Wednesday, August 3, 2011

That's Right (You're Not From Texas)

I finished the Calvin Trillin book on Texas, and it was good, but not as thrilling as his writings on travel & food. When writing about Texas, a lot of authors mistake the grand bravado of gestures to be the story. The fact that a Texas businessman has a giant desk and giant hat and talks about giant deals isn’t a story – it isn’t even story detail. That’s what our businessmen do, from used car dealers to Ross Perot. It’s no more exciting than telling me that your subject has brown eyes.

So, the most interesting part of book (really collection of essays) for me was in writing about a man whose body was found in a river. The authorities borrowed a super-strong magnet from a military base and drug it around the river, looking for the gun and a Rolex. They didn’t find the gun, but they found another person’s Rolex in this small-town river. I had never heard of the magnet thing before for searching in water and I so want to borrow one and head to the lake. I’d probably find 15 pennies and a shotgun shell, but even that would be kind of neat. I’m easily pleased.

I don’t want to turn you off on Calvin Trillin, though. He was a travel & food writer for dozens of years and has written some of the funniest books on food I’ve ever read. On a trip to rank barbeque, he found a place with barbequed mutton. The sign outside said, “Mary Had a Little Lamb. Won’t You Have Some Too?” Love. He’s infinitely quotable and I would sell my mother to go on an eating tour with him in New York. Read The Tummy Trilogy to start.


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