I conceived of The Charging Bull of Terry County as my own literary reflection on Tolstoy’s War and Peace via the saga of an American family with a proud military history dealing with loss on various levels; loss of life, innocence, etc. Thoroughly embroiled in the fictional struggles of my characters two years ago, I found the writing took on new dimensions with a bolt from the blue in the form of a phone call telling me a friend had died in a car crash. I doubt this changed a single word I wrote but it gave to each word nuances of a greater intensity. The pathos of the writing deepened for me to the point that I was later astonished to see the Kirkus reviewer calling the book hilarious.
Once upon a time I thoroughly enjoyed in a cathartically devastating sort of way a live complete-text performance of Shakespeare’s Richard II. At the point the king is murdered after three hours of unrelenting drama there was not a dry eye in the house even in the embarrassed face of the poor guy in the front row who burst out laughing. The buildup of tension requires comic relief even when the writer stubbornly withholds it. To date I have never been able to withhold the humor and see no reason yet to try. My most serious work contains a sting of wit, a stimulus of humor, a spoonful of sugar to help the philosophical go down whether I consciously intend it or not. I find it funny in the sense of odd or interesting that I never meant to be funny in the sense of hilarious. The words just came out that way as I dealt with the serious issue of loss in its manifold manifestation. I think if Bill were still with us, he would be laughing his ass off.