Archive for the 'Like a Tree' Category

Calvin Kytle, Author of Like a Tree, Dies at 88

Thursday, June 5th, 2008 by Brian Seidman

Calvin Kytle, author of the Depression-era novel Like a Tree, died June 5, 2008; he was 88.

Kytle was also the author of the young-adult biography Gandhi, Soldier of Nonviolence and Who Runs Georgia? with Congressman James Mackay. He founded Seven Locks Press in 1978, publishing authors including Bill Moyers. He worked as a reporter for The Atlanta Journal Constitution and the Calhoun, Ga., Times, as well as an executive for Nationwide Insurance company. Kyle served as deputy director of the US Community Relations Service, created by the 1964 Civil Rights Act, from 1964-1965.

Calvin Kytle, author of Like a Tree

Kytle released his first novel, Like a Tree, at age 87. Like a Tree tells the story of the Krueger family, and how they survived the spirit-breaking years of the 1930s Depression. Foremost among the Krugers is Douglas, who struggles with mental illness throughout his life. Kytle paralleled Douglas’s achievements and setbacks with that of the country’s, fully demonstrating how the fate of the United States and the lives of its people are intertwined.

Like a Tree takes as its focus the South’s often-overlooked white liberal minority, which worked quietly and underground fighting prejudice, segregation, and ignorance. The novel stands as a testament to the perseverance, love, good will, and the fortitude of ordinary human beings. Vernon Jordan called Like a Tree “a sweeping, elegantly crafted story that explores Atlanta’s and the South’s complex racial and social past.”

Calvin Kytle was married for more than sixty years to the former Elizabeth Larisey, also an author. They retired to Carolina Meadows retirement community in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in 1991.

Like a Tree is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online book retailer.

Like a Tree Author Discusses Dream of Novel-Writing

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007 by Brian Seidman

Calvin Kytle, author of the forthcoming NewSouth book Like a Tree, discussed his dream of writing a novel earlier this month with North Carolina’s Herald Sun newspaper. As Kytle explains in the article, “Off and on all my life I wanted to do some fiction. I decided I would write a novel when I retired. I am very pleased with it, and I hope it will be well reviewed. I just did it to get something out of my system.” From the article:

[Like a Tree] focuses on a white, middle class, protestant Atlanta family during the Great Depression and centers around the main character, Douglas Krueger, as he battles his own depression. The novel details his road to recovery, which is similar to that of the country.

“I call it a functional Southern family,” Kytle said. “I got sort of weary of the dysfunctional Southern families written about.”

His novel also explores the small cells of white liberals during this time period who were working toward integration and reform in Georgia.

“I don’t think that group has been given much attention,” Kytle said. “Especially in Georgia, they were quite influential, so I wanted to write about those people. At that time, you might lose your job if you were white and someone saw you shake hands with a black person. I wanted to say something about that small minority of white liberals who were working sort of undercover.”

Much of the book comes from Kytle’s own experiences growing up in South Carolina and Georgia during the Depression. Although the book is not autobiographical, Kytle said he drew on memories from his childhood to create the plot and to reference many of the significant artifacts of that time period he describes in the book.

“The period in my life that I know best is the 1930s,” he said. “My adolescence is the period that I am most confident writing about. I did rely on my memory of that period a lot.”

Kytle’s wife of more than 60 years, Elizabeth, is also an author. … In addition to her moral support, Elizabeth Kytle’s main contribution to the book was its title, “Like A Tree.” It refers to an old traditional hymn, “We Shall Not Be Moved,” used during the Civil Rights Movement. The chorus of the hymn is “Just like a tree that’s standing by the water/We shall not be moved.”

Read the full article at the Herald Sun website.

To learn more about Like a Tree, visit