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Most folks outside the Grand Old Opry area probably wouldn't read a book just 'cause Tom T. Hall (""The Storyteller"") wrote it; after all, Hall's big hits (""Harper Valley PTA,"" ""Hello, Viet Nam,"" etc.) aren't exactly connoisseur's choice--they might even be considered the sort of stuff that gives Country Music a bad name. But through much of this grits-to-riches memoir, Hall turns out to be a surprisingly stylish and quirky fellow, laconically comic and appealing about his rise to an always-suspect stardom. Hall begins in Nashville, 1964, when, having written a couple of recorded songs, he arrived with $46 and his guitar and a rosecolored Cadillac to write more songs and live off $50-a-week advances from his publisher. He captures the unloveliest aspects of waiting to get famous in Nashville--the sitting-around-bars, the writer's block, the Lust-for-a-Hit: ""You give me a hit, and I'll run for fucking Congress. You give me a hit, and I'll kiss your ass on the Grand Ole Opry stage on Saturday night and get Minnie Pearl to hold your britches."" He's wry about his part-time labors as a song plugger (""a person seeking to be abnormally abused"") and instrumental side man (""a very dispassionate individual who lets you take the lumps when it's bad and count your money when you hit""). And, when ""Harper Valley"" skyrockets him to personal appearance heaven, he's on to the knack of being an entertainer: ""If you can't dazzle 'em with talent, baffle 'em with bullshit."" With ranches and touring and albums, Hall bogs down some, drifting into standard celebrity autobiography--and the good ole folksiness is sometimes overdone. But most of the time he's raunchily chatty and sneakily wise, and this free-form personal essay has more real-Nashville flavor than a lot of bigger, more substantial Music City books.

Pub Date: Oct. 5th, 1979
Publisher: Doubleday