Taylor, Bruce 1947-
TAYLOR, Bruce 1947-
(Bruce Bradley Taylor, Mr. Magic Realism)
PERSONAL: Born May 28, 1947, in Seattle, WA; son of C. M. (a postal employee) and Vivian (McCroskey) Taylor. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: University of Washington, Seattle, B.A., 1969. Politics: Liberal. Religion: "Twelve-step spiritual orientation."
ADDRESSES: Home and office—2001 E. Yesler Way, No. 23, Seattle, WA 98122. Agent—Hans Joachim Alpers, Utoprop Literarisch Agent, Gross Flottbeker Strasse 22607, Hamburg, West Germany. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer. Harborview Medical Center, Seattle, WA, mental health therapist, 1974–2002, codirector of wellness program until 2002. Stress management specialist and private practitioner of hypnotherapy, beginning 1974. Magic Realist Writers International Network, founder and director; American Renaissance Today (vice president). North Seattle Community College, writing instructor, 2002–. Shakespeare and Company, Paris, France, writer in residence, 1986; speaker at science-fiction conventions and writing clubs.
MEMBER: Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers of America, Council for the Literature of the Fantastic, PEN USA, Clarion West, Seattle Writers Association (president, 2002–04), Seattle Free Lances, Friends of Kafka's Uncle Society (founder and director).
The Final Trick of Funnyman and Other Stories, Ministry of Whimsy Press (Portland, OR), 1997.
Kafka's Uncle and Other Strange Tales, Afterbirth Books, 2005.
Edward: Dancing on the Edge of Infinity (online book), Scorpiusdigital.com, 2005.
Author of more than 1,000 short stories. Contributor of short stories and articles to periodicals, including Science Fiction Writers of America Bulletin. Consultant to Margin: Exploring Modern Magical Realism.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Kafka's Uncle: The Unfortunate Sequel; Anslenot in Ruptureland, a short story collection; Stormworld, with Brian Herbert; The Mountains of the Night; The Tales of Alleymanderous; My False Memories with Myshkin Dostoevskicat.
SIDELIGHTS: Bruce Taylor says that he was probably unconsciously motivated to write to please his family. When he began to accept that this would never be possible, he once told CA, he was able to motivate himself to write simply "for the joy of being creative." He also wished to add to the genre he called the "literature of the fantastic." Taylor keeps his creative momentum going with the belief that there are no guarantees in life and that death is possible at any time for anyone. He has commented that he works in spurts, going through occasional dry spells which can last for weeks and then launching intensely into writing, even while working at a full-time job. Taylor worked simultaneously as a mental health counselor, stress management counselor, and hypnotherapist until his retirement in 2002.
Of his role in contributing to the literature of the fantastic, Taylor told CA that he sees himself simply as a "commentator on the times in which I happen to be born." He says that both a sense of fun and integrity are characteristics of his work, which has been influenced by authors in science fiction and magic realism like Ray Bradbury, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Karel Capek, and Franz Kafka. Taylor first started reading science fiction at the age of twelve and later studied with science-fiction authors Robert Silverberg, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Frank Herbert. Silverberg purchased Taylor's first short story for national publication; Taylor would go on to write for the next twenty years, producing up to forty stories a month and writing novels and novellas. Thirty of his stories were published in The Final Trick of Funnyman and Other Stories.
According to reviewer Murray C. Steward of Zene, Taylor's collection is an effective combination of the "profound and absurd, and the grotesque and delightful." The worlds created in each story may be dreamlike, realistic, or something indiscernible in between. Real compulsions take on tangible form, as in one story where family expectations weighing down a boy are literally represented by a heavy coat that he never takes off. Other stories include matching pet spiders and their owners, talking animals, socks that lust, and a shoddy kitchen appliance which is compared to Hitler. Steward remarked, "Taylor's professional background [in psychology] … has clearly helped to shape his fiction" in new and surprising ways. For example, one story features a doctor working with patients trying to move beyond particular issues. The doctor suggests that one patient part with the dead cat he wears around his shoulders, and the patient refuses to give the cat up. Steward agreed with John Dalmas's introduction to the collection that Taylor's work is "too individual, too unclassifiable, too good for the mass marketing men to understand it."
Jenny Lynn Zappala of Writers NW complimented the author for his ability to "transform inner demons into outer demons" and remarked that the writing is guaranteed to take the reader into previously unimagined realms. Taylor continues to advocate the genre of magic realism, which he explains has been slower to catch on in North America than in Latin countries. His approach to writing can be summed up in his comment to CA that "I write because I have to. It's not about selling; it's about finding an outlet for what's in my imagination. I never know when I start out to write just what will bubble up. It really is great fun."
Taylor later added: "Probably the biggest change in my writing came about in 2001 with the publication of my article 'A Brief History of Magic Realism' in the Science Fiction Writers of America Bulletin. After that publication I realized, through my admittedly cursory exploration of Web sites, that there appeared to be no Web site devoted exclusively to the exploration and promotion of Magic Realism, a concept of writing whereby how the normal becomes strange and the strange becomes normal is explored. While such writing has long been popular in South America, writing such fiction in North America has only recently become more widely known. In the film industry, Magic Realism is more widely known through such movies as The Truman Show, What Dreams May Come, Like Water for Chocolate, Moulin Rouge, and Finding Neverland. With all this in mind, I established the Magic Realist Writers International Network, only to discover soon thereafter that another Web site, Margin: Exploring Modern Magical Realism, had been founded just the year before. I contacted the editor and host of said Web site, Tamara Sellman, and discovered that, first, she lived only two miles away from where I did, here in Seattle, and second, she was very receptive to a collaborative process. So I sent her a copy of my book, The Final Trick of Funnyman and Other Stories, which she liked and reviewed on Margin. We then became collaborators with our respective Web sites; she handled much of the literary archive of literature, and I focused on the writing of Magic Realism and the contemporary art and film of Magic Realism. Soon I was a consultant to Margin. Not long after, in the spring of 2004, Oprah On-Line, which was featuring Marquez's book One Hundred Years of Solitude as a book club selection, contacted Margin for background information on Magic Realism. When the program about Marquez and the book was aired on television, it went out to 23-million viewers worldwide. Within the last two years, my visibility as a writer and as a writer on Magic Realism has been astonishing, and the offers of publication of my work have been more than I could have ever hoped for."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Writers NW, fall, 1997, Jenny Lynn Zappala, review of The Final Trick of Funnyman and Other Stories, p. 7.
Zene, 1997, Murray C. Steward, review of The Final Trick of Funnyman and Other Stories, pp. 22-23.