Last Friday morning, I shared with my once-a-month breakfast group, Women in Transition (WIT), the tentative name of the novel I’m writing about my father’s life in the 1920’s and 30’s.
Cat Skinner drew non-responsive stares which compelled me to explain the name. I didn’t want my friends to think I’m descended from a psychopath or that I’m promoting cruelty to animals. I recently helped to start a non-profit benefiting animals at our local shelter – for heaven’s sake!
Following is an excerpt from Chapter 1:
He was used to being in charge and in control, whether it was operating heavy equipment: Caterpillar tractors, bull dozers, crushers, backhoes, blades, shovels, dump trucks – or men. He’d been a shift boss on a lot of jobs. He knew how to lead and get things done. He was a Cat Skinner. That’s what they called heavy equipment operators. Webb liked the moniker because it recognized his skill, but he joked with friends about “skinner” since it referred to a man who drove a mule team. Skinning a mule just meant you were smarter than the mule. “A questionable gauge of intelligence,” Webb would say with a belly laugh and a drink in his hand.
There are those who know what’s meant by the term, Cat Skinner, but usually they’re folks with lots of miles behind them and a penchant for starting sentences with, “Back in my day…”
So here is my dilemma. What should the subtitle be?
My dad was a Cat Skinner who was self-educated. He only attended a year and a half of high school – maybe not that long since he and his brother were told to leave home when Webb was 14 and his brother Ray 16.
The term Cat Skinner fits him so well, I don’t want to change the name, but the subtitle needs to explain he doesn’t skin cats. It has to succinctly convey the essence of the novel which is a working stiff’s story of love and loss in the 1930’s. Does that do it or do you have other ideas? All offerings welcome.