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F.N. Wright

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F.N. Wright, Mid-Illinois Newspapers (Thursday, May 18, 1989)

F.N. Wright (December 16, 1940 - March 9, 2012) was an American author, poet and artist. He was the author of several novels (The Whorehouse, 1977, Flight to Freedom, 1986 and The Music Sluts, 2005). Wright's art and writing have been widely published online and in print.


[edit] Biography

[edit] Early Life and Education

Wright was born and raised in Mattoon, an agricultural community, in South Central Illinois. At an early age he was encouraged to explore art. Wright credits his first grade teacher, Edna Windau, for instilling an interest in photography.

As an adolescent, Wright was bored with school. If his teachers couldn’t find him in class they checked the library. Wright said he learned more there, surrounded by books, than he did in class. The writing began at a young age. At age 10, Wright and two boys, who were brothers, invented a baseball game and he wrote the sports page for the imaginary game. He also developed the habit of writing vignettes about things that happened during the day from a satiracle point of view.[1] Wright dropped out of school and left home at sixteen and at age seventeen enlisted in the Navy.

[edit] Military Service

In 1958, Wright enlisted for a four-year stint in the Navy. He served with the Naval Amphibious Forces and is a veteran of the Quemoy-Matsu Crisis and the Vietnam War.

"That was a learning process filled with humorous incidents," he said. "When we went overseas we wrote a cruise book with a lot of satire in it. A group of us worked on it."

When he was not overseas Wright was stationed at The Coronado Naval Amphibious Base. At the time, Wright said his art was very bland in that he hadn't found the right muse yet. He soon discovered and was inspired by musicians and poets such as Dylan, Ken Nordine and Gil Scott-Heron (both with and without The Last Poets) and others. "I was hearing the cadence of the street and that led to my interest in poetry though I continued to write mostly prose I was writing more and more poetry and would publish poetry before anything else of mine was published."

[edit] Personal Life and Employment

Wright is the father of two children and a proud grandfather. His marriage ended in the 1960s during the summer of love. "When I left I isolated myself. I was confused and felt guilty. And I didn't want advice from Mom and Dad. It seemed I was always an observer and not a participant. I somehow was always on the sidelines."

Wright said he has refused to vote since 1964 because he won’t support a two-party system that is antiquated. “I won’t vote for the lesser of two evils. I also think our foreign policy is deplorable. We try to Americanize them. We can’t do this. We are too aggressive. And I deplore the plight of the American Indian and why a nation as rich as we are has ghettos.”

In the late 60s, Wright went to work for a chain of record store/head shops called the Wherehouse which would inspire his first novel. He went to work for the Postal Service in 1984.

Wright passed away at his home on March 9, 2012.

[edit] Artwork

His paintings are colorful and whimsical, exploring issues of the human heart and culture. Of his artwork, Wright claims, "I am more primitive than the primitives."

[edit] Literary Career

[edit] The Whorehouse

Wright’s first book, The Whorehouse, was published in 1978. It was about a chain of record stores.

"I had been writing mostly poetry and painting for several years but soon began writing humorous stories about the company to relieve my stress. A girl (Tish Perry) I hired to work in a store I was opening and I fell in love and she started reading my stories. One night she said I had a novel on my hands so I began writing The Whorehouse or what I call the longest letter of resignation in history."

In 1980 The Whorehouse was translated and published in German. Carl Weissner who was Bukowski’s German translator and European agent loved The Whorehouse and compared Wright to Hunter S. Thompson. Weissner sold the book to one of Bukowski's German publishers, obtaining a hefty advance for Wright.

[edit] Music Sluts

Music Sluts is a sequel to Wright's successful first novel The Whorehouse. Wright said Music Sluts is about the hippie generation and discovery, about strays coming in to the city, rock ‘n’ roll music and blues, classics and folk music. “There was a certain snobbishness in the record stores. You couldn’t sell Guy Lombardo or Perry Como.” he said. “Disco sold.”

[edit] Flight to Freedom

His third book, Flight to Freedom, started out to be a love story but ended up as a story about Vietnam.

[edit] Influences


Sometime in the early 60's Wright began combining poetry with art. "Psychedelic" art (mostly in the way of posters and handbills) caught his eye and a friend (after seeing what he was doing) turned him onto Kenneth Patchen. Wright was encouraged to find someone else doing something similar. He eventually began corresponding with the Patchens and this would lead to a lifetime friendship with Miriam after Kenneth passed away not long after they began corresponding.[2]

Wright illustrated the children’s book, Because It’s Good to Keep Things Straight, written by Kenneth Patchen. The book is intended for children, age 5 to 7 and the illustrations include a two-headed horse. “I won’t make a lot of money at this. It is a love project as a tribute to the man who wrote it." said Wright.

[edit] Bibliography

[edit] Select Works Online

[edit] Further Reading

[edit] Interviews

[edit] External Links

[edit] Notes and References

  1. "Former Mattoon resident turned writer leads solitary existence", Mid-Illinois Newspapers (Thursday, May 18, 1989)
  2. Klesko/Wright Interview
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