In YOU WOULDN’T BELIEVE IT ANYHOW, septuagenarian Eric K. Hatch packs his life story from birth to present with accounts of teenage life in private school (often unhappy), work, avocations (including choir), and travels. The author’s early work life was offbeat for a time when sticking to a single career was the norm for professionals. His path segued from traditional academic and corporate management jobs to self-employment as a writer, photographer, and change consultant for corporations. As the author writes, “Hatches would much rather work for themselves.”
Hatch was born on the fringes of New York high society in 1945 to creative, unconventional parents. However, he spent much of his early childhood on the edge of poverty in the Caribbean due to his father’s boom-bust income as a writer and poor budgeting skills. When he was three years old in Haiti, his parents got by on five dollars a week and all the fish they could catch.
The author notes that his dad, Eric S. Hatch, escaped the boredom of toiling in his family’s stock brokerage as a writer of novels, screenplays (My Man Godfrey in 1936), and television scripts (the Topper series). In contrast, Hatch has earned much of his living writing about academia, business, and technical subjects. His artistic projects have included the photography exhibits Glaciers in Retreat (2022) and Faces of Addiction (2019). The addiction study, which is also a book, is particularly significant because of the mental health and substance abuse problems in Hatch’s birth family. The author indicates that his father was an alcoholic and his mother had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Hatch inherited ADHD, as did his brother, Jonathan, who died by suicide at 32 after living with mental health issues exacerbated by drug use.
Whereas Hatch wades in shallow water when discussing family relationships, he dives deep into accounts of his travels. These stories often include explanations of troubleshooting problems with a broad range of vehicles, such as the decrepit motor scooter on which he journeyed solo through France at age sixteen. Perhaps wrestling with faulty mechanical devices is less daunting to document than the fault lines in one’s family. Decades after freewheeling around France, Hatch reflects that long solo road trips—including one to Alaska—were good medicine for “ongoing pain in my life.” In addition to his brother’s death and discord with his daughters during their youth and young adulthood, one of those pains was a twenty-five-year rift with his mother, E. Constance De Boer Hatch. The author provides no explanation, except to say that they mended their relationship shortly before her death.
Packed to bursting with great stories, Eric K. Hatch’s YOU WOULDN’T BELIEVE IT ANYHOW is an especially compelling autobiography for those who love to travel.
~Alicia Rudnicki for IndieReader