Synopses & Reviews
Yes, I do have a Texas connection, but, as we say in the Midwest, where I grew up, not so's you'd know it. So Calvin Trillin introduces this collection of articles and poems about a place that turns up surprisingly often when he's ostensibly writing about something else. Whether reporting on the American scene for the New Yorker, penning comic verse and political commentary for the Nation, or writing his memoirs, Trillin has bumped into Texas again and again. He insists that this has not been by design . . . there has simply been a lot going on in Texas. Astute readers will note, however, that Trillin's family immigrated to the United States through the port of Galveston, and, after reading this book, many will believe that the Lone Star State has somehow imprinted itself in the family's imagination.
Trillin on Texas gathers some of Trillin's best writing on subjects near to his heart--politics, true crime, food, and rare books, among them--which also have a Texas connection. Indulging his penchant for making snide and underhanded jokes about respectable public officials, he offers his signature sardonic take on the Bush dynasty and their tendency toward fractured syntax; a faux, but quite believable, LBJ speech; and wry portraits of assorted Texas county judges, small town sheriffs, and Houston immigration lawyers. Trillin takes us on a mouthwatering pilgrimage to the barbecue joint that Texas Monthly proclaimed the best in Texas and describes scouting for books with Larry McMurtry--who rejects all of his sleepers. He tells the stories of two teenagers who dug up half a million dollars in an ice chest on a South Texas ranch and of rare book dealer Johnny Jenkins, who was found floating in the Colorado River with a bullet wound in the back of his head. And he recounts how redneck movie reviewer Joe Bob Briggs fueled a war between Dallas's daily newspapers and pays tribute to two courageous Texas women who spoke truth to power--Molly Ivins and Sissy Farenthold.
Sure to entertain Texans and other folks alike, Trillin on Texas proves once again that Calvin Trillin is one of America's shrewdest observers and wittiest writers.
"These 18 previously-published articles, many seen originally in The New Yorker, deal with the state to which Trillin's paternal grandparents emigrated only a few years into the 20th century, and tackle food, politics, crime, literature, and several other subjects. 'By Meat Alone' deals with barbecue in general and Snow's BBQ in Lexington in particular, named the Lone Star state's top barbecue joint in 2008 by Texas Monthly. 'In central Texas,' Trillin writes, 'you don't hear a lot of people talking about the piquancy of a restaurant's sauce or the tastiness of its beans; discussions are what a scholar of the culture might call meat-driven.' Pieces on Texas politicians continue to carry weight: 'The Dynasticks,' 'If the Boot Fits...' and 'Presidential Ups and Downs,' about former presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, will arguably be relevant forever. The same can not be said of 'Mystery Money,' about two teen-age boys who find half a million dollars, which fizzles despite promise; written in 1984, it now feels slight. The disappointments are rare, however, and these essays will impress Texans and non-Texans alike. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.