Cover image for Things I like about America : personal narratives
Things I like about America : personal narratives
Ballantine, Poe, 1955-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Portland, Or. : Hawthorne Books & Literary Arts, [2002]

Physical Description:
220 pages ; 23 cm
She's got Barney Rubble eyes -- Failure of a man named love -- Where the rain belongs -- Never and nowhere -- A piano player enters the room -- Bingo clock -- How I lost my mind and other adventures -- La calidad de la vida -- An unfamiliar form of solitaire -- Things I like about America -- Estrellita.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E169.04 .B34 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Poe Ballantine's risky, personal essays are populated with odd jobs, eccentric characters, boarding houses, buses, and beer. He takes us along on his Greyhound journey through small town America (including a detour to Mexico) exploring what it means to be human. Written with piercing intimacy and self-effacing humor, Ballantine'stories provide entertainment, social commentary, and completely compelling slices of life.

Author Notes

Poe Ballantine currently lives in Chadron, Nebraska. His work has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The Sun, Kenyon Review, and The Coal City Review. In addition to garnering numerous Pushcart and O. Henry nominations, Mr. Ballantine's work has been included in the anthologies The Best American Short Stories 1998 and The Best American Essays 2006.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Over the years, the peripatetic Ballantine has logged countless miles roaming from California to the Midwest to Mexico. In a collection that may make some readers wish they could pack their portable typewriters and head for the nearest Greyhound station, he reflects on his wanderlust in 11 chronicles of odd jobs and odder adventures. But though Ballantine's tales of a life spent answering the call of the road initially seem extremely appealing, they ultimately tend to fall flat. "She's Got Barney Rubble Eyes," the story of his adolescent love affair with a nymphomaniac, kleptomaniac older woman, has its good parts, for example, but Ballantine doesn't let his adult wisdom shine through, and his recounting of his drugs-and-drink days feels like a reach for street cred. When Ballantine avoids indulging his penchant for the gritty, even prurient, his essays are more successful. His pursuit of smalltown America and reasonable employ, as well as his life between the thin walls of motels and boarding houses, are great topics. Ballantine's at his best when describing what it takes to survive, financially and otherwise, as a modern-day nomad. But he provides little sense of context, or of building his narratives to a rewarding conclusion and though the author obviously has the material for an excellent portrait of America, the anticipated insights and wealth of description born of such travel and adventure simply aren't quite here. (July) Forecast: Four of these "narratives" originally appeared in the Sun and the Kenyon Review, and Ballantine's work has also appeared in the Atlantic Monthly. It's hard to imagine his book debut making much of a splash, though sedentary would-be wanderers alerted to it should at least experience some vicarious thrills. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

1. She's Got Barney Rubble Eyesp. 15
2. Failure of a Man Named Lovep. 51
3. Where the Rain Belongsp. 67
4. Never and Nowherep. 87
5. A Piano Player Enters the Roomp. 101
6. Bingo Clockp. 115
7. How I Lost My Mind and Other Adventuresp. 129
8. La Calidad de la Vidap. 149
9. An Unfamiliar Form of Solitairep. 161
10. Things I Like About Americap. 181
11. Estrellitap. 213