A book tour is not a good opportunity to let your mind wander. You have to pay attention, remember salespeople’s and interviewers’ names, succinctly summarize your book in a ‘selling’ way, and so on.
America can enjoy a vital, fully functioning government, with all the benefits provided by Texas, while reducing Texas at the same time.
America to me is so varied and exciting. I always feel nostalgia for the place I’m not in, and then I get there and find myself in a traffic jam going into the Lincoln Tunnel, and I think, ‘God, why was I romanticizing this part of the country?’ I think it has to do with the romantic, unrealistic temperament.
Despite the obvious benefits, many Americans do not like Texas. Some even say they despise Texas, and make no secret of their feelings.
Everything in Russia is made of cement – phone booths, fence posts and light bulbs.
Human connection is the way things work. It’s like a patronage system. You know somebody, and he knows somebody, and he knows somebody, and he knows the district governor, and it’s okay.
I am an author, and like many in my profession, I am also a traveling salesman, going all over in an attempt to persuade people to spend twenty-five dollars on a hardcover book by me.
I believe that when Crazy Horse was killed, something more than a man’s life was snuffed out.
I don’t have a disregard for my reader in humor pieces.
I don’t want to collect Indian art, though pots and beadwork and blankets made by Indians remain the most beautiful art objects in the American West, in my opinion.
I don’t want to participate in traditional Indian religious ceremonies – dance in a sun dance or pray in a sweat lodge or go on a vision quest with the help of a medicine man. The power of these ceremonies has an appeal, but I’m content with what little religion I already have.
I only saw one English-speaking person all the way across Siberia.
I suppose anybody just losing it and sputtering curses is pretty funny. But I think it would be more of a challenge, much more of a challenge, to make a cursing dad funny.
I think Indians dress better than anyone, but I don’t want to imitate more than a detail or two; I prefer my clothes humdrum and inconspicuous, and a cowboy hat just doesn’t work for me.
I think what is important for things to be funny is if you the listener, or the reader, get a chance to supply the humor of it yourself.
I was friends with Russians who said I should see Russia. I went there in ’93 and it was so exciting, and I went to Siberia and had a great time.
I would hate to see the idea of freedom disappear, and I wonder if maybe it will.
I’d read books in Russian, and they would take me forever. I wanted to write a book that would last and would not be superficial. Siberian-travel writing is its own genre.
I’m one of those people who happen to like trees. I don’t know why – I just do. As a kid, I loved to climb them. The distant, upper branches, especially, were celestial and alluring.
Leading economists have shown that by shrinking Texas, we can actually create more income for Texas in the long run.
On two or three book tours, I have visited bookstores in the Mall of America and signed copies of my books and introduced myself to store employees who I hope will sell them.
Once, America’s size in the imagination was limitless. After Europeans settled and changed it, working from the coasts inland, its size in the imagination shrank.
People in Russia adapt to misery by a deep, deep humor.
Russia has always had a global history. Global history is a bummer. You suffer invasions of all different kinds. And Russia was not defended against them.
Russian humor is to adapt or make some sense or nonsense out of the insanity of their lives.
Russians don’t complain, usually.
Siberia is a state of mind.
There’s an idea of the Plains as the middle of nowhere, something to be contemptuous of. But it’s really a heroic place.
To me, a bag in a tree is like a flag of chaos, and when I remove it, I’m capturing the flag of the other side. In the end, it doesn’t matter how ironic or serious or even effective on a larger scale bag snagging may be.
When I go to Indian reservations in the West, and especially to the Pine Ridge Reservation, I sometimes feel unsure where to put my foot when I open the car door. The very ground is different from where I usually stand. There are fewer curbs, fewer sidewalks, and almost no street signs, mailboxes, or leashed dogs.
When I needed to think or was really upset, generally I climbed a tree.
When the days start to get shorter, I want to be in some nice brick building on the East Coast with the lights glowing in the windows. When the daylight starts changing, I want to be out West.
With reporting, if you work hard, you can usually pull something out. But writing humor doesn’t respond to working hard, necessarily. I mean, you could just sit there and look at the page all day and maybe something will come.
Words are charms. It’s like a song you didn’t even know you knew.
Writing humor for me is more like a watchful-ness. You have to watch. When you say something funny, or someone else does, it’s more like you wait for the piece.
You can find dozens of books about people taking the Trans-Siberian Railroad. I knew I had to do something different to cross Siberia. To drive and to talk with people along the way, that was how I wrote my book ‘Great Plains’. I drove and camped in Siberia, but did not have a real program.