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Nothing Happened and Then It Did: A Chronicle in Fact and Fiction Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 231 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (April 19, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393076466
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393076462
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 6.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #908,394 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In his first book, Silverstein, editor of Texas Monthly, offers eight wry essays with one intriguing twist: half of them are fact and half of them are fiction. He has a great deal of fun tweaking boundaries and bending perceptions, for it is often the factual accounts that strain credulity. Silverstein took his first journalism job in [Marfa], Texas, for the Big Bend Sentinel when he was 24. The barren land and wide-open skies of far-western Texas fire his imagination and his ambition, but finding the big story that will make his name proves arduous; in one hilarious running gag, he is forever being outmaneuvered by reporters from the New Yorker. Other chapters cover the most dangerous road race in the world, a search for pirate Jean Lafitte’s treasure in the Louisiana swamps, and a poetry contest in Reno, Nevada, in which Silverstein is forced to consider whether adding a dance routine to his recital of his poem would give him a competitive edge. A terrific combination of droll humor and fine writing makes this title one to savor. --Joanne Wilkinson

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. A Magill TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Faced with the twin dilemmas of the rising doubts about the veracity of memoirs and the West Texas's propensity for tall tales, Jake Silverstein has crafted an elegant solution in his finely written "Nothing Happened and Then It Did: A Chronicle in Fact and Fiction." Silverstein's account of his - mostly failed - youthful efforts to become a journalist after driving out to West Texas boasts a curious structure: the chapters are alternatively fact and fiction, knitted into a single flowing account. Searching for the bones of journalist Abrose Bierce and joining a team for a frequently fatal Mexican auto race (one which boasts an ex-Nazi mechanic)? Fact. Coverage of the opening of the first McDonald's in the only Mexican state without one and his search for Jean Laffite's treasure? Fiction.

One can't feel too bad for Silverstein's blundering efforts at journalistic success (he's now the editor of Texas Monthly), time and again hilariously foiled by The New Yorker. His keen observations, finely wrought characters, and self-deprecating humor all add to the book's success, as does the running question of which seems more improbably, his accounts that are fact or those that are fiction. A fine fun work, readers are sure to want to join Silverstein on his next road trip, whether real or imagined.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Richard Robertson on May 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is a stunning and wonderful book, an amazing first book. It's both fact and fiction, and yes, sometimes you can't quite tell which it is at the moment, but there are several things about the book you can trust absolutely. One is the prose. Every sentence counts. Silverstein is vivid, funny, keen-eyed, and smart. And while the book teases us about what we really know, there is an iron core of authenticity here. One thing you can trust is the language and the voice. Silverstein is always himself, and always good company. Another thing that is absolutely authentic is the place. Silverstein writes about Texas, Mexico, Louisiana. His West Texas is dead on. No one has written better about this part of the world. This book is a beautiful evocation of place, like A River Runs Through it. It is a great study of what it means to be a writer, like Joe Gould's Secret. It is wild and funny; Silverstein is Ishamel in the interior, a Bulkington of retail, an Ahab of Nuevo Laredo. A spectaclar debut, and no, I couldn't put it down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Another Old Guy on September 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I seem to be at odds with other reviewers, but at this point I am not even sure we read the same book. I did read the entire book, only because I was looking for the 'hook' the title promised, but there was none. The author states up front that the book is a mixture of fact and fiction, but I found both parts lacking in story and quite honestly the entire book is wandering and without goal...Could have easily been titled Nothing Happened, and then Nothing Happened...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Deep Reader on July 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Silverstein is among the most brilliant writers of nonfiction in America today, and his fiction, naturally, is pretty damn good too. The piece on the BS poetry contests is a tour de force.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Agapito Sustaita on May 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was a completely enjoyable book. The pace of this book tracks the material perfectly. It's easy to imagine drifting along through the various turns, advances, and stops.

Sometimes things move slowly, sometimes quickly, but always there are interesting characters and interesting observations. Even when things get weird, they always seem to make sense.
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