The writing from this era, roughly the early '60s to the mid '70s, is self-indulgent, reckless, and sometimes completely magical.
All three qualities manifest in the work of Dallas native Grover Lewis. Edited by fellow Texan magazine writers Jan Reid and W.
There's the requisite rock 'n' roll reporting live from the famously murderous Altamont concert, where Hell's Angels stabbed three fans in plain sight as the Stones rocked on, oblivious. Lewis also made a mark traveling with the hard-rocking and even harder coke-snorting Allman Brothers Band. Touring with rock gods and lurking on film sets no longer seems terribly transgressive.
In our "been there, done that" pop-culture present, it's hard to expect anyone not to shrug. And yet, even if the premise and "gonzo" tactics of many of Lewis' pieces fail the test of time, his prose still kicks considerable ass. In fact, what shines 30 years on is not Lewis' reporting too much of it was wasted on the lingering rants of drunks, vacuous aspiring stars, and vacuous rockers.
For those who pored over Rolling Stone and The Village Voice in its heyday, these pieces will evoke a nostalgia that's likely to give them more sway than they merit, not unlike contemporary somethings who still believe Star Wars is an art film. What stands out in Splendor are Lewis' own recollections, both on pop culture he was a film and music junkie and his own uniquely hellacious childhood.
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Witness the sober assessment of his kinfolk:. The backwardness I figured they couldn't help, but I resented their willingness to lick the hands of their oppressors Over time, I came to regard them - tribally, anyway - as patsies on a treadmill. Trying to reason with them was like slamming into a wall of soft cheese. Above all, you had to 'cut it. Docility was preferred over intelligence, guaranteeing the whittling-down of the individual to fit unvarying social molds.
This bred the kind of multi-edged boredom that comes from poverty locked into place by spiritual poverty.
Grover Lewis : The Wittliff Collections
When he was 8 and living in San Antonio , his parents shot each other to death "with a pawn shop pistol. He ran away from home, realizing that his options "were either suicide or homicide. A professor who taught both men would later remark that Lewis was the more talented.
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Splendor in the Short Grass is a gem of a collection, less for aspiring journalists than those interested in a Southern style of literary nonfiction that was never co-opted. Should a young tyro take too much inspiration from Lewis' sprawling, languid style he or she will face the likely prospect of an unpublished future. And there's the rub: As weird as the culture has become, no journal of consequence, even in the so-called alternative press, wants a 7,word piece on a concert, or a movie set wherein the writer features prominently as a character. It's not done anymore.
Sometimes it's not hard to see why. For even when executed by a pro like Lewis, the experiential quality can get kinda boring. They also pay tribute to Lewis's groundbreaking talent as a stylist, whose unique voice deserves to be more widely known by today's readers. Stratton Part I. Review quote "Your gonzo journalism library isn't complete without him. But the best piece here is his searing memoir of his white-trash Texas parents, who died in what was ruled a double suicide. Etched in acid and heart's blood, it is a terse masterpiece.
He lives in Austin, Texas. Rating details.
Splendor in the Short Grass: The Grover Lewis Reader
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