Bob Pickard

Bob Pickard

I grew up in Southern California and graduated from UC Berkeley, where I studied literature and journalism. I’ve been a professional writer all my career, working for newspapers, magazines and corporations. My wife and I moved to Franklin in 2021, and with children and grandchildren here and in San Diego, we’ve definitely become frequent fliers. I enjoy reading fiction and history, and love how Landmark is introducing me to a host of fine Southern writers.

Book Recommendations

Long, Last, Happy
Long, Last, Happy
Barry Hannah
Novelist and short-story master Barry Hannah is considered one of the most important writers of the South’s post-Faulkner generation. “Long, Last, Happy” is a comprehensive collection of his best short fiction that offers ample evidence of his wild, exuberant and stunningly original style. Consider story titles, such as “Midnight and I’m Not Famous Yet.” Or his ability to pack so much power into a sentence: “I decided I was going to quit f**king around and be a Christian.” Or eccentric characters ranging from small-town con artists to confederate cavalrymen and my favorite, oddball fishermen who regularly meet at a Mississippi lake pier to trade insults and tall tales. Beneath his earthy off-the wall humor and linguistic pyrotechnics, Hannah’s prose shines with warmth and love for his characters, who often walk a knife’s edge between joy and disaster. Just thinking about what’s in this book makes me smile.
Michael Herr
In 1968, Michael Herr spent more than a year covering the Viet Nam War for Esquire magazine as an embedded correspondent with few restrictions. Herr later said he went to the war for “complicated reasons of my own” and to write a book about it. Upon his return, he worked 18 months on the book before experiencing a “massive physical and psychological collapse.” Since its publication in 1977, “Dispatches” has been acclaimed as one of the best books ever written about the experience of war. It’s a disturbing, personal, compassionate and clear-eyed account of Herr’s year in hell that is vividly and beautifully written. The book knocked me out back then, and it’s just as powerful today.
Bridge In The Jungle
The Bridge in the Jungle
B. Traven
B. Traven is the mysterious, elusive author best known for his 1935 novel “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” but many consider this 1938 novel to be his finest. It’s set in a poor Indian village in the Mexican jungle, too small to appear on a map. The village is holding a party, and Indians from nearby settlements come to join in. The festivities have barely begun when they realize a small boy is missing. Everything turns upside down as the Indians desperately try to find the boy and console his frantic mother. The narrator is an American man staying at the village while searching for exotic skins and feathers to sell. As he tells the story, what emerges, without sentimentality, is a moving portrait of the love, dignity and humanity of the Indians. In his work, Traven consistently champions the poor and downtrodden, and he succeeds mightily here. I’ve read this novel four times, and it never fails to move me.
Collected Works Of Billy The Kid
The Collected Works of Billy the Kid
Michael Ondaatje
As a child growing up Sri Lanka, Michael Ondaatje (author of The English Patient) was a fan of tales of the American West. Years later, as a young poet and writer, he wanted to create something that countered the clichéd "comic-book" Western heroes he read about as a kid. Ondaatje spent two years weaving together an incredibly original account of the life of William “Billy the Kid” Bonney. As sources, he calls on newspaper stories and photographs from the 1880s, dime novels of the day, and his own wild, evocative prose and poetry, often told from Billy’s point of view. In only 118 pages, Ondaatje creates a vivid, unforgettable portrait of the Old West’s premier outlaw.
Anna Sachs
Rachel Dodge