Gene Fowler, University of Texas Press, $19.95, Softcover.
Gene Fowler, University of Texas Press, $19.95, Softcover.

Here’s a collection of some of the more interesting 20th-century Texas eccentrics Fowler calls “performing artists.” Like the millionaire who played lawman with gold-and-diamond encrusted guns and belt buckles, or the toothless oil worker with a pipe in his mouth who starred as the local Popeye and, of course, the last living survivor of the Alamo. Yes sir, and we mustn’t forget the men who claimed to be Jesse James, Billy the Kid and even John Wilkes Booth, none of whom were really killed but escaped to live secret lives in Texas! I approached this book as being a roadside guide to local loonies for Texans, but instead I found a universal nostalgia reminiscent of the old carnival sideshows. Fowler definitely  entertains in his book of a seldom explored side of Americana.

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