Preserving a memory in the pages of a bookBy writing them into his debut novel, Jim Trevis kept his parents close
By: Nathan Hansen, Rosemount Town Pages
Jim Trevis doesn’t have his parents around anymore, but he takes some comfort in knowing that when he misses them the most he can just reach for his bookshelf.
Trevis, who grew up in Rosemount and graduated from Rosemount High school, wrote Walter and Marie Trevis into his first novel, A Mile of Dreams.
The likeness is not perfect. The couple in Trevis’ novel has only one child, and their marriage is going through a rough patch. In reality, Trevis has seven brothers and sisters, and his parents still held hands even after decades of marriage. But there are enough other details in there about the routine on the family farm where Trevis grew up or about his parents’ traits that the likeness is clear to friends and relatives who have read the book. His siblings have told him their father lives on in the story.
It was a long journey to get to this point. Trevis was 26 when he started writing a book about a farm boy who had to overcome his parents’ objections to his wishes to run track. He pictured it as a story about an underdog overcoming the odds and winning over his parents.
He didn’t finish the book, though. He had a family of his own. He raised children. And a funny thing happened: he started to identify a lot less with the teenager and a lot more with the parents. When Trevis finally returned to the story, which he finished at age 48, it was a different kind of novel.
“It turned into something I never really intended,” he said. “I wanted to write a story like Rocky. Then it turned into a story about a family.”
It turned into a story about his family.
Finally finishing that story was emotional for Trevis, and he wanted to share the finished product. When he couldn’t interest any publishers in the book he decided to self-publish. When he brought the first copy to his parents’ house, he walked in the door to find his father, who by that point was battling leukemia, with a $20 bill in his hand. He wanted to give his son his start as a published author.
“He said, ‘Jim, I want to start you on your way. I’m not going to take that book until you take this $20,’” Trevis said.
Walter Trevis only made it about halfway through the book before he died, but it was clear he was touched. He told his son the story took him back 40 years, “to happier times.”
A copy of A Mile of Dreams is buried in Walter Trevis’ casket.
Trevis has only sold about 500 copies of his book, which is available at amazon.com. He’d like more people to read it. He’s written a second novel since finishing the first one, but this one is special to him.
“I want more people to know what my folks were like,” he said. “There are so many people in Farmington and Rosemount who knew them.”
It’s his way of helping his parent live on. Even it is only on the bookshelf.