About one month into the 9th grade, we were practicing for a nuclear bomb attack, because Fidel Castro had been caught with Russian missiles aimed at the United States, and President Kennedy was sending the warships to blockade Cuba. It was scary. We could hear the fear in the voice that came on the loud […]
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
Whenever a girl got into my car, any chance of my paying undivided attention to the highway disappeared. With a girl beside me, so that I felt her, all the way down the length of my ribs and under my arm, along the outside length of her thigh and the curve of her hip joint, […]
Headed for Surfside in the wet cold morning, we took Highway 17, a ribbon of asphalt from New York to Miami. Going fishing, we were on the road. Possibilities multiplied. We felt the pulse of the whole East Coast running up the dotted white line. Fifteen miles to the Surfside Pier— not far, but a […]
Myrtle Beach was always magical, a carnival town, now billboard cluttered, strip-mall-crowded, neon-glowing, the so called “Redneck Riviera”. My hometown. People say, “Boy, you must have seen some changes in this place in the last fifty years.” But I don’t see it at all. The Beach is forever a carnival; it hasn’t changed one bit, […]
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 […]
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, […]