Meet Miss TragiComic Texas, author of a personal blog titled My Modern TragiComedy. No, wait, allow me to introduce you to Sandy Saavedra, aspiring writer turned creator of ‘short, sharp and edgy’ posts for Nacho Papi, LatinoNow’s website. Wait, before you get too comfortable, please shake hands with Dominga Saavedra, the real woman behind the story. All three are one and the same and her novel, Lone Star Legend is Gwendolyn Zapeda’s attempt to find her main character’s true identity while learning what’s really of value. The challenge is maintaining her integrity in the world of blogs, posts and life at the speed of light on a computer screen.
It’s a wild ride: fast, sexy but somewhat disappointing. The book lulled me into feeling like an insider but left me wishing it hadn’t been so predictable. I wanted more substance from Sandy, more angst over the trade offs she’s repeatedly forced to make to stay in a heartless, breathless career. Time after time she gives in and sells out, saving her redemption for an unconvincing finish. I also didn’t want to be so constantly reminded of how today’s web-trolling youth are coerced into looking at appearances and scandals to try and find their role models, seduced by bright, shiny and all the wrong reasons.
Lone Star Legend has flashes of brilliance almost despite itself. Zapeda manages to convey a strong sense of place (Austin, Texas) mainly through honky tonks, chick coffee bars and random dirves out into the country where from time to time I had hopes for some real depth and discovery. However, reduced to sound bites, her characters suffer. Her mother, father, short-lived academic boyfriend, and co-workers including poor Angelic, come off as stereotypes and feel one-dimensional. Even Tio Jamie, The Chupacabra and quiet hero here, falls short. Thankfully Sandy rides off into the sunset hard at work on a book about her great-aunt, Linda. That’s the book I am waiting for, my appetite whetted by the rare glimpses into an old soul through cameo appearances via journal entries.
Still, at heart, Lone Star Legend tells an important story. It works as a modern day cautionary tale. What are we really asking for when we go in search of fame? How much privacy can anyone who puts herself on the Internet honestly expect to maintain in her life? What happens to ethics when there’s money to be made?
Lone Star Legend is often funny, smart and hip. I only wished it had gone deeper which might be an oxymoron given the world it describes.
Amelie lives and works on a pond in Cape Cod. She shares her home with her husband and two sons and both reads and writes whenever possible. Her ‘day job’ is in social services.
This book was provided free of any obligation by Hachette Book Group. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.