Jack Ruby's Kitchen Sink by Tom Miller
Reviewed by Steve Rudd
I have long longed to visit the South-Western states of the USA, and the beautifully majestic Arizona in particular.
In this fascinating and factual book, Tom - who himself lives in Tucson, Arizona - recounts
all sorts of weird and wonderful tales from the region, and also presents tall tales from
California and the border with Mexico.
Structuring his tales into chapters of their own, one of the most interesting niches of this book
comes when the author discusses cult novelist Edward Abbey, a great man who wrote such
fantastic books as The Monkey Wrench Gang - a book that openly inspired a whole generation
of Eco-loving people who weren't afraid to fight big business, such as house-building
companies that were destroying land of pure beauty in the Californian mountains (for example),
and dam-builders such as those who built the hugely controversial Glen Canyon Dam.
Tom also spends time researching the origins of the worldwide dance craze, La Bamba. Sure,
the Ritchie Valens rock 'n' roll version of the song did spread like wildfire across
the world in due course, but the roots of the song itself go far deeper than that -
and have been maturing for far longer.
To cut a long - but nevertheless thoroughly engrossing - chapter short, to trace La Bamba
is to reveal a sweep of history and culture that began with Spanish slavers and
ends with an aisle seat in a multiplex.
Prior to this book, Tom had already written six books, and the majority of those too
were imbued with his passion for the South-West.
Through having visited a whole host of amazing places in the area, and having
met a plethora of interesting people along the way, Tom's writing is a joy to behold and savour.
So, if you too have a fondness for the area, or if indeed you know very little
about this arid corner of the USA, Jack Ruby's Kitchen Sink is sure to be an
education in itself on many levels, not least when Tom heads to the Mexican
border and learns all about the many thousands of desperate Mexicans who
vainly attempt to get into the USA every year, and who very often pay dearly
for their cross-borderline dashes...
So just you take care out there.
ISBN 0-7922-7959-X (first published in 2000; Adventure Press)
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