Tall tales and "true stories" are mixed here with author Jerry Craven's mind-teasing musings on culture and language. Starting with West Texas, Tickling Catfish builds its way surely through anecdotes and allusion into the ways of people elsewhere-from a street musician playing a leaf in Mexico City to gem smugglers in Malaysia, from Texas boys tripping cows to Singaporians listening to dogs bark in Chinese. And all the stories are told with an appropriate dose of sophisticated prairie humor.
In his art of telling stories, Craven balances timing, rhythm, style, and content. His style is at once elegant and simple, a mixture of up-tempo phrasing and brief story lines that flow naturally to one of three conclusions: punchline, moral, or wish. The stories share observations on customs, language, home, and human nature and serve as a hedge against parochialism, even when focusing on snipe hunts, armadillo grabs, and hog boxing. Whimsically illustrated by Jean Dixon and recognizable to readers anywhere, Tickling Catfish offers new, recent, or would-be Texans a cheerful companion in their quest for full Texas citizenship.
Jerry Craven, author of eleven books of nonfiction for children, three collections of poetry, and numerous short stories, is professor of English at West Texas A&M University in Canyon. For three years he wrote a weekly humor column for the Amarillo Daily News.
What Readers Are Saying:
“. . . a wonderful collection of essays and/or stories. . . . The stimulating distillation of folk wisdom in this book derives from columns Craven wrote for several years . . .” --Amarillo Sunday News-Globe
“. . . Full of well turned phrases, about little absurdities in life. Craven has a unique and uniquely Texan way of looking at things. Enjoyable reading.” --TOWA News
“ . . . Not only will Craven’s book appeal to lovers of prairie humor and to students of American culture, but linguists will also find much that is amusing and piquant, too . . . if you like Anguished English, which is another humorous look at language by fellow English professor Richard Lederer, you will enjoy Tickling Catfish.” --JASAT