No amount of precaution and planning would keep Betsy comfortable for long in open water. She had no experience of time in a seaway All she had seen in the movies, or frozen on film, retouched for magazines and postcards, all of it intimated romance and natural glory, the majesty of the sea. Only beautiful […]
About Bo Bryan
I’m a Southern writer, raised a gentleman trained to open doors and carry packages. I am well mannered, if not always polite. I write for pleasure. I wiggle my fingers over a magic board and words appear like pixie dancers, telling in motion the stories. I capture the motion to preserve moments, to share my astonishment for the visceral ballet of head, heart, and spirit that is a human being, and a miracle.
Very little of my writing is yet known. Most of it no one has seen. Twenty-five years ago, I got a taste of success, publishing my first novel, Bitsy Nickle Might Have Aids—a tale of political satire and black humor. The book was optioned for film, caused a stir among local health department bureaucrats, elected officials, and preachers-of-the-true-gospel. That got me on television. My wife didn’t like it much—me in the public eye talking about another woman, even one that was make-believe. My second book was SHAG: The Legendary Dance of the South, a regional bestseller. SHAG, and the attention that came with the book, ended the marriage. Then the court battle for the kids ensued. I won. I became a single parent, raising three young children on an island without a bridge.
I disappeared, but I kept writing. The books I had published went out of print. People who enjoyed my work continued to look me up and ask what I was writing now. I explained that I still worked each day, getting up at three in morning to write books—I just wasn’t interested in publishing, which would have required me to go on the road. I more enjoyed being home; besides, I owed it to the kids, having taken them away from their mother, nutty as she was.
Bo BryanSole custody came with a price, and I paid it in full: stuck close, cooked, cleaned, did the laundry, doctored, counseled, laughed and cried, read Goodnight Moon, and fell asleep exhausted. Got up and did it all, again and again—the writing first, the writing always. To have a story going was another reality. I wrote about the life I had left behind, that I imagined returning to when the kids were grown: that of a Southern writer and a Southern gentleman at home in the land of shag, seeking sin and salvation on the same dance floor. I never stopped writing. I stacked up manuscripts one after another: novels, stories and poems, non-fiction, essays and memoir—and all of it I wrote content to sit tight and wiggle my fingers for seventeen years.
Now the kids are grown, and I’m back in the game—back-with-a-stack, as the road gamblers say.
I am a Southern writer, trained as a gentleman. My stories will open doors if I’ve done my job, minded my manners and been polite—not too polite. If the stories lighten the load, I will not be a burden to the young. I’ll be a silver soldier of my generation, the biggest generation of all, by God, the one that Boomed, the one that rocked, and the one that rolled, the one that brought the power of flowers to the future. I was never a hero who refused to fight—nor a hero in the jungle. I ran up and down the road chasing beauty and the truth of myself. First I caught up with enough, then too much to carry. The beauty died young, but it rose again, trust me. I’ll tell you the whole truth and nothing but, even if I have to invent it.
Entries by Bo Bryan
Betsy was all for heading to the Caribbean or Central America, to the Rio Dolce, the “sweet river”, in Guatemala. That was where I imagined delivering the baby, anchored up surrounded by jungle, where a medical helicopter probably couldn’t land, even if there was one to call. But that was part of the attraction. […]
We had not had sex since living together in the mountains. Back then, we had had a lot of it for fun, not trying to get pregnant. The fun had played out, the romance ended another failed experiment in bliss. Now we were married with no ambition to be in love, only to procreate. Betsy […]
We were hungover leaving the yacht broker’s house. I asked Betsy to drive and opened the car door, letting her in. Closing the door, I walked around to the passenger side, climbed in, and asked her to marry me in so many words, “Do you still want to do this whole thing? Have children and […]
At a dinner party with the yacht broker who had sold me the boat, Betsy and I sat across the table from Mark, a good looking younger man, one of the craftsmen employed by the broker to outfit the yachts he sold. Mark was highly competent, my favorite among the skilled hands helping me to […]
I located a boat in Texas. Practically a new vessel, with less than fifty hours on the engine, sitting on an inland lake near Austin. The floorboards weren’t even scratched. She was priced to sell; the catch was, she was bare bones, not equipped for oceangoing: no electronic navigation, no long-distance radio-telephone, no self-steering gear, […]
In North Carolina, we looked for a house up and down the Outer Banks, and all along the western shore of Pamlico Sound, no luck. But a boat like the one I was looking for happened to be anchored in the yacht harbor at Beaufort, near Morehead City. A Hans Christian 38T, forty-six feet overall, she […]
I called Betsy from a phone booth in Edenton, North Carolina, on the Albemarle Sound, where descendants of Blackbeard the Pirate were members of the Chamber of Commerce. I was on the road, I told her, looking for a house to raise kids in and a sailboat to travel with; I went on with the […]
Leaving church, I drove out to the Oconaluftee River, found a rock to sit on, and stared at the moving water. I prayed and waited for some echo, some after-shock to come, related to the watery blue entity I had seen flying through the sanctuary of the Baptist church. What could that have been? No […]