Book Brahmin: Jeff Guinn

photo: Ralph Lauer

Jeff Guinn, investigative journalist and former books editor at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, is the author of several works of nonfiction, including Manson, The Last Gunfight: The Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral and Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde. He is a member of the Texas Institute of Letters and the Texas Literary Hall of Fame. Guinn ventured into fiction last year with Glorious, the first installment in a sweeping trilogy of the American West. The second novel in the series is Buffalo Trail (Putnam, October 6, 2015). He lives in Fort Worth, Tex.

On your nightstand now:

Lawrence in Arabia by Scott Anderson. It's a great book. To me, this is how history should be presented--providing fascinating context, explaining why things happened the way that they did, not just what happened.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Once and Future King by T.H. White. It's still my favorite book.

Your top five authors:

Robert Olen Butler, Suzan-Lori Parks, A.J. Liebling, Paul Auster and James Lee Burke.

Book you've faked reading:

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, both in high school and college. Much later I tried again, and realized what I'd missed the first two times.

Book you're an evangelist for:

A Texas Jubilee by James Ward Lee, a masterful collection of short fiction published by TCU Press--kill if you have to, but get a copy.

Book you've bought for the cover:

None. I'm too cheap.

Book you hid from your parents:

None. They encouraged me to read whatever I wanted.

Book that changed your life:

Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck. I was 15 when I read it and thought, "Hey, I want to do something like this."

Favorite line from a book:

"People are people, and if you put some of them down [write about them] the way they are, they likely wouldn't be happy. I don't blame them." --Goodbye to a River by John Graves.

Five books you'll never part with:

The Once and Future King by T.H. White, The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe, The Gates of the Alamo by Stephen Harrigan, A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole and The Sweet Science by A.J. Liebling.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

The Once and Future King by T.H. White.

Of all the authors you personally admire and have met, who gave you the most memorable advice:

John Irving, who told me, "So many writers say that they want to make readers think. I want to make readers feel. That's when a book really matters to them."

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