Remembering Michael Hutchison by Gary Houston (Wooster, 1968) Managing Editor Chicago Quarterly Review

Below was sent by Riogarhed.

Michael Hutchison graduated The College of Wooster and followed the Summer of Love to Manhattan, where on the south end he eventually found himself, between writings, shepherding runaways corralled at the Judson Memorial Church. Wooster friends like Tom Miller and me would see him and spend hours into the night on the sidewalks of Village cafes or huddled in smoky bars listening to him exult about rock music just as he had in a Voice column back on the campus. Not that Emerson, Lake and Palmer were #1 on his list, but in my very individual memory there was the time he made me listen to the newly released “Lucky Man.” Hutch tapped my arm and said, okay listen here, here comes the moog! At Wooster he had written for Voice and Thistle, certainly also for the alternative to Thistle he and Ron Wallace created, The Shaft, with its Arpege promo parody, then considered hilarious and at worst merely naughty, “Promise her anything, but give her The Shaft!” And he wrote a play I acted in titled Midpoint that was a winner in the Speech Department’s annual one-act playwriting contest. Elsewhere, I remember a poem he wrote with the repeated words, “and trains, they say, are going out of style”; those few words to this day haunt me, and maybe I could say why if I could remember the rest of it.

In the early 1970s he handed Tom a piece typewritten on yellow paper, front and back, a meditation from a Mayflower moving man’s point of view. It bore no title, and when Tom told him it was good Hutch laughed it off. Tom held onto it all these years, even past the year Hutch, left in paralysis in a wheelchair after a road accident, died in 2013. He had become the esteemed and followed author of a book on floatation and a couple on what he called the megabrain. There was a novel, I understand; we all know he was destined to write at least one. His website endures and is actively kept current by someone to whom I am sure he was dear.

Tom mailed me the yellow original with the thought that the Chicago Quarterly Review might run it. The magazine’s fiction editor and its two senior editors were all for it. I suggested the title “Notes From a Moving Man,” and if you read it as I hope you will you will appreciate that the “notes” bit is more than a gratuitous riff on Dostoevsky. “Notes From a Moving Man” is very like the things Hutch wrote when his Wooster years coincided with ours, or some of ours, and if you would like to reconnect with him just pretend this is his latest gift to the world. Some of you, of course, graduated before he arrived. Some of you arrived after he graduated. But you know the place, so imagine a voice like his being part of your time there. It won’t be hard.

Here is the link to the CQR issue containing Hutch’s moving man entry as well as contributions by Charles Johnson, author of the National Book Award-winning novel Middle Passage; Patricia Engel, novelist of this year’s The Veins of the Ocean, and in Chicagoland the much esteemed Harry Mark Petrakis:

Please forward this to others in the Wooster community, past and present.

Thank you!

Gary Houston (Wooster, 1968)
Managing Editor
Chicago Quarterly Review

In loving memory of Michael Hutchison 1945-2013

A dedication video by Thom Hartmann



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