Two-Buck Chuck & The Marlboro Man: The New Old West
This eclectic, wide-ranging collection of essays on the diverse population and colorful history of Californiaâs San Joaquin Valley was evidently a labor of love for its author, who deploys a skilled raconteurâs charm in conveying details of the fertile place where he grew up. The Introductionâs pithy summary of how the mythology of the âOld Westâ both collides with and overlaps with the realities of the âNew Westâ is compelling and rich in possibilities, but its claim that somehow âAmericaâs True Westâ is manifested in the oral histories the book records is hard to substantiate or evaluate, and sometimes seems like yet more mythmaking.
The key chapters on Frank Franzia (the brash, cunning creator of the wildly successful Charles Shaw aka âTwo-Buck Chuckâ wines) and Darrell Winfield (the cowboy model for the icon but infamous âMarlboro Manâ cigarette ads) work hard to live up to the top billing they get in the bookâs title, but go on rather too long for most readersâ attention spans. A more sustained political or analytical framework would perhaps justify the authorâs personal fascination with such characters to an academic audience, but the book is evidently not intended as a pointed cultural critique.
|University of Nevada Press
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