I fell in love with Betsy in Jacksonville, Florida, while she was out cold. I never saw anything so beautiful as that brave girl’s face. It was not the usual thing to allow a father in the operating room for a C-section. The doctor asked me if I had a strong stomach. My wife pleaded […]
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
Before my father died, I was never in trouble with the law. Daddy prevented me from making early mistakes large enough to follow me through life. The shortcomings he saw in himself, he determined to eradicate in me. His bad temper for one. So that any sign of anger, let alone rage, was a near […]
Cruising on a sailboat is like taking care of young children: if you want to enjoy yourself, you learn to put away your own designs and ideas, adapt to conditions as they unfold, otherwise your patience is tested beyond the breaking point sooner or later. Rarely, but sometimes, you can damage a relationship for life, […]
On my way out of Key West, I stopped and picked up a few groceries. It took a while to decide what to buy. So many small decisions had to be arrived at on dry land. There were complexities here that did not intrude when I sailed alone in deepwater. Out on the ocean, life was supercharged with simplicity […]
I navigated for Key West. Arriving in sight of Mallory Square, I saw several thousand people lining the bulkhead where the cruise ships normally docked. There was some kind of festival event going on. In the channel off Mallory Square, the ocean-going speedboats were running upwards of a hundred miles an hour, their drive gear […]
Soon as darkness fell, I had a craving to sleep. The day had gone by without a nap, and I was feeling the weight. The wind had quit, the ocean was flat calm, and I was running the engine at full power, motoring behind the Dry Tortugas, headed in for Key West. Just at nightfall, […]
The night of the third day I slept. I meant to be up again in fifteen minutes, but hours elapsed. The deep sleep ended suddenly. I woke up to a silent boat. No sound of the ocean. No movement, as if Mysterion had settled on a rock. The silence and the stillness startled me. I […]
The third day. Dead tired, no sleep, dehydrated, seasick, feeling sorry for myself, hating the boat, fearing the mindless ocean. One wrong move, and I could wind up overboard. The boat would sail on with the automatic pilot engaged, and I would be dragged by the life harness—like shark bait—not unlike a husband tethered to […]
The sun came out like a newborn baby, I was that elated to see it. The night had been pregnant with a new day. The sky was transformed, growing pale blue as a bubble, inside which the wind increased as the cold air warmed. Atop the deepwater swell running south, the surface of the ocean […]