Nothing Happened and Then It Did: A Chronicle in Fact and Fiction [NOOK Book]

Overview

“The road novel—or the road half-novel—has rarely been funnier or more appealing.”—Benjamin Moser, Harper’s


In the great American tradition of funny road narratives— from Mark Twain to Hunter S. Thompson—a young journalist searches for his first big break down the lonesome highways of the Southwest and northern Mexico. Alternating chapters of fiction and nonfiction provide a hilarious account of Jake Silverstein’s misadventures on the hunt for an elusive magazine article—a ...

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Nothing Happened and Then It Did: A Chronicle in Fact and Fiction

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Overview

“The road novel—or the road half-novel—has rarely been funnier or more appealing.”—Benjamin Moser, Harper’s


In the great American tradition of funny road narratives— from Mark Twain to Hunter S. Thompson—a young journalist searches for his first big break down the lonesome highways of the Southwest and northern Mexico. Alternating chapters of fiction and nonfiction provide a hilarious account of Jake Silverstein’s misadventures on the hunt for an elusive magazine article—a journey that becomes a quest to understand the purpose of journalism and the nature of storytelling.

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Editorial Reviews

Benjamin Moser
The road novel—or the road half-novel—has rarely been funnier or more appealing than it is in Jake Silverstein's Nothing Happened and Then It Did. Half-novel, because at the beginning of the book we learn that the chapters alternate between fact and fiction…but the distinction ceases to matter as one is swept into this account of postcollege purposelessness.
—Harper's Magazine
Publishers Weekly
Silverstein dips between fact and fiction in his debut, ostensibly to shed light on the distinction between the two, and while some of the individual pieces—predominantly the nonfiction—are accomplished, the overarching mission remains unaccomplished. This collection starts on a solid non-fiction note as Silverstein arrives in a small west Texas town and stumbles upon clues to the unsolved 1914 disappearance of writer Ambrose Pierce. His search leads him on a wild goose chase, and the descriptions of a laughing devil inhabiting the Texas desert are among the most evocative in the book. Other highlights include his involvement in a too-good-to-be-true poetry contest, and the colorful characters he meets along the way. A piece on covering a legendary Mexican car race, meanwhile, bogs down in the details. The fiction doesn’t really go anywhere, with the exception of a story involving the search for lost treasure along the Gulf of Mexico. Silverstein writes with admirable economy, and some of the nonfiction demonstrates great potential, but this uneven effort’s blend of fact and fiction is more indecisive than incisive. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
A frustrated journalist goes where nothing happens, theorizing that when something does, he'll be there to get the scoop, in this Quixotic quest for the meaning of truth and untruth. Bored with covering city-council and school-board meetings for the west Texas Big Bend Sentinel, he investigates local lore like the mysterious disappearance of Ambrose Bierce and the devil's alleged residence in an area cave. With the possibility of a feature in National Geographic, he quits the paper to concentrate full time on his big story: the drought. When work on the story founders, he takes a temporary job as a driver for a New Yorker photographer assigned to take a single photograph that sums up the city where George W. Bush became an oilman. Chagrined to learn a New Yorker writer has scooped him on his drought story, he moves to New Orleans and writes poetry. An American Idol-style poetry contest lures him to Vegas, where he joins the ranks of hundreds of other bizarre and desperate wannabe poets. But semi-fictionalized Silverstein's journalistic yen won't die, and his credentials, however dubious, get him contracted to write about a treasure hunt based on a map purported to originate with Jean Lafitte, only to find himself literally blindfolded by the party's paranoid leader and told he's forbidden to publish anything about the trip. It's frustrations like these, along with his own journalistic shortcomings (advance research is not his strength) and a talent for either reproducing or inventing hilarious dialogue, that make these stories a self-deprecating, rollicking picaresque following the loose design of a real-life career that has included covering a bloody Mexican road race and the opening ofthe first McDonald's in Zacatecas. He ends with a Borgesian tale of a shorthand expert's search for his mysteriously vanished family, another oddly comical story that sticks to the theme of the murky lines where writing, reality, fact and fiction intersect. The juxtaposition of fact and fiction makes an engaging game of each piece, while Silverstein's eye for oblique detail and an accessible style in the tradition of adventurer-journalists like Samuel Clemens, Susan Orlean and Hunter S. Thompson brings him journalistic success where he claims to fail.
Los Angeles Times
When Silverstein is front and center, making wry jokes, musing about the road and what journalism might mean, Nothing Happened and Then It Did has a thoughtful momentum.— Carolyn Kellogg
The New Republic
[O]ne of the weirdest books I have ever read…[Silverstein’s] adventures, real or fictional, are at their worst highly amusing and at their best marvels of droll virtuosity…[A] greatly entertaining and extremely funny book.— Tom Bissell
Michael Washburn - Boston Globe
“A hilarious, subtle, and empathetic examination of writing and identity.”
Annie Dillard
“You'll find pleasures on every page of this warm and funny book. I've never read anything like it. Nothing Happened and Then It Did is a masterful literary debut.”
Antonya Nelson
“Nothing Happened and Then It Did cleverly eludes categorization. Part new journalism, part old-fashioned bildungsroman, by turns whimsical and edifying, very funny yet deeply profound, it is a creation both strange and rare. Jake Silverstein is the book's author and hapless hero, a character composite not unlike Cervantes and his fictional sidekick Sancho Panza. The great accomplishment is that the reader, in the end, does not care what is fact, what is fiction, because she has happily arrived at that much more elusive grail: truth.”
Sherman Alexie
“This book (Is it a novel? Or a memoir? Both? Something else?) is hilarious, poetic, lovely, and disturbing. It's filled with ghosts, bad poets with great hearts, treasure hunts, death-wish race-car drivers, and Mexican kids who weep when denied the chance to eat at McDonald's. It's a eulogy for dead American towns, dead American ideas, and dead American jobs. It crosses every aesthetic border as it crosses geographic, racial, and economic borders. You'll devour it.”
Rob Merrill - Associated Press
“Silverstein’s adventures and prose are first-rate.”
Tom Bissell - The New Republic
“[O]ne of the weirdest books I have ever read… Greatly entertaining and extremely funny.”
Carolyn Kellogg - Los Angeles Times
“When Silverstein is front and center, making wry jokes, musing about the road and what journalism might mean, Nothing Happened and Then It Did has a thoughtful momentum.”
Steven G. Kellman - San Antonio Current
“A marriage of gonzo journalism and magical realism. . . . An enchanting account of the apprentice’s sorcery.”
The Huffington Post
“Silverstein's adventures and prose are first-rate. From searching for the grave of Ambrose Bierce in West Texas (fact), to a treasure hunt in the Louisiana bayou (fiction), the memoir traces five years in the author's life when he moved across the American Southwest and Mexico hoping to find a story worth selling that would launch his journalism career.”
Harper's
“The road novel—or the road half-novel—has rarely been funnier or more appealing than it is in Jake Silverstein’s Nothing Happened and Then It Did…[The reader] is swept into this account of post-college purposelessness…his quest to become a roving eyeball is so entertaining that it doesn’t matter what’s happening, or what’s not.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393079333
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/16/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,298,525
  • File size: 803 KB

Meet the Author

Jake Silverstein is the editor of Texas Monthly and a contributing editor at Harper’s. He lives in Austin, Texas.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2012

    Hi

    Lol

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    Posted December 12, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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