Good read

Bruce Graham shares a lit­tle of the novel he is cur­rently writ­ing.


Bruce Graham wears many hats.

He’s from Parrsboro, he was a jour­nal­ist and an­chor­man for 40 years, he writes fic­tion and non­fic­tion, he cur­rently lives in Amherst, and he’s also an all-around good guy.

“I asked him to come in and read be­cause peo­ple like Bruce Graham,” said Denise Corey, chief li­brar­ian with Cum­ber­land Pub­lic Li­braries.

Graham was at the Four Fa­thers Li­brary in Amherst on Oct. 25, where he read from an un­ti­tled novel he’s cur­rently writ­ing, and, also, to pro­vide in­sights into the novel-writ­ing process.

The novel is about a young man, Liam, who went AWOL from the Con­fed­er­ate army af­ter killing a man in the civil war, and his sis­ter, Mered­ith, who seeks his where­abouts.

“It’s about a Chris­tian Con­fed­er­ate fam­ily. They’re a first-gen­er­a­tion fam­ily out of Ire­land,” said Graham. “They don’t have any slaves but they be­lieve in slav­ery. They be­lieve in ev­ery­thing the Con­fed­er­acy stands for.”

Graham vis­ited a li­brary in Get­tys­burg, PA, a few years ago where he read a book about Fred­er­icks­burg. That book in­spired him to write a novel about the civil war.

“There’s a lot too it, and it’s a mas­sive his­tory that I’ve re­searched.”

Graham has worked on the novel for three years and is still fleshing out many of the char­ac­ters, in­clud­ing Liam.

“Liam doesn’t com­mu­ni­cate with his fam­ily, leav­ing his sis­ter to try to find him,” said Graham. “I’m still work­ing on his char­ac­ter, and fig­ur­ing out what kind of a guy would do that.”

Be­sides Liam and Mered­ith, the novel is filled with many other char­ac­ters.

“There’s a sergeant from Bath, Maine, there’s a sol­dier from Mis­sis­sippi with a wooden foot, there’s a pros­ti­tute in Nash­ville, there’s a Hun­gar­ian doc­tor, and then there’s Mered­ith’s mother and fa­ther, and broth­ers and sis­ters,” said Graham. “There’s a lot of char­ac­ters, and that’s why the novel tak­ing a while to do.”

Graham has writ­ten sev­eral nov­els, and says many of his char­ac­ters come from 1950s Parrsboro.

“Peo­ple ask, ‘where do you get your char­ac­ters?’ I say, ‘I knew them,’” said Graham. “They’re all based on peo­ple I grew up with. Real char­ac­ters in the 1950s.

Graham’s fa­ther was a lum­ber­man who em­ployed many peo­ple. He was also a judge.

“I still get peo­ple who come up to me to­day and say, ‘I was up in front of your old man three times,’” said Graham with a laugh.

He says there were a lot of lively char­ac­ters in Parrsboro when he was grow­ing up.

“They were idio­syn­cratic char­ac­ters that you don’t see nowa­days. Ev­ery­body now seems to be cut from a cookie-cut­ter,” said Graham. “We don’t seem to have the wild vari­ance of per­son­al­i­ties we had in the 1950s. At least that’s what I see.”

He hopes to pub­lish his new novel some­time next year.

“I’m, ba­si­cally, work­ing on the third draft now. What I’m do­ing is I’m go­ing in and I’m plumb­ing what I’ve al­ready writ­ten to make it bet­ter, to make it fuller,” said Graham. “I just added a new char­ac­ter to­day by the name of Lucy Fitz­patrick, she’s a mi­nor char­ac­ter, but I filled her out a bit more.”


Bruce Graham reads from a novel he is cur­rently writ­ing, and an­swered ques­tions, dur­ing a visit to the Four Fa­thers Li­brary on Oct. 25.

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