First thing to do was take a deep breath. It was always colder and windier, the air cleaner to breathe over the ocean. Cold at that hour. Before dawn, the sky unbroken, dark, dark, dark. Bluish-white islands of light lit the fishermen hunched over rods, smoking cigarettes, blowing steam from coffee cups. The light stopped […]
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
On the way to play poker, I made promises to myself. Not to do this or that stupidly in the game, let myself be bluffed out. I always vowed: if I lost all the money I had on me, I would never, under any circumstances again borrow money from Timmy. I already owed him, always […]
The size of the world changed in high school, grew smaller, though a larger world might have been suggested by logic; if logic had influenced beach boys. All of my dreams condensed in the desire to be cool. It would seem a small desire to fill. But the definition of cool is vague, except everybody […]
Where did girls go when school let out? What did they do? I didn’t have the slightest idea. Which is really odd, as much time as I spent thinking about sex: how to get it, and who to get it from, and all the attendant aspects of making myself ready, presentable, desirable, and all the […]
I love the sounds of words, probably the first reason I became a writer. Later I added the hope of causing folks to laugh and cry reading stories that I found fun to write. I grew up in Myrtle Beach, a carnival town surrounded by characters who have grown on me like riotous vines, […]
Petesy liked a small rod, easy to manage close to the pier. He lowered the bait to just above the water. Then he swung the baited hooks above the ocean, to tantalize the fish, as if schools of them waited for treats, like seated dogs. He never tired of explaining himself to curious fishermen, especially […]
The first intimations we got of the atmosphere in beer joints and nightclubs came around make-do dance floors at school. One night in the basketball gym, at a “sock hop” social dance, when we were in the ninth grade, the band was a revolting surprise. One of the players, with all-over long hair, combed back […]
The main thing that kept us boys in line at school was the threat of corporeal punishment. Any man old enough to remember when it was legal for school teachers to swat trouble-makers, probably recalls a teacher, usually a man, who carried the biggest stick. In my case, he was the baseball coach, who also […]
Sailing single-handed you don’t sleep much, not for very long at a stretch. Like you don’t sleep caring for a restless newborn, except on a boat, the first time you go alone the newborn is yourself. Everything about the ocean looks brand new, as though you’ve never seen it before. Out of sight of land, […]