Saturday, June 13, 2015

Alex Bledsoe

Alex Bledsoe grew up in west Tennessee an hour north of Graceland (home of Elvis) and twenty minutes from Nutbush (birthplace of Tina Turner). He has been a reporter, editor, photographer and door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman. He now lives in a Wisconsin town famous for trolls.

Bledsoe's new novel is Long Black Curl, the third novel of the Tufa, following The Hum and Shiver and Wisp of a Thing.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. His reply:
I’m currently indulging in two of my favorite obsessive reading topics, the Beat Generation, and Shakespeare.

From the Beats, I’m reading Jack Kerouac’s first novel manuscript, The Sea is My Brother, written in 1943 and finally published in 2011. It’s like many first novels, including my own: probably better left in the drawer. Yet for that very reason it’s both a treat and a reassurance. Kerouac’s place in the literary firmament is already secure, so finding out that he, like me and every other writer, started with an awkward, crude first manuscript that nevertheless showed flashes of what was to come, reminds me that we all have that sort of potential in us. Whether we realize it or not often comes down to the kind of hard work Kerouac specialized in, that drove him to do things like type an entire novel on one immense roll of paper so he didn’t have to pause to put in individual sheets.

I’m also reading Peter Brook’s 2014 book, The Quality of Mercy: Reflections on Shakespeare. Brook is a veteran British stage director who’s done productions of just about every significant Shakespeare play, so his insights come from practical experience with the text and its performance (unlike, say, Harold Bloom, who as far as I can tell has never set foot on a stage). It’s a very slim volume (128 pages with generous line spacing and margins), but it packs a wallop. I’m about to start his chapter on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and I’m really looking forward to it; he directed a landmark 1970 production that, among other things, introduced the idea of the same actors playing Theseus/Oberon, Hippolyta/Titania, and Philostrate/Puck (you can see this as well in the 1996 RSC production available on DVD).

I’m also working my way through Meeting the Other Crowd: The Fairy Stories of Hidden Ireland, by Eddie Lenihan with Carolyn Eve Green. It’s a collection of supposedly real encounters with the Good Folk, and it’s rich with the kind of folkloric detail I love to put in my Tufa novels.
Learn more about the book and author at Alex Bledsoe's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Wisp of a Thing.

--Marshal Zeringue