Parkersburg Catholic grad pens novel with character from West Virginia
PARKERSBURG — Al Griswold, a 1973 graduate of Parkersburg Catholic High School, hopes to have his second fiction novel published next month.
A resident of Port Hueneme, in Ventura County, Calif., Griswold made stops in Parkersburg and Charleston in December while visiting with his mother, Eileen, in Dayton, Ohio. While in Charleston, Griswold met with his friend lawyer Harry Bell, who owns AHMdigital, about marketing the novel Griswold is writing.
Griswold works for the Department of the Navy as a scheduler for bomb/missile/gun tests that take place over the Pacific Ocean in the Point Mugu Sea Range in California.
The lead character in Griswold’s newest novel, “FFF” — with the Fables and Foibles of Fearless Frankie Fubar displayed below the title — is Frank Jenkins, who was born in West Virginia and raised in coal company towns in the southern part of the state.
Griswold says of Jenkins: “Sadly, his father passed away from black lung disease when the boy was only 14, and his mother valiantly struggled to give Frank a shot at a good life. Flash forward to 2017, and Frank is an impoverished old man living in a rundown trailer park in south Oxnard, California. He had his only son at age 50 but is now divorced.”
After living many years in Malibu and working a relatively lucrative job there, Frank is now struggling to make a living, help raise his 12-year-old son and find some way to keep alimony payments going to his ex-wife, Griswold said of the lead character in the book.
“Lacking sufficient funds to make ends meet, with prospects looking grim, Frank is trying to reinvent himself as a (late in the game) standup comedian in the ultra-competitive Southern California area,” Griswold said. The book will take the reader on a wild ride as Frank deals with depression, a colorful past, an ex-spouse and the highs and lows involved with telling homemade jokes in front of live audiences, he said.
Griswold expects his novel to be released by late February.
Although literary fiction, the novel is based on some real-life experiences, he said.
Triple-F is the performing moniker Jenkins uses for his standup comedy act. He wears a black T-shirt with three white F’s adorning the front.
Griswold performed as FFF at a half-dozen shows at clubs in the Los Angeles area, he notes.
“Those experiences, though not known at the time, went a long way toward inspiring this book,” he said.
Griswold has a wealth of experiences to draw on for inspiration in his novels.
He served in the U.S. Air Force in Thailand and England, and graduated from Florida State University. Griswold said he has held many jobs, including digging ditches as a plumber’s helper, waiting tables, driving limos in Los Angeles ( “lots of stories from that”), substitute school teacher in South Florida, TV/radio producer and broadcaster (Tallahassee, Fla., worked with Florida State University and local ABC affiliate), and air traffic controller for the Department of Defense and Federal Aviation Administration.
His parents, Ace and Eileen, operated the Parasol gift store in Grand Central Mall in the early 1970s. Al said he enjoyed playing football and golf at Parkersburg Catholic High School his senior year.
“My fondest memories of the Mountain State, freshened upon each visit, are the great outdoors and down home friendly people who are always nice as pie,” Griswold said. “I have fond remembrances of West Virginia.”
Griswold said his first novel, of 540 pages, published in 2014, “Swim a Crooked Line,” is centered on a farming family in Nebraska that is trying to hold onto a cherished, traditional lifestyle that is under assault not only in the fields but in the neighboring small town as well.
Issues such as corporate takeovers of family farms, GMO crop manipulation, maltreatment of livestock and other battles are being fought by the Jenkins family. In the town of Cordry, a big box store called the Buy Golly Mart has moved in and pretty much decimated what was previously a quaint yet functional downtown, Griswold said.
The link to his book on Amazon is https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NJ4BKQW