STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN

CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE

The brief life of the legendary Texas blues-guitarist, well told by Patoski (a senior editor at Texas Monthly) and writer/radio producer Crawford, both of whom live in Austin and saw dozens of Vaughan concerts. Raised around Dallas, Vaughan (1954-90) was a guitar prodigy whose greatest influence was his older brother Jimmie, also a guitarist. Whatever musical instrument Jimmie tried to play, Vaughan was sure to imitate him, and as his brother got better instruments, Stevie played Jimmie's electric hand-me-downs. At ten, Vaughan already was feeding on the legends of Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Johnny Ace, and Bobby ``Blue'' Bland. Determined to make a living off his guitar, he quit school and took his group to Austin, which was then a mirror of the hippie paradise in San Francisco. Even so, Vaughan was neck-deep in low self-esteem and forever hid behind his guitar, but as his powers became more widely known, his intensity as a musician only deepened: During one gig, after playing his finger callus off down to the quick, he borrowed some Superglue, glued the callus back on, and went on with the show. Vaughan played blues with all the giants, from Eric Clapton to Jeff Beck, but eventually drugs and booze numbed the soul out of his playing. At 32, glazed and whacked out, he went to a Georgia rehab, then—with a hand from fellow recoverer Clapton—made a fabulous comeback, remaining sober to his last breath. Just before his death in a helicopter crash, following a concert with Clapton and some fellow legends, he made a record with brother Jimmie, their first together. Released less than three weeks after Vaughan's death, Family Style instantly zapped the charts. Patoski and Crawford do an exceptionally strong job on Vaughan's final three years sober, his early fears, and his huge comeback. (Thirty-five b&w photographs)

Pub Date: May 27, 1993

ISBN: 0-316-16068-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1993

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A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.

THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US

A MEMOIR

In her first nonfiction book, novelist Grande (Dancing with Butterflies, 2009, etc.) delves into her family’s cycle of separation and reunification.

Raised in poverty so severe that spaghetti reminded her of the tapeworms endemic to children in her Mexican hometown, the author is her family’s only college graduate and writer, whose honors include an American Book Award and International Latino Book Award. Though she was too young to remember her father when he entered the United States illegally seeking money to improve life for his family, she idolized him from afar. However, she also blamed him for taking away her mother after he sent for her when the author was not yet 5 years old. Though she emulated her sister, she ultimately answered to herself, and both siblings constantly sought affirmation of their parents’ love, whether they were present or not. When one caused disappointment, the siblings focused their hopes on the other. These contradictions prove to be the narrator’s hallmarks, as she consistently displays a fierce willingness to ask tough questions, accept startling answers, and candidly render emotional and physical violence. Even as a girl, Grande understood the redemptive power of language to define—in the U.S., her name’s literal translation, “big queen,” led to ridicule from other children—and to complicate. In spelling class, when a teacher used the sentence “my mamá loves me” (mi mamá me ama), Grande decided to “rearrange the words so that they formed a question: ¿Me ama mi mamá? Does my mama love me?”

A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-6177-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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