Reid, Jan 1945-
REID, Jan 1945-
PERSONAL: Born March 18, 1945, in Abilene, TX; son of Charles Cleon (a refinery worker) and Elsie (Shelton) Reid. Education: Midwestern University, B.A., 1968; University of Texas, M.A., 1972. Politics: "Disgruntled and dismayed." Religion: "Fallen fundamentalist."
ADDRESSES: Home—232 Dallas, New Braunfels, TX 78130.
CAREER: Freelance writer and journalist. Employers Casualty Co., Dallas, TX, insurance underwriter, 1968-70; reporter, Mt. Pleasant Tribune, Mt. Pleasant, TX, and New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, New Braunfels, TX, 1972-75; writer, 1972—. Military service: U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, 1964-70.
MEMBER: Texas Institute of Letters.
AWARDS, HONORS: Dobie-Paisano fellowship, 1977; National Endowment for the Arts fellowship.
The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock (journalism), photography by Melinda Wickman, Heidelberg Publishers (Austin, TX), 1974, revised edition, photographs by Scott Newton, University of Texas Press (Austin, TX), 2004.
Deerinwater (novel), Texas Monthly Press (Austin, TX), 1985.
Vain Glory, illustrated by Mary Cecile Gee, Shearer Publishing (Fredericksburg, TX), 1986.
(Editor) Andrew Sansom, Texas Lost: Vanishing Heritage, photographs by Wyman Meinzer, Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (Austin, TX), 1995.
(Editor) Andrew Sansom, Texas Past: EnduringLegacy, photography by Wyman Meinzer, foreword by Bob Bullock, Texas Parks and Wildlife Press (Austin, TX), 1997.
Close Calls: Jan Reid's Texas, Texas A&M University Press (College Station, TX), 2000.
The Bullet Meant for Me, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 2002.
(With Lou Dubose and Carl M. Cannon) Boy Genius:Karl Rove, the Brains behind the Remarkable Political Triumph of George W. Bush, PublicAffairs (New York, NY), 2003.
Contributing editor of Texas Monthly. Contributor to magazines such as Esquire, Mother Jones, GQ, and New York Times Magazine.
SIDELIGHTS: Journalist and novelist Jan Reid's writing career spans more than thirty years and includes both fiction and nonfiction. Reid's first book, The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock, is a chronicle of the country and western-infused "redneck rock" that developed in the early 1970s in Austin, Texas. "Reid relates the mechanics of how Austin became the center, and he provides interviews of the leading songwriters, performers, and backstage businessmen whom he tracked down in 1973-1974," wrote Renee Rose Shield in Ethnomusicology. Practitioners included Willie Nelson, identified by Reid as the leader of the movement, as well as both popular and lesser-known performers such as B. W. Stevenson, Michael Murphey, Jerry Jeff Walker, Steve Fromholz, and others. Reid explains how the unorthodox atmosphere of Austin, "both intellectually sophisticated and authentically rooted in country," allowed the energetic, hybrid style to thrive. "Reid is capable of very good descriptions in this medley," Shield remarked. "He can conjure the subtlety of the blend of people and styles and moods that make this music, and the picture is convincing."
Reid's novel Deerinwater tells the story of Jared Ramey, "an alienated ex-hippie returning to his home town to find himself and perhaps establish a relationship with his young daughter" who still lives in the town, wrote Sharan Gibson in Houston Chronicle. What he finds is that very little has changed in the tiny town, and old hatreds, jealousies, and corruptions still hold force. Gibson expressed frustration with the book because "there is so much writing talent wasted on a book with a weak plot and too many flat characterizations," but remarked that "there is much finely honed language and imagery in this novel."
A lifelong Texan, Reid often writes about the sights, sounds, and concerns of his native state. Close Calls: Jan Reid's Texas is a collection of Reid's writings about Texas. Along with profiles of the famous and the obscure in Texas, Reid offers inside information on his assignments over the years, on the topics, places, and people he has encountered while pursuing the story.
In The Bullet Meant for Me: A Memoir Reid explores idea of machismo and what it means to be a man in America, and in so doing relates the harrowing story of how his career was nearly cut short by a Mexican thug's bullet. An avid amateur boxer, Reid visited Mexico in early 1998 to attend a fight by his good friend, superfeatherweight boxer Jesus Chavez. After the fight and a night of drinking, Reid and his buddies clambered into an unsanctioned taxi cab that drove them to a remote area of Mexico City to be robbed. When Reid took a swing at his gun-wielding assailant, the bandit fired—and the bullet lodged in Reid's spine, turning him into a paraplegic. The thieves vanished into the night, but the pain and trauma and permanent effects of the night remained. Through intense determination and the close support of friends and family, Reid recovered from his wound, leaving him to wonder how things might have been different. His recovery also allowed him to create a memoir that is "a serious and illuminating meditation on how his life has been influenced by images of masculinity" that, consciously or not, led him to put himself in positions of danger, wrote a Publishers Weekly critic. "With precision and dedication to texture that has characterized his writing through the years, Reid turns a night of horror into a meditative point of organization, and he does so with no apparent impulse toward melodrama or denial," wrote James Hoggard in Denver Post. "Simultaneously haunting and heartwarming, this memoir brings the horror of random (or almost random) violence fully to life and demonstrates how one man used that experience as a stepping-stone toward his own intellectual enlightenment," commented Andrew Ervin in Washington Post. "There's a wealth of strong imagery in this memoir," Hoggard remarked, "but what truly generates its power is the magnetism of decency that allows the writer, and vicariously the reader, to rise beyond fear and the chaos of rage."
