Diary of a Country Bookseller

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

That Romance of Bill Terry's

Bill Terry, a former UPI reporter in San Francisco and past editor of Arkansas Times Magazine, now living in Golden, Mo., has done the most surprising thing: he has written something of a bodice ripper titled Scions, a generational novel about two families at war with each other and their own dark, internal impulses.

The surprise is that Bill Terry is, for those of you who know him, a fairly rough and ready guy and the last person who you would expect to write a Romance, which, in both style and at heart, is what Scions is all about.

A plain spoken guy who looks and sounds like he's closed a few joints in his day, Terry clearly had a good time writing Scions.

It starts off as the story of Orion Cashion who, brutalized by his experiences in the Civil War, returns home to find his young and beautiful wife in the arms of his brother, Leander. The wife is dispatched, the brother nearly so. Orion runs away to Louisiana, the nearly dispatched brother, Leander, runs away to California. Much mating and skullduggery ensue.

One hundred years later, William Crail, who has fallen on the California side of the family, travels to New Orleans for the purpose of writing the Crail-Cashion family history. He falls in love with Susan, the beautiful wife of evil Jack Cashion. She falls in love with him. Much mating and skullduggery ensue. It is all terrific, readable fun.

Scions is a departure for Terry. The Watermelon Kid, Terry's first novel, is an ironic and very funny romp through Eastern Arkansas and reminiscent of the work of Arkansas' best writer, Charles Portis. The Husband, Terry's 2006 novel about the break-up of a marriage, is set in Eureka Springs and is a bittersweet and rather lovely story.

Scions resembles neither of these earlier works and was, from my extremely limited experience as a reader of romances, probably written to appeal to a larger segment of readers than Terry has enjoyed in the past.

Terry makes a serious contribution to our local Ozark Mountain reputation as a home and haven for writers and is a familiar figure to many of us. It is a pleasure to see that he is still writing and writing well. Scions is dedicated to Carol Ann Engskov and Carla Youngblood, Berryville's librarians, in well deserved recognition of their contribution to our cultural and civic life.

Scions is available at Amazon, Ebay, and better bookstores.

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