On this episode, we’re rebroadcasting an interview Matt Tullis did with Earl Swift in November 2014. At the time, Swift’s book “Auto Biography: A Classic Car, An Outlaw Motorhead, and 57 Years of the American Dream” had just been published.
Swift has a new book out now. “Chesapeake Requiem: A Year With the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island” was published by Harper Collins, and is getting rave reviews.
Auto Biography is also a fantastic book. It tells the life story of a 1957 Chevy that, at the beginning of the book, is falling apart. He also delves deep into the life of the current owner, Tommy Arney. Arney had a brutal childhood. He dropped out of school in the fifth-grade, and lived a life of crime. But had also become a somewhat successful and controversial businessman.
The story of this car started as a five-part series for the Virginian-Pilot, where Swift had been a reporter for many years. In this interview, he talked about the differences between reporting for newspaper work and reporting for a book project.
Swift is a former Fulbright fellow in New Zealand, and is currently a residential fellow of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.