"Outlaw Novelist" to Speak Jan. 23

James Carlos Blake, a USF alumni and chronicler of outlaw life, returns to USF to speak and receive an award.

 

By Elizabeth Bird

Special to USF News

 

TAMPA, Fla. (January 15, 2013)Born in Mexico, raised in Texas, and earning his B.A. and M.A. in English from the University of South Florida, author James Carlos Blake has been hailed as "one of the greatest chroniclers of the mythical American outlaw life" by Entertainment Weekly.

The author of many acclaimed novels, essays, and short stories, Blake is returning to USF January 23, when he will speak at a public event, and receive the USF Distinguished Humanities Alumnus Award.

 

Blake claims Mexican, Irish, and English ancestors, including a British pirate who was executed in Mexico, and has worked as a snake-catcher, Volkswagen mechanic, swimming pool maintenance man – and college professor, including a stint teaching at USF.

 

His first novel, The Pistoleer (1995) centers on the infamous Texas outlaw, John Wesley Hardin, and introduced some of the themes that have characterized his work ever since, such as violence, honor, and morality. His third novel, In the Rogue Blood (1997), which chronicles the misadventures of two brothers during the Mexican-American War, won the prestigious Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction. Other novels include The Friends of Pancho Villa, Red Grass River, which focuses on a notorious criminal gang in early 20th century  Florida, andThe Killings of Stanley Ketchel, set in the early days of prize-fighting.

 

In addition to the Los Angeles Book Prize, Blake’s awards include the 1999 Southwest Book Award for Borderlands, the 1999 Chautauqua South Book Award for Red Grass River, and the 2007 Falcon Award for Under the Skin

 

While at USF, he will speak on History and Crime: the Lifeblood of Fiction, using “a free-form approach in which I present a general theme of history and crime as long-established sources of much of our greatest literature, and then discuss the salient characteristics of both historical and crime fiction, using classic works and my own for examples.” He will include readings from his most recent book, Country of the Bad Wolfes (2011), and from his upcoming novel, The Rules of Wolfe.

 

The event and award presentation will be in Interdisciplinary Sciences Building (ISA) Campus View Room, 7th Floor, on Wed., Jan. 23, starting at 6 p.m., with a wine and cheese reception/book signing before and after. Parking is available in the Collins Parking Garage, or Lot 1, off Leroy Collins Blvd. Blake’s visit is co-sponsored by the Department of English, the Alumni Association, and Research One. The event is free and open to the public.