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STATEN, Vince 1947-

PERSONAL:

Born 1947.

ADDRESSES:

Agent—c/o Author Mail, Simon & Schuster, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.

CAREER:

Writer.

WRITINGS:

The Real Elvis: Good Old Boy, Media Ventures (Dayton, OH), 1978.

Golly Wally: The Story of "Leave It to Beaver," Crown (New York, NY), 1984.

(With Greg Johnson) Real Barbecue, Perennial Library (New York, NY), 1988.

Unauthorized America: A Travel Guide to the Places the Chamber of Commerce Won't Tell You About, Perennial Library (New York, NY), 1990.

Jack Daniel's Old Time Barbecue Cookbook, Sulgrave Press (Louisville, KY), 1991.

Ol' Diz: A Biography of Dizzy Dean, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1992.

Can You Trust a Tomato in January?: Everything You Wanted to Know (and a Few Things You Didn't) about Food in the Grocery Store, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1993.

Did Monkeys Invent the Monkey Wrench?: Hardware Stores and Hardware Stories, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1996.

Do Pharmacists Sell Farms?: A Trip inside the Corner Drugstore, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1998.

Do Bald Men Get Half-price Haircuts?: In Search of America's Great Barbershops, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2001.

Kentucky Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities, and Other Offbeat Stuff, Globe Pequot Press (Guilford, CT), 2003.

Why Is the Foul Pole Fair?; or, Answers to the Baseball Questions Your Dad Hoped You'd Never Ask, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2003.

SIDELIGHTS:

Writer Vince Staten specializes in books of trivia, offbeat history, amusing anecdotes, and nostalgic memories, all presented in what Mike Tribby, writing in Booklist, called "a warm, chuckling tone." Among Staten's works are: Unauthorized America: A Travel Guide to the Places the Chamber of Commerce Won't Tell You About; Ol' Diz: A Biography of Dizzy Dean; Can You Trust a Tomato in January?: Everything You Wanted to Know (and a Few Things You Didn't) about Food in the Grocery Store; Did Monkeys Invent the Monkey Wrench?: Hardware Stores and Hardware Stories; Do Pharmacists Sell Farms?: A Trip inside the Corner Drugstore; and Why Is the Foul Pole Fair?; or, Answers to the Baseball Questions Your Dad Hoped You'd Never Ask.

Staten has written two books concerned with baseball. In Ol' Diz he presents the life story of one of the sport's greatest legends. Dizzy Dean pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1930s, one of the "Gas House Gang" which included Leo Durocher and Pepper Martin. Sidelined by an arm injury, Dean retired from baseball in 1941 to become a popular radio and television commentator. Because Dean was adept at mythologizing himself, even his full name and date and place of birth are still matters of contention. He was also prone to verbal gaffs. Hit in the head by a baseball, he explained to reporters that the doctors had X-rayed his head "and found nothing." Staten's account of Dean's colorful life is "a scrupulously documented, well-rounded portrait of an American original," a Kirkus Reviews critic concluded. In Why Is the Foul Pole Fair? Staten presents not so much baseball trivia as trivia about the "the accoutrements of baseball," as Ed Zotti put it in the New York Times Book Review. Staten talks about turnstiles, beer sales, team nicknames, scoreboards, radar guns, baseball equipment, and much else, providing little-known facts even devoted fans may not know. "Staten provides good, trivia-packed reading," Morey Berger wrote in the Library Journal.

Staten's Unauthorized America is a guide to locations around the country where offbeat history occurred. Among the items listed are the stretch of road where actress Jayne Mansfield had her fatal car accident, the place Richard Nixon's dog Checkers is buried, Michael Jordan's high school in North Carolina, and the New York hotel suite where Marilyn Monroe met with John F. Kennedy. Under the chapter title "Historic Battle Sites" are listed the places where celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Sean Penn got into fistfights with reporters. "Here you will be guided to places where modern history was made," Clarence Petersen explained in Chicago's Tribune Books. As Thomas Swick stated in the New York Times Book Review, "With this book, you can get in touch with Elvis's doctor or the Rev. Al Sharpton's hairdresser. What traveler should be without it?"

Several of Staten's books take the reader behind the scenes of a familiar retail industry. Can You Trust a Tomato in January? is a look at the food sold in grocery stores, telling the behind-the-scenes stories of how the various products are made and delivered to the grocer's shelf. Winter tomatoes, for example, are picked still green off the vine in Mexico and take seven days to arrive at American stores. Laurie Graham in the New York Times Book Review described the book as a "lighthearted look at the origins, development and distribution of the foods Americans love," while a critic for Publishers Weekly dubbed Can You Trust a Tomato in January? "an entertaining social history of the supermarket and its contents."

