Monday, May 28, 2012

"I loved American BeheMouth, but I hate the author."

A few people emailed me to say how much they loved the book, but that they hated me personally. “The book was a great and fun read, has some great themes, but I hated you in it.”
My response was “Great. That was what I was going for.” At least, that is, if you mean to say that you hated the protagonist in the book, Jay. Although the book is based on my life story, I fictionalized the characters.Therefore, although Jay has some resemblance to me in the story, I chose his actions based on my goals as a writer, not on actions I would choose myself. For example, some of Jay’s obsessive qualities are several degrees past where I am, although I too have been known to fall out of balance at times.

Let’s take a look at what readers should despise about Jay. On the other hand, let’s also look at his admirable traits.

What you should despise about Jay, the protagonist of "American BeheMouth":

1) He is a cheater and a thief. Nobody likes someone who would cheat or steal to get ahead. Society is full of people like this. Jay should be despised as should others who take this approach to work, sports, finance, industry, or other matters.

2) He is out of balance in life. Jay puts his obsession ahead of all else. He is the antithesis of the model of how to be balanced in life.

3) Jay puts himself and his personal ambitions above his wife and his children. We admire people who put others above themselves.

4) He blows his family’s wealth and goes into obscene debt to finance a vain pursuit, namely fishing, without any tangible benefit. It’s not any different than gambling. It is horrible to see someone spend beyond their means and risk losing everything. Readers should cringe.

5) He in effect “shoots up.” Everyone hates cheaters, but a cheater who also uses chemical means to “win” should be despised. Jay sprays his lake with chemicals to increase the growth of his baitfish; the practice is not much different than sports heroes using performance-enhancing drugs to be more competitive. We all hate drugs and drug addiction.

6) In the end, when the lake’s levy fails, Jay should quit and cut his losses while he still can. Instead, he “doubles up,”just like a poker player. He resembles Ben Bernanke at the printing presses (Jay’s circulating tanks) producing fish like there is no tomorrow, growing the biggest fish. It becomes clear this book is a sad allegory about the state of our country, the economy, and the Fed.

7) Jay is cold and calculating. No one likes someone with this kind of personality. We gravitate toward those who are warm, thoughtful, and kind.

8) Jay is a terrible husband. He does not have any compassion or understanding for his wise and prudent wife, who is the voice of reason and sensibility. Jay does not demonstrate marriage fidelity; he turns to his bass, Elise, as to another woman. The feelings Lauren has about this are the same as if Jay were having an affair. He is in fact having an emotional affair with a fish. Sick, I know.

9) Jay is a bad father. He doesn’t care about his children. He just cares about his lake.

10) I am sure there are other reasons to despise Jay. If you find some, then I believe I am successful with this character. Just for the record, although I have been accused of having an affair with a female bass, the accusations are unsubstantiated.
Purchase the new book, American BeheMouth, in paperback.

Preview 50% of the book on Google Play.

Why we might initially admire Jay:

1) Jay is a creator, producer, and achiever, a true American spirit and innovator. We all admire and appreciate those who innovate and achieve great things. It requires someone who is a risk taker and a hardworker. We can think of people like Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, among others. Jay is truly a great American in that respect. He just takes a few wrong turns in HOW he goes about innovating. The fisheries formula he develops works and is accurate. It is proven and can be duplicated. He does not need to steal fish or use chemicals to create the record. He just becomes impatient like so many wanting to find a shortcut to riches. Hard work is the only way to success and wealth—not some get-rich-quick scheme—or grow-big-bass-quick scheme.

2) Jay is an overachiever, which can be admirable in one sense, but it can also be despised.

3) Jay is tenacious, a great quality for a prize fighter, but maybe a bad quality for a fisheries scientist.

