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 Texas : Features : Book Reviews
 
BlowByBlowSteve BLOW BY BLOW
A Collection of Steve Blow's
Award-Winning Columns
from The Dallas Morning News

by Steve Blow

Three Forks Press, 2001


Reviewed by John Troesser
 
 
Steve Blow has been a columnist for the Dallas Morning News since 1989. He has been recognized as Texas' Leading Columnist. Thanks to his photograph on the cover, now you can recognize him too.

Blow was named outstanding journalism student in college. That doesn't mean he automatically became Texas' Leading Columnist when his turn came, it simply meant he had the potential. The respect and acknowledgement of your peers is hard earned. In journalism it is very hard earned.

He didn't set out to be a columnist, which is probably why his stories are so entertaining. It's our opinion that anyone setting out to be a columnist, should not be one. Blow is a reporter who recognizes a good human-interest story and then knows how to tell it.

In his forward, Blow describes his promotion to columnist (he claims to have been happy as a reporter) and his editor's sage advice of "let your subjects be the stars in your column - not you". He was probably given the column because he was already practicing that advice with his reports and interviews, but editors have to say something.

Steve Blow is from East Texas (Tyler) and that's an asset when you write about people. East Texas provides a rich stew of benevolent characters. Bad characters, should they be needed, are always available in the form of visitors from Arkansas or Louisiana. He can write about both, but his preference is for the former.

The collection is his personal choice from 1,500 columns he's written in his 12 years as columnist. The subjects are certainly the stars - but there's enough of Mr. Blow to appreciate where his observations are coming from. The man is very heavy on observation - refreshingly short on opinion.

For people who like to live vicariously, he provides more than enough adventures. Scuba diving, flying in jets and other "Type-A" behaviors are described in brutal detail. Then it really gets scary. He writes on the really dangerous adventures - like walking 16 miles to work in Dallas - on a Monday morning.

What makes the columns work so well is the thought behind them. Or on occasion the absence of thought. A $5.00 bill in the mail brought him to one story while a newspaper plea for money took him to another. Mr. Blow might take the bait for some stories, but he holds the hook comfortably - not in his cheek or lip. When Steve is surprised; the reader is surprised. When Steve is not surprised; the reader is still surprised.

If you don't get enough unpleasant people in your life, he'll introduce you to a couple of those too. But just one or two. There's a lot of humor, a little sadness and some columns that defy description - you'll just feel better for having read them. It's definitely a nightstand book.

We'd like to see most columnists in Texas with their best columns published in book form. It might give Steve Blow another title to claim. The diverse subjects of his columns are entertaining, but through Blow's words one also feels a sense of shared wonder.


September, 2001
John Troesser
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