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.)
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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