author of the novel, The Chaneysville incident, made an impressive
showing at the kickoff of ODU's Literary Festival Monday night.
native of Pennsylvania and a professor at Temple University, read
several passages from his 400 Word-plus novel which is the story
of a historian's search for the truth about an Incident near his
hometown. The audience responded well to his graphic descriptions
of the differences in sanitary facilities on airlines, trains, and
buses, laughing repeatedly at all the appropriate moments. Another
passage placed emphasis on the relationship between the main character
John Washington and his childhood mentor Old Jack Crawley; the mood
changed from jovial to thought-provoking, philosophical.
The work has
autobiographical undertones, something Bradley says is virtually
impossible for a first-time novel writer to avoid and which interviewers
invariably pick up on and ask about. Some of the details in
Chaneysville incident are, of course,
from his own experience, though he adds, "I am about the book, the
book is not about me."
writing, and getting over the anger of learning about certain historical
discrepancies made this book a ten-year project for Bradley. He
began the work as a short story while a junior In college to follow
up a lead given to him by his mother when she was doing a historical
research project of her own. Something clicked inside of Bradley
when he saw the gravestones of thirteen slaves and he began the
writing, a venture which ended in the birth of the book.
to enjoy the reading himself and was apparently disappointed to
find that there were no questions afterward. The audience appeared
moved as Bradley made his reading.
Bradley has plans inside his head for a mystery ("just for fun")
and a novel about the 60's. With the success of The Chaneysville
Incident, however, many more opportunities are opening up for
him, and he says that he may not pursue either of these possibilities.
by John Waldeck