Welcome To Thebes was Glendon Swarthout's one naughty book. It is based upon an actual case of multiple underaged rape which happened in the 1950's in the small town of Lowell, Michigan, a half hour east of Grand Rapids, where the author grew up. Readers might remember Grace Metalious's bestseller from 1956, Peyton Place, which became a hit film, then a sequel novel and TV miniseries, and find literary similarities. But again, this is an example of a fine author taking a true story and fictionalizing it mightily ...
Welcome To Thebes was Glendon Swarthout's one naughty book. It is based upon an actual case of multiple underaged rape which happened in the 1950's in the small town of Lowell, Michigan, a half hour east of Grand Rapids, where the author grew up. Readers might remember Grace Metalious's bestseller from 1956, Peyton Place, which became a hit film, then a sequel novel and TV miniseries, and find literary similarities. But again, this is an example of a fine author taking a true story and fictionalizing it mightily to tie up rough ends into a more dramatic tale.
The scarifying events of Sewell Smith's youth had left him shattered and embittered. On his return to his home town of Thebes, Michigan, morally and financially bankrupt from a writing career in films, these early experiences began to take on a different hue, no less corrosive but illuminating the moral climate of the place. In the background are the sly seduction of a lonel high school girl, the mental derangement and commitment of Sewell's mother, his father's strange death, the boy's malicious acts of vandalism, his flight and Army enlistment, his brilliant war record,his successful novel,his meteoric Hollywood career and his return to Thebes. Fate hands Sewell the means of crucifying the local leaders who he hates, whent he dissolute mother of a fourteen-year-old girl revealsto him that one of these town pillars has corrupted her little daughter. As it turns out, six of the town's elders are also involved with the girl.
As Sewell's ruthless plan evolves, we learn in flashbacks and belated revelations the innermost secrets of this community, which are universal in their human meanings. We can see Everytown in Thebes, and perhaps some readers will say, "there but for the grace of God...."
And here's another good review....
"This is not a quiet book about a quiet village. It is a violent book about a town badly scarred by violence. Suicide, madness, multiple rape, depravity all figure in its pages. Swarthout's language is an odd mixture of the harsh, uncompromising and the scholarly. Scores of recondite words mingle with the boldest of Anglo-Saxon terms. But the classical has always existed amid the vulgar. The writing, however, is consistently powerful. And the tale never palls....Welcome To Thebes will shock some. It will offend others. And it may anger many. But it will be read."
Gerald Elliott, Grand Rapids, Michigan Press
"Glendon Swarthout is a skillful, even a brilliant writer. The book throbs with a blistering vitality. Welcome To Thebes is a tour de force of a high order."
- none given none given
Fort Wayne, Indiana News
- none given none given
"A twentieth century contender for the classics...a whale of a book."
Nashville, Tennessee Banner
- Howell Pearre
"Glendon Swarthout has moved into the realm of a modern melodrama in Welcome To Thebes. He has succeeded in all respects and the result is an exciting and vigorous piece of fiction, peopled with believable characters even though they are not attractive...When you read this book,don't reveal the ending to anyone. There is genuine shock and surprise in store for you. It is handled with a master's touch, but it will be completely unexpected."
Kansas City Star
- Theodore O'Leary
"This is not a pretty novel and it perhaps administers too many shocks to its readers but it contains passages of the utmost eloquence (Swarthout has a vocabulary reminiscent of James Gould Cozzens') and it is beautifully and intricately constructed."
Glendon Swarthout based his 3rd "big book" on a true event which scandalized the little town he grew up in, Lowell, Michigan, a half hour east of Grand Rapids, back in the 1950's. This racy, Peyton Place-type novel was perhaps Glendon's most personal, for it vividly describes some of the citizens in a small area of the upper Midwest he was intimately familiar with as a boy. Consequently this tragic Grecian drama caused this adult author quite a bit of stress during its creation and he found Welcome To Thebes one of his most difficult novels to write, after the added pressure of his first two big bestsellers (They Came To Cordura and Where The Boys Are) and the movies made from them being so successful.
Glendon Swarthout had 8 movies made from his stories and his most remembered bestseller was a pioneer in animal rights adventures -- Bless the Beasts & Children. Remember the Carpenters famous Oscar-nominated theme song?
Kathryn and Glendon Swarthout, husband and wife, also wrote six novellas for young adults together, which are also available as ebooks, as are all of Glendon's adult novels on-line. More about this writing family from Arizona on their slick literary website, www.glendonswarthout.com, which includes movie trailers, storylines to the 23 novels, personal biographies and family photos.