BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

Loved it, but a buck was about right ...

I had a good "dollar store day" yesterday, picking up $102.75 worth of books for $5 ... one of which was this little gem. I was surprised that The Wife was unaware of who Kinky Friedman is, as I had been at least peripherally (I've never been drawn to much exposure to country music) aware of him since the 70's. If you're similarly unfamiliar with Kinky, he's a long-time "satirical" country musician (Kinky Friedman & the Texas Jewboys), an author of a couple of dozen mystery novels and various volumes of social commentary, a columnist for Texas Monthly, and recently a (serious) candidate for the Governorship of Texas. He's close with Bill Clinton, George Bush and Jesse Ventura ... and is pretty much a legend in the right circles.

Anyway, Cowboy Logic: The Wit and Wisdom of Kinky Friedman (and Some of His Friends) is a collection of brief aphorisms from the Cowboy perspective, collected over a number of years. Crediting thirty or so friends, from Willie Nelson to Don Imus (who also contributed the dust jacket photo of Friedman), and from "Captain Midnight" to the aforementioned Gov. Ventura, he is probably most indebted to the classic "cowboy humor" illustrations of Ace Reid, several dozen of which appear throughout the book. Only in a rare handful of cases does he identify what bon mot came from which source, but this is explained in this snippet from the introduction:
This book was fun to put together, ought to be fun to read, and hopefully, will be a financial pleasure. It may seem deceptively simple, but I consider it to be one of the greatest literary achievements of my career. This is because is represents a lifetime of stealing other people's lines. That being as it may, I am proud to point out that nothing in this book has been borrowed. Even I would not sink that low.
Now, I'm not much of a laugh-out-loud kind of guy, but this collection had me guffawing and irritating the family by reading them various bits, so I did quite enjoy the half an hour or so it took me to swing through this. Which is my one caveat here: there's not much meat on these papery bones. Sure, Sufi teacher Idries Shah can get away with a 200-page book that's got a 2-page introduction and all otherwise blank pages (for $25) as a "teaching exercise", and avant-garde artist John Cage can be celebrated for 4′33″ ... but somehow the $17.95 coverprice of this seems pretty steep for what is certainly under an hour of reading (albeit highly amusing reading). There are only one or two observations like the following on each page, padded out with the previously noted "cowboy cartoons":

Courtesty is owed. Respect is earned. Love is given.
A happy childhood
is the worst possible preparation for life.
I believe musicians can run this state better than politicians.
We just won't get a lot done in the mornings.
A lot of folks died in the Bible,
but a hell of a lot more died because of it.
Man's ability to delude himself is infinite.
If you hear a Texan exclaim, "Hey, y'all, watch this!",
stay out of his way. These are likely the last words he will every say.
The art of writing fiction
is to sail as dangerously close to the truth as possible
without sinking the ship.
Talent is its own reward.
If you have it, don't expect anything else.
One good aspect of being mediocre
is that you're always at the top of your game.

Again, this is not to say I didn't very much enjoy the book ... it's just that I suspect that it got into the "dollar store market" because it's a GREAT read for a buck, but would be an inner struggle (unless one was personally interested in supporting Friedman's political campaigns) at cover price.

If you can't find Cowboy Logic at your local dollar emporium (it does seem to have been dumped into the aftermarket, appearing to be officially out-of-print after just over 3 years since its release), it can be had via the Amazon new/used guys for as little as 37¢ used or under $3 new (with, of course, the $3.99 shipping charge added on). I'd say if you stumble over this "out there" for cheap, do pick it up, as it's a fun read, but take into consideration that it's a brief read if your paying much more than I did!

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Tags: book review

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