases however, it can be managed, and those who suffer from depression can have full and productive lives.  This too is the message of Norton’s Lament, but it is also to remind us that those who are not able to get adequate treatment often become part of the 30,000 suicides in America per year, of which 5,000 are teenagers.

Alden E.C. Bigelow is a writer and semi-retired Advertising Executive.  His other works include, I Have My Reasons, a compilation of poetry and philosophy, Growing Up with Jemima, a book about a young boy growing up with his dog in the 1950s in Charlottesville and Richmond Virginia, and Killing Time in a Small Southern Town, an historical novel set in the tumultuous pre-integration times of the early 1960s.

Bigelow holds a B.A. from California State University of Hayward and Masters Degree in Legal History from The University of Virginia.  He lives in Lake Monticello, Virginia, with his wife and two dogs.  His son and daughter-in-law live in New Jersey with his two delightful grandchildren.

Bigelow does three weekly radio shows on behalf of all the critters at Caring for Creatures, the area’s largest private no kill sanctuary.  A portion of all proceeds from these publications has been dedicated to www.caringforcreatures.org.

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