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Nothing Happened and Then It Did: A Chronicle in Fact and Fictionby Jake Silverstein
Synopses & Reviews
The timing couldn't be better--as scandals erupt over journalists and memoirists who've cooked their books--for a work that explores our difficulty in separating fact and fiction, while explicitly demonstrating how they differ and what they share.
In prose so fine and wry it makes the back of your neck prickle, Jake Silverstein narrates a journey he undertook through the American Southwest and Mexico, looking to become a journalist. His picaresque travels are filled with beguiling and hilarious characters: nineteenth-century author Ambrose Bierce; an unknown group of famous poets; a twenty-first-century treasure hunter in the Gulf of Mexico; an ex-Nazi mechanic shepherding an old Mexican road race; a stenographer who records every passing moment; and various incarnations of the trickster devil.
As bold, ambitious, and funny as it is unconventional, Nothing Happened and Then It Did is a deep and lasting pleasure.
"Silverstein dips between fact and fiction in his debut, ostensibly to shed light on the distinction between the two, and while some of the individual pieces — predominantly the nonfiction — are accomplished, the overarching mission remains unaccomplished. This collection starts on a solid non-fiction note as Silverstein arrives in a small west Texas town and stumbles upon clues to the unsolved 1914 disappearance of writer Ambrose Pierce. His search leads him on a wild goose chase, and the descriptions of a laughing devil inhabiting the Texas desert are among the most evocative in the book. Other highlights include his involvement in a too-good-to-be-true poetry contest, and the colorful characters he meets along the way. A piece on covering a legendary Mexican car race, meanwhile, bogs down in the details. The fiction doesn't really go anywhere, with the exception of a story involving the search for lost treasure along the Gulf of Mexico. Silverstein writes with admirable economy, and some of the nonfiction demonstrates great potential, but this uneven effort's blend of fact and fiction is more indecisive than incisive." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Fact and fiction vie to tell the story of a young journalist bedeviled by the devil and seeking greater truth.
About the Author
Jake Silverstein is the editor of Texas Monthly and a contributing editor at Harper's. He lives in Austin, Texas.
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