There was a war at home that Michael Patton, along with his mother and siblings, couldn’t avoid. Michael’s father was an alcoholic capable of terrorizing his household when his mood dictated. As time has elapsed and family members have predeceased him, Michael is the last witness to give voice to his father’s abuse. The old man, as Michael and his brother occasionally referred to him, may be gone but the ache still lingers.
Michael’s parents were children of the Great Depression. They grew up in similar impoverished households. The couple would marry in their teen years. Patton’s father Ernest would serve with distinction in World War II, but the experience changed Ernest and left him with undiagnosed PTSD. Michael’s mother, Marjorie, bore the brunt of Ernest’s emotional and physical abuse but not without getting in a word edgewise or taking the kids for a brief period to escape his wrath.
The household the Pattons shared was quaint—a trailer in a trailer park. The confined space exacerbated the problem when Ernest arrived home in a drunken and belligerent state. Michael and his siblings dreaded these moments, but they stood as a unified front against their dad’s tyranny. The Patton children sought refuge in the outdoors and at school. One by one, Michael’s sisters and brother grew up and moved out. By the time Michael went to college, he and his father’s interactions grew increasingly tense. Years of mistreatment had taken its toll on Michael and his mother, leading to an irrevocable split with Ernest.
At its core, Infertile Ground is a story about survival. Michael and his mother, brother, and sisters suffered the slings and arrows of Ernest “Red” Patton and emerged forever scarred. Michael’s moving memoir is a reconciliation with the painful past and an attempt to move forward. Each chapter dives into various points in Michael’s life, and while many interactions with his father are fraught with anxiety, the love Michael shares for the rest of his family is apparent and palpable. The abusive nature of Ernest is contrasted with the resilient attributes of his mother. While certain moments Michael recalls are tough to get through, they are often complemented by humorous and loving moments with other members of his family. This is a book that serves as an emotional catharsis but will strike a chord with others who have experienced similar circumstances. This is a book that satisfies on multiple levels and proves very rewarding.
|Author||Michael L Patton|
|Page Count||251 pages|
|Bookshop.org||Buy this Book|
|Category||Biographies & Memoirs|