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 […]
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
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 […]
Looking for a wife, I decided to go to church. I was proud of my intention to be a father. Fantasies of parenthood gave me a sense of belonging. Soon I would be among the mothers and fathers of the regular community. I would fit in as a parent. Whatever qualities I lacked currently might […]
The impulse hit me like remembering something you forgot when you’re already on the highway. Like forgetting to take your own pillow when you go far away, else when you arrive, you can’t get comfortable, resting your head on the memory of something you forgot. I wanted babies bad. Imagining myself a father, I became […]
That first winter in high school, we were wild. Not full grown teenagers, none of us had a driver’s license, an automobile. or much idea of what to do in a parked car with a date, aside from fog up the windows. Kissing was innocence on the prowl. Without cars, our opportunities were limited […]
It was 1962, the rabble beyond the waterway were already well aroused. Underage drinking went on in the parking lot at the sock hop. Quite a lot of drinking, almost exclusively among the boys. But who knows that for sure? Women’s liberation had been an open secret since the elevation of the Virgin Mary. Girl […]
A horse is the most compelling toy possible for a budding young girl. Equine males walk around continually naked. Even geldings sometimes achieve moderate elongation when mares in heat raise and roll their tails askew presenting themselves shamelessly. My little sister admitted to me once that she and her friends had to be careful not […]
My first romance rode a painted horse called “Beauty.” She was cute, precious beyond measure, beyond time, for she is always there, freckled and fiery red-haired, kicking the flanks of Beauty; she gallops in youth’s eternal moment. I am under the spell of whatever it is, that little thing, which is gigantic, that runs away […]
I was still wearing the clothes I had slept in, and couldn’t remember the night before. My head was on backwards. I was starving for something sweet to eat, and there she was. Her waitress station was all the way across the dining room. I felt no pressure that she would be the one to […]