With Boy Genius: Karl Rove, the Brains behind the Remarkable Political Triumph of George W. Bush, Reid and co-authors Lou Dubose and Carl M. Cannon offer a detailed and critical look at the intellectual power behind the presidency of George W. Bush. A largely self-taught college drop-out (he left the University of Utah when his mother committed suicide), Rove began his political work in Texas in the late 1970s, when he worked for the senior George Bush's political action committee during a time when Democrats were losing control of Texas. The book provides "a workmanlike analysis of the Texas political wars where Rove honed his skills and an overview of his role since Bush moved into the White House," wrote John F. Pitney, Jr., in Reason. The authors assert that as Bush's policy advisor, Rove "may exercise influence beyond even that of Michael Deaver under Ronald Reagan, Lee Atwater under Bush pere or Dick Morris under Bill Clinton," remarked Christopher Caldwell in New York Times Book Review. Rove is clearly a highly intelligent individual who stands in contrast to his boss, whose intellectual prowess has been a recurring subject of controversy. "Boy Genius is entertaining and well-written but it breaks little new ground," stated Jay Root in Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Despite biographies and "a fair amount of press coverage," Pitney, Jr., observed, "Rove remains a mystery—which is a good position for a loyal political aide to be in."
Reid once told CA: "I am most interested in writing fiction, though it is a far more difficult form for me than journalism, which I will continue to pursue on a limited basis. I am intrigued by the forces of history, but not very much by academic historians; I might like to try my hand at biography. I wish I were more proficient in Spanish, for language is the real border between the two American civilizations, not the Rio Grande."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Prospect, April, 2003, E. J. Dionne, Jr., "The Co-presidency," pp. 52-53.
Austin American Statesman, December 11, 1995, Anne Morris, "Vanishing Texas Beauty; Book Captures Wildly Inviting Visions of States Dying Scenery," p. E1.
Booklist, October 1, 1985, review of Deerinwater, p. 746; February 15, 2002, Brendon Dowling, review of The Bullet Meant for Me, p. 976.
Dallas Morning News, March 20, 2002, Bryan Woolley, review of The Bullet Meant for Me.
Denver Post, April 28, 2002, James Hoggard, "Memoir Begins with a Gunshot to the Spine," review of The Bullet Meant for Me, p. EE02.
Economist, February 22, 2003, "The Limits of Spin: American Politics," review of Boy Genius: Karl Rove, the Brains behind the Remarkable Political Triumph of George W. Bush.
Ethnomusicology, May, 1978, Renee Rose Shield, review of The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock, pp. 358-359.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, February 24, 2003, Jay Root, "Bush Aide Karl Rove Gains Clout with Wins."
Houston Chronicle, October 20, 1985, Sharan Gibson, "Believable as the Big Armadillo," p. 26.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 1985, review of Deerinwater, p. 746; January 1, 2002, review of The Bullet Meant for Me, p. 35.
Kliatt, fall, 1977, review of The Improbable Rise ofRedneck Rock, p. 43.
New York Times Book Review, January 19, 2003, Christopher Caldwell, "PAC Man," review of Boy Genius: Karl Rove, the Brains behind the Remarkable Political Triumph of George W. Bush, section 7, p. 5.
New York Review of Books, May 1, 2003, Elizabeth Drew, "The Enforcer," review of Boy Genius: Karl Rove, the Brains behind the Remarkable Political Triumph of George W. Bush, pp. 14-17.
PR Week, May 13, 2003, Douglas Quenqa, "Boy Genius Shares Political PR Wisdom," review of Boy Genius: Karl Rove, the Brains behind the Remarkable Political Triumph of George W. Bush, p. 20.
Publishers Weekly, August 9, 1985, review of Deerinwater, p. 64; January 28, 2002, review of The Bullet Meant for Me, p. 278.
Reprint Bulletin-Book Reviews, October 4, 1977, review of The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock, p. 27.
Reason, October, 2003, John F. Pitney, Jr., "Accidental Genius: Is Karl Rove Really Bush's Brain?," pp. 58-62.
Sunday Gazette-Mail (Charleston, WV), April 6, 2003, Paul J. Nyden, "The Brains of This Outfit; Karl Rove Made George W. Bush the President He Is Today," p. 3F.
Washington Post Book World, March 17, 2002, Andrew Ervin, review of The Bullet Meant for Me, p. T13.
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Web site,http://www.jsonline.com/ (April 1, 2002), Bryan Woolley, "Writer Lives to Tell Story of Harrowing Visit to Mexico."
Salon.com,http://www.salon.com/ (May 2, 2002), Dan Oko, review of The Bullet Meant for Me.
Shearer Publications Web site,http://www.shearerpub.com/ (February 24, 2004).
Texas A&M University Press Web site,http://www.tamu.edu/upress/ (February 24, 2004)*.