PERSONAL: Born in Baytown, TX; son of Elmer and Marie Cartwright. Education: Attended Prairie View A&M.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Falcon Creek Publishing Company, 13054 Francisquito Ave., Ste. E, Baldwin Park, CA 91706.
CAREER: Writer. Worked as an electrical engineer, environmental engineer with the Air Quality Management District of California; businessman and inventor.
I Never Played Catch with My Father, Falcon Creek Publishing (Baldwin Park, CA), 1995.
A Family Gathering, edited by Carrie Cartwright, Falcon Creek Publishing (Baldwin Park, CA), 1999.
Half Moon, Full Heart, Falcon Creek Publishing (Baldwin Park, CA), 2003.
Author of several screenplays, including The Widowmaker.
SIDELIGHTS: Texas native Gene Cartwright is the author of several novels and screenplays. In his first novel, I Never Played Catch with My Father, narrator James T. Phalen recalls his life during a trip to visit his dying father. Years earlier, Phalen had left the small Texas town where he grew up and went on to become a millionaire through shrewd investments. His relationship with his father was not as good. A minister, his father had been indifferent to Phalen's needs when he was young. As a child, Phalen wanted to be a baseball player; but, as the title of the novel suggests, his father never had much time for him. During his trip from Manhattan to Texas, Phalen visits the Baseball Hall of Fame and reminisces about his life and family within the frame of the changing social contexts of the 1960s through the 1990s.
A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that while "Platitudes and leaden prose sink Cartwright's sincere first novel," Phalen "learns some lessons—that dads are people, too, and that family values are important." Writing in Aethlon, Bobby Fong noted that the characters "are summarized rather than shown" but also commented that the book had "some fine moments."
Cartwright, who is African American, became embroiled in controversy and following the work's publication was criticized by some African Americans for writing about white people instead of portraying the black experience. Leonard Pitts, Jr., however, pointed out in a Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service article that "Mark Twain wrote about a slave without ever having been one."
Perhaps responding to this controversy, Cartwright does write about myths surrounding African-American men in his novel A Family Gathering. He is also the author of Half Moon, Full Heart. In an interview with Meredith Darnell for the Baytown Sun, Cartwright called the latter novel "'Romeo and Juliet' meets 'The Bridges of Madison County.'" The story focuses primarily on a California career woman who, after a divorce, ends up in Texas hoping to begin a new life.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Aethlon, fall, 1998, Bobby Fong, review of I Never Played Catch with My Father, pp. 215-216.
Baytown Sun (Baytown, TX), July 20, 2003, Meredith Darnell, "Books Abound."
Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service, July 3, 1997, Leonard Pitts, Jr., "Why Can't a Black Man Write about White Folk?," p. 703K5420.
Publishers Weekly, May 20, 1996, review of I Never Played Catch with My Father, p. 241.