4) OK, I’ve been thinking a long time now and can’t think of any other great qualities in Jay. So, your point is proven; Jay is to be despised and is not a hero. The heroine in the story is a static character, but she is the heroine nonetheless--Lauren. She represents the voice of American financial independence and freedom.
Read some excerpts at

Friday, May 25, 2012

New Book Portrays Problems in American Society via Fishing Metaphor

American BeheMouth” tells the story of a fisheries hobbyist who raises and catches the world-record bigmouth bass in the "Area 51 of Bass Fishing," a secret 70-acre lake.
The protagonist's short cuts in fisheries science prevent him from certifying the record fish with the International Game Fish Association. He allows his obsession to endanger his relationships and put him in debt.
It soon becomes clear that the author, Jason Covington, is really talking about the pursuit of the American dream and turmoil in Washington, Wall Street, and Main Street. The protagonist’s moral lapse is reminiscent of sports heroes and politicians we all know. He uses his credit card to finance the dream, hand feeding his behemouth thousands of bait fish. He also sprays chemicals on the lake to increase the baitfish size. The reader can only think of the similarities to our bloated government and the Fed with its money printing, quantitative easing, and $15 trillion deficit.

Other themes in the book include achieving great accomplishments while staying balanced, marriage and the complexities of modern American families, along with many ethical dilemmas, including allusions to economic troubles in American society.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

American BeheMouth: No Clear Line Between Truth and Fiction

The monofilament differentiation between truth and fiction, integrity and ethical lapse.

After hearing about the world record bass caught in American BeheMouth, some fishermen have asked where the lake is. Readers want to know how the story came together and which parts are fiction versus fact.

In Chapter 13, "Back to Reality," the protagonist discusses this:

"After a fishing trip like this, going back to work the following Monday was brutal. It made the fishing experience seem like a fantasy, a dream, and I wasn’t sure it truly happened. Did I really catch the world-record bass? I hooked it, right in the jaw, fair and square.

I knew I could not tell about it—not even Lauren should know about this. Some secrets were worth keeping. That’s how I felt about it. I had created what was like the “Area 51” of Bass Fishing. 

The slogan for my fishery could be 'THE WORLD-RECORD BASS IS OUT THERE.'"

I want readers to experience the protagonist’s journey, from beginning to end, and figure out this question for themselves. That is the beauty of fictionalizing the true content of the book. Yes, the formula is viable, and someone could reproduce what takes place in the book.

However, I want them to think over the ethical questions, issues, and debate first. If we just told them the world-record was caught and released and where the lake is, the mob would be there and ruin it, raising even more ugly ethical issues, like private lakes versus public domain, what records count, how much of a cheater you must be to be despised, etc. Also, if the book were entirely fiction, and the catch was dismissed immediately as folklore, some might miss the important messages raised here.

I want readers to return to a time in childhood when there was still some mystery in the world, when there was hope and wonder in nature, and promise of what man is capable of. Also, I want all of us who have grown up in the “real world” and been hardened by struggle to look at the men who have taken short cuts and ask ourselves, “Is it really worth it? Do we really need to get ahead that bad?” We need to examine our values and priorities. Why are we doing what we do? Why do we need a bigger [bass]? What is this sport really about? What has it become? These questions apply to our careers and personal lives as well.

In American BeheMouth, I have taken my own life story and put it out there--raw and bare--while fictionalizing some parts to protect the guilty and innocent and hold the broken pieces together. So much of life does not work like a novel, so we have fiction to hold the pieces together and make sense of it all.

People who know me understand that most of the novella is true. To those who ask where the lake is, I think have said more than I should in telling that it is in Kentucky. This answer raises more questions than the original question, like "Why not California?"

My response to all these other questions is "Read the book." You cannot understand the enigma and the discovery process unless you follow the protagonist's journey.

In the process of following the journey, you will learn that life is more profound than just fishing, although fishing makes an excellent metaphor for life."

Copyright 2012 Jason Covington

Quote borrowed from Norman Maclean's "A River Runs Through It":
"In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing."