Saturday, May 14, 2011

LeRoy "Tuck" Tucker: Richard Irby Reports on this New 'Young' Writer . . .

LeRoy "Tuck" Tucker
Photo by Richard Irby
(Image from Area Wide News)

LeRoy Tucker, whom we know here mainly as "Tuck," has gotten a write-up by Richard Irby in the central Ozarks publication Area Wide News: "LeRoy 'Tuck' Tucker: Lifelong storyteller puts some tales on paper" (May 11, 2011). I like the way that Irby introduces our man:
"I was born, I'm a Fulton County, Sharp County person. I graduated from Ash Flat High School. Sort of. I was an awful student . . ."

One question from me ('where were you born?') and LeRoy "Tuck" Tucker is off and running.

Interviewing a man with a low, mesmerizing southern voice that rumbles up from deep within and erupts with a torrent of words, pouring out and mixing up and eventually making a point, is easy work, if you're a good listener.

"As a kid, I lived in Fulton (County), at Kittle, a half-mile off 62 on Highway 289 . . ."

Tucker was always observant, although he admits to remembering the "colorful characters" of his childhood and "the little mundane, absurdities of life," as much as the big events that have passed before his eyes.

In his 1930's Ozarks' corner of the world, "People were poor. Absent of any hope of substantial gain, they were content. Content and happy."

A man with that kind of gift of language and expression should be a writer.

And, at 80 years old, that is what Tuck Tucker has become.
Irby tells how Tuck got started writing, and I hadn't heard the details before, so I learned something about that from this article, and I also discovered where his literary town of "Climax" comes from:
The story of how Tucker first began putting his tales on paper begins with a family crisis.

"Around 1990, my daughter in Michigan, with four kids, was in a difficult position," Tucker remembers. "Those kids needed support and I was back here in Arkansas, so I started writing them letters. They evolved into fiction stories that were serialized. I would tell a little and stop until the next letter, to keep them interested."

The kids loved the stories and LeRoy enjoyed writing them.

"Before the Kittle community, where I grew up, came to be, there used to be a store and post office, combined. It was called Climax, Arkansas. It was closed as a business in 1918. I heard about Climax but never saw it in my lifetime."

"Something caused me to take over Climax in my mind," Tucker continues. "Climax was reborn when I moved to Jonesboro. I re-did two stories I'd written and put them in Climax."

If Climax was back in business, it needed townspeople, so Sheriff Bulldog Martin began patrolling and Doc Cliff began doctoring and Johnny Frog began gambling.
I get a mention or two, though I've again morphed into a "Jeffrey" -- my fate is to be misunderstood and misrepresented in life, I guess:
Tucker admits he is no expert in putting a book together and was struggling with the project when, magically, his online blog "Folk Liar of the Ozarks" produced some expert help in the form of a college professor in Seoul, South Korea.

The professor is Horace Jeffrey Hodges, a Salem native, who came across Tucker's writings as he scouted the web for postings about the Ozarks.

"Tuck is a funny, creative and enthralling storyteller," Hodges writes on his Web site, The Gypsy Scholar.

In an exchange of e-mails, Hodges found out about Tucker's book project and offered to help edit it.

Hodges is most impressed by Tucker's ability to "capture the Ozark dialect that was already fading in my childhood" and his "gift for storytelling."

Hodges made no effort to "clean up" or lessen the thick backroads, "hillbillyness" of Tucker's dialog or descriptions.

He saw his job as organizing and punctuating, so that the stories flowed smoothly.
I wish that I'd done a better job -- I seem to have overlooked some "organizing and punctuating" . . . but Tuck is happy enough with the result:
Tucker sees it as good fortune that "a homesick Ozarks boy on the other side of the world" found his blog and offered his help.

"That guy has helped me a lot," says Tucker. "I begged him, 'you don't have time to edit my work,' but he insisted. I need to find some way to reward him."

Hodges says his reward would be for people to discover the 80-year-old new author.

"Tuck deserves a strong following, a readership that appreciates good storytelling. So read his book, and spread the word."
I stand by those words. Read Tuck's book. Irby tells you how to get a copy:
Climax 1: Cotton on the Rocks can be ordered online through Amazon Books. Author listing: L. "Tuck" Tucker.

Signed copies are available by contacting Tucker at:
You therefore are now without excuse and shall be found missing from the pages of the Lamb's great heavenly Book of Life come Judgment Day if you don't work your way through the pages of Tuck's great earthly book of life today . . .

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