Synopses & Reviews
Here is a new collection of stories, anecdotes, and personal essays, with a few poems added for good measure, by a writer whose first collection of short fiction was published to high praise some forty years ago. The rich diversity of voices and forms gives the reader a peek into the room where Garrett writes. As the reader progresses through the collection, Garrett's inventive and engaging sensibility emerges in all its many facets.
The brief fiction section covers Garrett's extraordinary range: as a writer of Elizabethan-era historical fiction (for which he is perhaps best known), as a Southern regionalist/humorist, as a satirist, and as a technical innovator.
The second section derives from Garrett's inexhaustible store of humorous anecdotes. Darkly and wickedly comic, these glimpses into the absurdity of life in the hallowed halls of the academy approach wisdom in their use of the unexpected, the inevitable yet unpredictable misadventures of life.
The final section contains serious and reflective personal essays, mostly having to do with Garrett's family, and particularly with his father. These pieces are thoughtful, moving, and wise. With the anecdotes, they constitute a sort of camouflaged autobiography.
Bad Man Blues provides a rare opportunity to spend time in George Garrett's company, savoring his immediately accessible prose, and, at another level, indulging in the more arcane pleasure of tracing some of the mysterious sources of storytelling itself.
"George Garrett is the most proficient quick change artist in American letters, our greatest impressionist and our most gifted ventriloquist. By turns wise-ass and wistful, romantic and hilarious, in his new collection of stories and essays, Bad Man Blues, Mr. Garrett's voice turns up, among other places, in the mouth of( a tabloid reporter, a 'yuppie lawyer,' and the lovelorn secretary of the Earl of Monmouth, each successive story, as pitch-perfect as the last. 'Genius Baby' finds John Towne, the protagonist of Garrett's earlier novel Poison Pen fleeing the scene of his crimes 'with various angry fathers in hot pursuit yelling 'Stop, Thief!' Because ...there wasn't any other sensible cry to utter under the circumstances.' These stories, like the cry of the angry fathers, are the last word on their particular subjects. Perhaps even more impressive, however, are the essays in which Garrett removes his various disguises and speaks in his own voice of his childhood in Florida, of his misadventures in academia, of boxing and Joe Louis, of writing, and, in a gorgeous piece entitled 'Heroes,' of his father, 'an American radical, part populist, part prophet and mostly a rare example of what, in our buttoned-up era ... I would have to call a Neanderthal Democrat.' In Bad Man Blues, we find all of George Garrett's celebrated voices, humorist, romantic and realist alike, and it would be a pleasure to think that he has dropped his guard long enough to give his readers a glimpse of the real George Garrett as well, but, even as you turn the pages of this new volume, you will sense him doing his duck and weave, shuffling and bobbing, drifting dangerously close to a corner and punching his way out again." Reviewed by Daniel Weiss, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
A new collection of stories, anecdotes, and personal essays, with a few poemsadded for good measure, by the writer whose first collection of short fictionwas published to high praise some 40 years ago.