“Dancing is a vertical expression of horizontal desire,” said Robert Frost, maybe America’s most famous poet. The first time I heard that line quoted I wondered who said it first. I was in a crowd of shag dancers. I can’t remember who told me, but at the time, I asked, thinking “vertical expression of horizontal […]
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
Ride the knife is lesson one on the hustle. Then beware the blade. How long you ride is relevant. You slip and slide the longer you ride and cut yourself to death. Beware the Blade.
Poem for Candidates To aspire and arrive to lead a nation is an honorable ambition impossible to attain for a pussy. We bestow the office on little men who sit upon a throne of weapons. To be the chief, a little fellow must accept, if not aspire, to wash his hands in blood. The office […]
Dearest absent Valentine, What’s in your heart when love is out of town? Depends how long it lasts, given love’s condition leaving. One heart stays, the other goes; in between flows light, heat, hope, desire, and sometimes trust broken in the leaving. Maybe what is known of love is only our opinion shared. […]
THE KOSHER HAND THAT FED ME The other night I had dinner at the Jerusalem Cafe, a new restaurant in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, a town that supposedly has more restaurants per capita than any on Earth. Myrtle Beach is my hometown, so I can tell you, the more restaurants you have, the more likely you […]
The Earth is traveling around the sun 61,000 miles an hour. That is so fast no bullet on Earth could catch us. We could get away with anything. The cops would never see us. They would have to know we were coming, and be watching from a long way off, even to see the […]
TO TAMPA AND BACK My younger son Ross is six feet, six inches tall, has hair three feet long, a beard that near reaches his chest, and blue eyes. Some of the hair notwithstanding, he has a face like mine when I was 24. Ross and I just made a trip to Florida, three […]
HELP I heard Joshua’s cry. The nurse I spoke to came back and told me she was VERY sorry. But that Betsy would be okay. Then I understood. The terrified voice of a child crying for help has haunted me since.
I took a picture of sunrise this morning. It was cold on the beach, not so cold my hands froze, but brisk, the way my dog likes it. As you can see in the picture, there appears to be two images of the sun, one larger than the other. The smaller sun also casts a […]