BORDER MUSIC by Robert James Waller


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 There's an old John Prine song, ``Spanish Pipe Dream,'' in which the singer meets a stripper who advises him to blow up his TV, move to the country, eat a lot of peaches, and try to find Jesus on his own. Waller (Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend, 1993, etc.) kick-starts his latest with a similar encounter between a stripper and a drifter: Texas Jack Carmine rushes to the rescue of a stripper when some ``nameless piece a' shit tore off Linda Lobo's G-string instead of putting money in it like he was supposed to.'' What follows has a little more sadness, a little more violence, and a lot less irony than the Prine song. Texas Jack is tailor-made not just to suit feminine fancy but to fill the empty pages that men reserve for the images of their alternate selves. ``He'd thought once or twice about joining up with the armies of conformity, then reconsidered and went on being a seldom hombre, dancing to some other song nobody else heard or even dreamed about hearing, living his days in a fashion that made Henry David Thoreau look like a regular citizen. Henry David spent only two years staring into the waters of Walden Pond, Jack Carmine had spent a lifetime doing something like that and never once saw anything resembling a reflection looking back at him.'' Jack's had some tough times. In fact, he was the gunner in the whirly-bird that lifted the last Americans off the roof of the US embassy in Saigon. Jack is GI Joe, Willie Nelson, a lover, a dancer, a crooner. The ballad of Jack and Linda proceeds to where any good American romance must: the road, and backwards into a troubled past. With references to country music and original Waller (not Fats) tunes written by the character of Bobby McGregor, the book yodels its themes of music and rootlessness. What it is, in fact, is a no-holds-barred romance for men. (First printing of 1,000,000; first serial to Playboy; Literary Guild main selection)

Pub Date: Feb. 7th, 1995
ISBN: 0-446-51858-1
Page count: 256pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1995


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