Monday, April 10, 2017

Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown grew up on the Georgia coast. He has lived in Buenos Aires, San Francisco, and the mountains of western North Carolina. His books include the story collection In the Season of Blood and Gold and the novel Fallen Land.

Brown's new novel is The River of Kings.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. His reply:
Blood, Bone and Marrow: A Biography of Harry Crews – Ted Geltner

Harry Crews was born just 75 miles west of my hometown in Georgia, and the man and his work have always fascinated me. His writing is at once brutal and comic, raw and articulate. And the man himself possesses a larger-than-life mystique – one, we learn, which he may have cultivated with “malice and forethought.” Here is a man who would quote long passages of Shakespeare in lecture, who wore a mohawk and wrote his novels alongside a mason jar of amphetamines, who survived childhood polio and tragedy and extreme poverty to become a darling of Madonna and Playboy and The New York Times, writing books of incredible beauty and power.

Geltner does not shy from the darker sides of Harry’s life and character, yet avoids condemnation or judgment. He succeeds in giving us a very human portrait of a conflicted man, while preserving some of the mystery so essential to Harry’s myth and work. I’m lucky enough to be reading with Ted Geltner at Turnrow Book Co. and Lemuria Books in Mississippi.

A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway

This is a reread for me. More accurately, I’ve been listening to the audiobook version during some recent road trips. I found myself returning to the book after writing an essay for SIBA (Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance) about the books that have had a profound impact on my life. It would be tough to overestimate how much this memoir of Hemingway’s time in 1920s Paris shaped my idea—or ideal, perhaps, of the writing life.

After I graduated college, I sold my car and moved to Buenos Aires to work on my first novel—I was looking for the 1920s Paris of the 21st century – and largely found it. But the influence continues to this day. Certain images and ideas are still so sharp: the high attic apartment where Hemingway kept his pencils sharp, burning orange rinds and small bundles of sticks, and the early morning cafes, with their smell of espresso and scratch of brooms. The solitude and focus and sense of vocation. The discipline. All of this has stayed with me, and it has been a treat to tread those Paris streets again.

Georgia Motorcycle History – Chris Price

This book may seem like an outlier, but beyond writing fiction, I’m actually the founder and lead editor of a vintage/retro/custom motorcycle blog, I grew up riding with my father—both dirt bikes and street bikes, including trips to the notorious bike weeks at Daytona and Sturgis—and motorcycling is my main passion outside of books and literature. Chris Price (Archive Moto) succeeds in marrying those passions for me with this book, which acts as a lens on the rise of motorcycle culture nationwide in the first half of the 20th century.

The book is replete with incredible black-and-white photographs of the early pioneers of the two-wheeled lifestyle, including figures like Vivian Bales—a seamstress and dance instructor from Albany, Georgia, who rode all over the country on her Harley-Davidson, becoming an icon for female enthusiasts for decades to come. Inspiring historical figures like these have a habit of turning up in my work, so I might say this book is as much research for me as pleasure. Recently, I got to hear Chris speak at Caffeine & Octane at the Beach—a car and bike show on Jekyll Island, Georgia—and it only redoubled my enthusiasm for his work.
Visit Taylor Brown's website.

My Book, The Movie: The River of Kings.

The Page 69 Test: The River of Kings.

--Marshal Zeringue