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A Guide to Western Civilization or My Story Paperback – June 1, 1988


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press; 2nd edition (June 1, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385296711
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385296717
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,522,460 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

For the most part, Briggs (Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In) rambles on unchecked here in an insane, offensive flow that ranges from the ridiculous to the absurd. He picks on Mexicans ("you wake up one day and find out you're a Meskin yourself and you know what? You don't wanna change your shirt anymore"), "the Frenchies," Mel Torme, blacks (he describes "a resettlement camp for Negro tap-dancing families"), Shirley MacLaine and, particularly, the Women's Movement. He pens country songs ("The Ballad of the Death Row Vegetarian" and "You Said You Were a Virgin, but Your Baby Ain't Named Jesus"), and a story line that is desultory and vague ("The reason I'm gonna do that is that Life never stays on the subject"). The plot involves the romance of Joe Bob and Joyce Karnes (aka Jose) who meet when Joe Bob and his best friend Rhett Beavers start America's "first titty bar." They marry, she splits, he tries to find her and, in the process, fractures the English language and all vestiges of good taste. Joe Bob's philosophy is best summed up by Joe Bob himself: "Blessed are the poor and the ones that know how to turn bullshit intoa free meal." Briggs, who is actually John Bloom, hosts The Movie Channel
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Aside from the fact that both authors are Texas humorists, these two books are quite dissimilar. Briggs, familiar to cable TV viewers as the host of a weekly feature on The Movie Channel , has written what might be called the only 100 percent fact-free autobiography ever written, starting in his "birthplace" of West Civilization, Texas. Briggs fulfills his promise that he will not stay on the subjectbecause life never doesby rambling over a wide range of subjects, including sex education, topless bars, bass fishing, the National Organization of Women, immigration laws, and encyclopedias. Those who enjoyed his Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In (Delacorte, 1987) will also like this book. Nichols (not the movie director) has assembled a very readable collection of pieces from his column for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. It will strike a chord with almost any readerthere is material on joggers, real world IQ tests, books on family trees, microwave ovens, dealing with phone solicitors, the art of worrying, and cats. Readers won't be able to resist sharing his humorous insights. Nichols's book is the better choice; Briggs's will be at home only in large libraries with broad collection development. Ken Phifer, Montgomery Cty. P.L. & Montgomery Coll. Lib., Rockville, Md.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "grinlv" on March 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is Joe Bob's "life" story and general commentary on life in Grapevine, TX, and America as a whole. If you know who he is you know there's a lot of intelligence underneath the hayseed facade. Mr. Briggs is a great figure of pop culture and that ain't no bullstuff!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Cziraky on August 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
This hysterically funny "autobiography" of drive-in movie critic Briggs is one of the best humor novels ever written. Taking a well-deserved swipe at over-hyped celebrity books, Briggs goes through life with a bemused grin on his face and not too many thoughts in his head. His recounting of how he invented the first topless bar in America is a scream, and his life as a Country/Western star is a hoot, too. Don't miss this one, even if you aren't familiar with Joe Bob's drive-in movie columns. Also, it actually predates many overinflated celeb autobios, like SEINLANGUAGE, PRIVATE PARTS, and ENTER WHINING.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jared Smith on April 6, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
From reading Joe Bob's great compilations of Dallas Times Herald reviews ("Joe Bob Goes to the Drive In" and "JB Goes Back to the Drive In") featuring clever anecdotes before getting to the inevitable boob and head count, I thought a novel would be the perfect place for JB's prose.. after reading "Western Civilization" I think his wit works better in the short form.

This one runs out of steam a bit quicker than its spiritual predecessor, Hunter Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" in which Hunter labors under the pretense of searching for the American dream; I'm not sure what Joe Bob was searching for in "Western Civilization" but I think I'd like to get back to reading some drive in movie reviews.

Read it if only as a precursor to current gen writers such as Cris Hendrix, but look for "Goes to the Drive In" and the follow up "Goes Back to the Drive In" if you want the best of Joe Bob Briggs.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Casey C. Corpier on July 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
A great read for any Fan of Monstervision and Joe Bob Briggs

The story of How he was born and raised, his many troubles with the law and how he found love in all the wrong places

it's a good fun read
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Joe Bob Briggs's fictitious biography suffers from some of the same faults that "Iron Joe Bob" did: there's quite a bit of repeated material, albeit reconstituted to fit the larger narrative, and the overarching plot hits a few low ebbs throughout the story, yet " A Guide to Western Civilization, or My Story" manages to hit more than enough comedy home runs to make it a sound follow up to Briggs's collections of Drive-in columns.

It's odd to read an entire book by Briggs that rarely dips into the drive-in; instead, his story moves from his childhood through starting his own titty bar, becoming a country singer and finding the love of his life. All of this is, of course, done in his trademark wit that shines brightest when he seems to go off on seemingly unrelated tangents.

Here are a few highlights you'll want to look out for: how Briggs was charged with sexual assault in grade school, how he ran a school hard gambling racket, the songs he wrote while pursuing a career in country music, and his tour of the world's topless bars.

While not as consistently hilarious as his column and not nearly as valuable as his later film analysis books, this one stands as his best humor story and--in a way--the apex of the Joe Bob character in pop culture. I'm still hoping against all hope that Joe Bob's got one last round in him, and it's work like this keeps me wanting more.
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