Review: My Daddy Was A Pistol And I’m A Son Of A Gun

When people hand me books, I tend to read ’em.  My Dad handed me this one when I saw him over Christmas break.  He’d been killing some time in a used bookstore and he liked the title.  It’s a great title to get you to pick up a book, so I see how it drew him in; Lewis Grizzard, the author, pulled it out of a country western song for just that reason.  My Daddy Was A Pistol And I’m A Son Of A Gun is also a great title because it sums the book up so well.  Grizzard’s father was larger than life, and their relation shaped him.

The title is so universally appealing that it is easy to imagine that the book is about fathers and sons in general.  It is not.  This is about a specific father and son, a larger-than-life engaging but eventually tragic drifter and his son.

Grizzard does a great job at getting all of his enormous father on to paper.  His daddy was such a man of extremes that most people trying to think about him would have to constrain themselves to one or two aspects, to write the man into a caricature.  Grizzard manages to give a fully realized picture without pulling a punch or failing to give credit.  Getting something like that right in your own head is hard enough; putting explaining it to someone else on paper is much harder.

He looks at his father’s influence on himself with the same clear eyes.  Again, clearly sizing that up and presenting it honestly is a feat.

All that would only be interesting to Grizzard and maybe a mental health professional except that Grizzard writes an entertaining yarn.  This is entertaining in the best sense of that word – diverting and interesting.  This is a great story told to keep an audience listening.  The yarn is much more than a shaggy dog story, but its told with the rhythms that hold a listener’s interest without exhausting their patience.  Being honest and engaging simultaneously is Grizzard’s great achievement here.

Strongly Recommended.

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