HONKEYTONK GELATO: Travels Through Texas by Stephen Brook

HONKEYTONK GELATO: Travels Through Texas

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Forget Paris, Venice, the Seven Wonders of the World. The Texas that Englishman Brook limns here has them beat by a country mile. With wit, irony, insight, and Texas-style humor, he takes us to the backwater towns and sophisticated cities of the only state that has more cattle than people--and is proud of it! Dallas is ""a town where citizens live in a state of perpetual envy,"" and we come to understand, along with the author, why Janis Joplin, a native of Port Arthur, had been ""so anxious to acquire a Mercedes Benz."" We go behind the scenes at the Huntsville Texas Prison Rodeo (where all the contestants are convicts), and the WorLd Championship Chili Cookoff in Terlingua, where the dish ""exists as a form of aggression, a Texan denial of refinement and finesse."" We meet eccentric Amarillo helium magnate Stanley Marsh III at his Cadillac Ranch, where ""ten vintage Cadillacs have been lined up in a row and buried nose down in the middle of a field."" And we attend Willie Nelson's New Year's Eve concert and a less-than-thrilling debutante ""coming-out"" in Houston. We are treated to Texas-style bumper stickers: HAPPINESS IS A WARM GUN; CRIME DOESN'T PAY--NEITHER DOES FARMING; and a favorite, WELCOME TO TEXAS--NOW GO HOME! We also learn that branch banking is still against the law there, half of our country's rose crop comes from Tyler, and Panna Maria is the oldest Polish community in the US. Slightly disconcerting, jarring, one might say, are the Anglicizations of such words as colourful, tyres, labour, checque, and organise, but no trip is ever perfect. Entertaining for its offbeat observations.

Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 1985
Publisher: Atheneum