“Live As If…” A Story of Life Told By Frye Gaillard

By: Dustin Petridge | Lifestyle Editor

On Jan. 28, the Stokes Center for Creative Writing and USA English professor Becky McLaughlin hosted a live book reading with Frye Gaillard, USA’s writer in residence. 

Gaillard recently published a book called Live As If… A Teacher’s Love Story, an intense memoir about his late wife Nancy Gaillard, who spent much of her life in the south educating young, elementary-aged students. 

Over an hour, Gaillard read excerpts from his book while providing historical context to give background on his wife’s life story, a narrative progressing for decades.

After his wife’s passing in 2018, Gaillard read C.S. Lewis’ own memoir as inspiration and relief for his traumatic “grief-quakes,” which he described as a harrowing time after an unexpectedly happy year of his life. According to him, Lewis’s book was the foundation for his own novel and an important piece of literature in his life. 

Due to the personal nature of his book, Gaillard stated that he held several reservations about writing his wife’s memoir.

“I wondered many times while writing this if I should really be doing this,” Gaillard said. 

Toward the end of his reading, Gaillard presented a dialogue to viewers with a question-and-answer session, where many thanks were given, and a few insightful questions asked. 

One question in regard to his early career was the influence of journalism to his success. Many times, Gaillard referenced James Baldwin’s works and interviewed people during the writing of “Live As If”. 

After giving further explanation on literature and some helpful advice for young writers, Gaillard closed the reading with McLaughlin, leaving those in attendance with an intimate life story and a handful of gems in the journalism world.

The live reading was a rare opportunity to gain a perspective into the background of Frye and Nancy Gaillard’s life in the south in the 20th century. To read Gaillard’s book, you can purchase a copy on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Photo courtesy of the University of South Alabama.