Thursday, July 27, 2017

Dave Boling

A native of south Chicago, Dave Boling is a sports columnist in the Seattle area. His first novel, the international best-selling Guernica, was translated into 13 languages with an English-language edition sold worldwide. Prior to becoming a journalist, Boling was a football player at the University of Louisville, an ironworker in Chicago, a logger in the Pacific Northwest, a bartender and bouncer, and a laborer in a car factory and in steel mills. He took up fiction writing at age 53.

Boling's new novel is The Lost History of Stars.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. Boling's reply:
Fearing a cross-contamination of styles, I don’t read novels much when I’m working on one of my own. I may dip into a dozen books a day while checking for margin notes and underlined passages that inspire me. But, being suggestible, I fear I might fall victim to the power of somebody else’s words and tempo and style, and it will disrupt the “voice” of the story I’m working on.

But I do like to start a writing day by reading poetry, hoping to be influenced by the concision of words, the clarity and the insight. Tony Hoagland is a current favorite because of his vision and wit, and his ability to decode contemporary absurdities.

At the moment I was invited to identify the book I was reading, it was The Blue Buick, a collection by B.H. Fairchild. I’ve been a fan since reading “Body and Soul,” a lengthy narrative poem that may be the best piece of sports-adjacent writing I know. It’s a remembrance of a group of hardscrabble Oklahoma laborers and an existential sandlot baseball outing on summer Sunday afternoon.

They are looking back to the dusty day when they became victims to a home-run barrage by a switch-hitting teenager named Mickey Mantle. Clinging to their roughneck obduracy, they refused to simply walk the wunderkind, and he sprayed five homers out toward the vanishing point. They limped home with their threadbare dignity and the singular memory of nascent greatness courtesy of “… the blond and blue-eyed bringer of truth.”

As in “Body and Soul,” Fairchild in The Blue Buick merges poetry and prose into a giant river-of-consciousness run-on that somehow renders an elegance to the daily battles against boredom and futility in places where every out-of-town license plate screams “… life is somewhere else.”
Visit Dave Boling's website.

--Marshal Zeringue