Maybe a decade ago, when I was a copy editor and worked with a team of fine folks, someone gave me a small book. One of those advance-copy type of things that gets handed from newsroom employee to newsroom employee.
This one was about … something. Zombies? I don’t recall. What I do recall is that I kept it on my desk for years. Not because I enjoyed it. Shit no. It was because every time I felt low, I just had to look at that book and remember that somebody got paid for writing something so goddamn terrible.
It was terrible. It was a hundred-some-odd pages of un-funny humor. This guy was an author? I could be, too.
I saw “Pearl: A History of San Antonio’s Iconic Beer”on eBay and promptly bought it a month in advance of its release date. I was excited. I have a lot left to learn on the mother beer of Texas, particularly when it comes to its decline and the reason it continues to limp along.
I was disappointed.
Jeremy Banas is a craft beer expert, I’m sure, but as a history writer, he’s given us uneven lumps of awkward prose. He stumbles along, jumping over bigger and bigger swaths of history until he reaches his comfort zone: “The New Pearl” -- which is not Pearl at all, just some new businesses on the old grounds.
Banas easily and confidently writes about the new craft brewer on the old brewery site, giving them several times as much text as he devoted to the last two decades of the beer named on the cover.
I could have written this book.
No, I could have done better.
Then again, shit.
Banas has written two books. Even the zombie book guy has written at least one.
I’ve written zero.
Overall rating: 4 out of 10.
Author’s language skills: 3 out of 10
What I learned that will most likely stick with me: These days, there is apparently no particular standard for what makes a history book.
Will it make the bookshelf? Yes, sigh. Until a better Pearl Beer book comes along. Which may be never.