The hardware store is the focus of Staten's Did Monkeys Invent the Monkey Wrench? Staten's father owned a hardware store in Tennessee and the author worked there as a boy. Staten draws on this experience while discussing the modern hardware store in an "aisle-by-aisle" manner, arranging his chapters by typical hardware store departments. Under each department, the reader learns the "anecdotal histories of nearly everything you can find," Tribby wrote. Along the way, Staten also explains that the hardware store not only sells products but gives advice on how to use those products. In this sense, customers go to a hardware store to find solutions to their problems. "A reader will come away with new respect for hardware men, along with a lot of fascinating trivia," Gregory M. Lamb noted in the Christian Science Monitor. Chris Goodrich in the Los Angeles Times Book Review admitted: "I'm a sucker for this kind of book, and Vince Staten has produced a good one."

Staten turns his attention to the corner drugstore in Do Pharmacists Sell Farms?, which takes the reader on a tour of the average drugstore and gives behind-the-scenes stories of the products found there. Staten also provides offbeat histories of some of the terms and practices of the business. "This is charming, nostalgic history," a critic for Publishers Weekly wrote. In Kirkus Reviews a contributor also praised the work, finding Do Pharmacists Sell Farms? to be "full of entertaining if trivial facts presented with good humor."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, February 15, 1984, Martin A. Brady, review of Golly Wally: The Story of "Leave It to Beaver," p. 838; February 15, 1992, Barbara Jacobs, review of Ol' Diz: A Biography of Dizzy Dean, p. 1081; June 1, 1993, Barbara Jacobs, review of Can You Trust a Tomato in January?: Everything YouWanted to Know (and a Few Things You Didn't) about Food in the Grocery Store, p. 1760; June 1, 1996, Mike Tribby, review of Did Monkeys Invent the Monkey Wrench?: Hardware Stores and Hardware Stories, p. 1650; June 1, 1998, Mike Tribby, review of Do Pharmacists Sell Farms?: A Trip inside the Corner Drugstore, p. 1686.

Christian Science Monitor, October 2, 1996, Gregory M. Lamb, review of Did Monkeys Invent the Monkey Wrench?, p. 15.

Harper's, May, 1989, Frank Gannon, review of Real Barbecue, p. 55.

Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 1991, review of Ol' Diz, p. 1522; May 15, 1998, review of Do Pharmacists Sell Farms?, p. 725.

Library Journal, March 15, 1984, Annie Davis, review of Golly Wally, p. 581; February 1, 1992, Morey Berger, review of Ol' Diz, p. 96; July, 1993, Linda Chopra, review of Can You Trust a Tomato in January?, p. 108; May 1, 1996, Jonathan N. Hershey, review of Did Monkeys Invent the Monkey Wrench?, p. 126; March 15, 2003, Morey Berger, review of Why Is the Foul Pole Fair?: or, Answers to the Baseball Questions Your Dad Hoped You'd Never Ask, p. 90.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, March 29, 1992, Dick Roraback, review of Ol' Diz, p. 6; May 19, 1996, Chris Goodrich, review of Did Monkeys Invent the Monkey Wrench?, p. 10.

New York Times Book Review, June 5, 1988, Florence Fabricant, review of Real Barbecue, p. 15; June 10, 1990, Thomas Swick, review of Unauthorized America: A Travel Guide to the Places the Chamber of Commerce Won't Tell You About, p. 49; April 5, 1992, Maria Gallagher, review of Ol' Diz, p. 21; August 22, 1993, Laurie Graham, review of Can You Trust a Tomato in January?, p. 12; May 25, 2003, Ed Zotti, review of Why Is the Foul Pole Fair?, p. 18.

Publishers Weekly, January 20, 1984, review of Golly Wally, p. 87; December 6, 1991, review of Ol' Diz, p. 66; June 28, 1993, review of Can You Trust a Tomato in January?, p. 73; April 22, 1996, review of Did Monkeys Invent the Monkey Wrench?, p. 55; May 4, 1998, review of Do Pharmacists Sell Farms?, p. 197.

Sporting News, April 6, 1992, Steve Gietschier, review of Ol' Diz, p. 43.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), June 24, 1990, Clarence Petersen, review of Unauthorized America, p. 8.

U.S. News and World Report, April 8, 1991, James Popkin, review of Unauthorized America, p. 68.*

Staten, Vince 1947-

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