Thursday, February 25, 2010

Literati Glitterati

This is a new series on celebrity authors.

Usually you will find an autobiography of sorts here. Today, I am shifting gears a bit and featuring a novel written by wrestler Mick Foley.
Foley has been a professional wrestler since 1986. He had two best sellers, although they were both of the autobiographical nature. Unlike a lot of autobiographies, Foley's were written entirely by him, after he dismissed his co-writer (ghost-writer), figuring he could do it better by himself. In 2003, Foley's first novel Tietam Brown was published.
Antietam "Andy" Brown V is a troubled 17 year old just out of reform school. Andy lost his mother at birth and was abused by his stepfather. He is reunited with his father, Antietam "Tietam" Brown IV, and together they attempt to start fresh.
Andy is not only emotionally damaged, but physically as well. He is missing an ear and has a damaged right hand. This causes even more problems as Andy tries to fit in at high school. It seems that everything around Andy is violent and ugly, yet he struggles to find happiness in all of the mess.
One bright spot in Andy's life is Terri Lynn Johnson, the school's homecoming queen. I won't reveal what happens with this young couple or how the book ends, but I will say it is surprising and entertaining.
Foley insists there isn't anything autobiographical about Tietam Brown. Either way, he captures the teenage angst of Andy in such a compelling way. You can't help but to be drawn to Andy. You really deeply feel his highs and his lows.
A few years ago, Laurie and I talked to Foley about Tietam Brown. According to Foley, he tried "to tell a tale of innocence in a violent world." Laurie asked him about the violence and dark images and Foley said that he understood what she was saying, but still felt it was a "positive message".
Foley said that he got a lot of the material from stories he heard and people he met in wrestling. He even credits wrestling with giving him the experience needed to create characters. Foley said, "I have been doing that for my entire wrestling career."
There has been talk of a movie version of Tietam Brown. Foley thinks wrestler-actor Terry Funk would make a good Tietam IV. This resulted in excellent banter between Laurie and Funk, who seemed surprised that Foley would connect him to the abusive father.
There are some plot holes and some contrivances, but Tietam Brown is a riveting read. I couldn't put it down. I recommended Tietam Brown to several friends (non-wrestling fans) and they all enjoyed it. While none of us would say it is going to be a classic, we all agreed it was quite an unusual book and an excellent first novel.

Mick Foley and me in Novi, MI-May 2008.

1 comment:

JoJo said...

I'm not a huge fan of Foley, but I pretty much agree with your take on Tietam Brown. It isn't great, but pretty darn good and it definitely kept me glued until the end.