The raunchy, raucous life of a Texas journalist.
Reporter and screenwriter Cartwright (HeartWiseGuy, 1998, etc.), winner of the Texas Institute of Letters Lon Tinkle Award for Lifetime Achievement, displays his talents as a storyteller in this snappy memoir of his 50-year career. Praised for his writing by a high school teacher, the author gravitated to a degree in journalism; in 1958, he began a stint as sportswriter for the Fort Worth Press. There, he met two writers who became lifelong friends: Bud Shrake and Dan Jenkins. “Bud, Dan, and I drank together, plotted together, and talked nonstop about the books we intended to write,” Cartwright recalls. Soon, the three moved on to the Dallas Times Herald and the Dallas Morning News, forming “the best staff of sportswriters anywhere, ever.” In the 1960s, life in burgeoning Dallas was good, made better by beer, Dexedrine, and “the joyous and liberating effects of pot.” Besides his career, Cartwright chronicles his four marriages and many girlfriends; children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren; and his travels, houses, restaurant feasts, and birthday parties. The deaths of his eldest son from leukemia and of his third wife from cancer are quiet and moving interludes in a tale that rolls merrily along. Cartwright recalls some of his big stories: a profile of the notorious stripper Candy Barr; a piece on satanic rituals allegedly perpetrated on children in day care; a sad portrait of a family on welfare, which won the 1977 Stanley Walker Award from the Texas Institute of Letters; and an exposé of Filipino holy men who claimed they could perform medical miracles. These were contributions to Texas Monthly, where Cartwright found a welcome home and worked for 25 years. Although modesty does not seem one of the author’s attributes, gratitude is, especially for good friends, such as Willie Nelson, Ann Richards, and, of course, Bud and Dan.
A crisp, entertaining memoir from a happy man.