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 […]
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
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 […]
I lived in a cabin on the river above the Tuckaseegee Gorge, near Dillsboro, North Carolina, in the suburbs of the Great Smokies. The view from my favorite chair was of the river and the rocks that carved the river into rapids. There were tea roses growing among the rocks, dogwoods enough, and wild day […]
It was the year everything changed. Childhood was ending. We were leaving the elementary school that had been our winter home in daylight hours for seven years. The school building was as familiar as the houses we came from, but a refuge from parents, and a playpen where we knew the rules and how to […]
TOLD YOU NOT TO WORRY, that I would never leave you I gave you reasons to believe me. The white knight lover I am took out the garbage, washed the dishes, paid the bills. All I wanted was to save you from sadness. You opened for me like a flower. Loved me as completely as […]
REMEMBERING A PRINCE OF THE BEACH BUM ARISTOCRACY The Land of Shag has lost a prince. Walter Vann Applewhite, number 33 on the Myrtle Beach Seahawks football team. Graduated high school 1957. Born in Georgia, in ‘38, He spelled his middle name with two n’s, cause that was his grandmama’s maiden moniker, V–a–n–n. He grew […]
What does a shag dancer need to stay healthy? Beach fever, the infection that cures the disease of loneliness. At the SOS Fall Migration in September, everybody got what they came for, as long as you were looking for music, laughter, and a dance partner with a casual attitude. At SOS a different reality comes […]
The wave action we were caught in made pulling the anchors dicey. To wait for the wind to calm down would have been the better move. Going forward to winch up the ground tackle, I began to wonder what I was doing here. The strain the hull placed on the lines made them dangerous to […]
In the Land of Shag the dance of romance goes on. Holding hands at the edge of the floor feels dangerous. The music touches you, as it did when the song was new. When young, foolish, and racing to be in love, you fell into it, or jumped, as often as the records on the […]