OF BULLETINS AND BOOZE
A NEWSMAN'S STORY OF RECOVERY
Genre: Journalism / Memoir
Publisher: Texas Tech University Press
Date of Publication: March, 2017
Number of Pages: 284
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Bob Horton began his journalism career as a reporter for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Innate skill and good fortune took him from a modest Texas farm upbringing to Washington, DC, where he was thrown into the high-pressure world of the wire service, first as a correspondent for the Associated Press, and later for Reuters news agency. The stress was intense, but he found the rush to be intoxicating.
From his early days covering the Dallas murder trial of Jack Ruby, through three colorful decades as a newsman, Horton often found himself witnessing history in the making. He covered the Pentagon during the early days of the Vietnam War, was on board a Navy ship in the Mediterranean awaiting Israel’s expected attack on Egypt, was witness to the Watergate burglary trial, and attended a Beverly Hills church service with then-President-elect Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy.
The success Horton enjoyed as a journalist mostly hid the dark side of his career: a gradual descent into alcoholism. Of Bulletins and Booze candidly recounts the unforgettable moments of Horton’s career, as well as more than a few moments he would just as soon forget.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?
Having completed only my memoir, I can't claim a particular field or genre. Over the years I've tried to write novels based on the kind of events and situations that I have experienced. I have yet to succeed. I still have that one work-in-progress that I hope will be a story worth reading.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
To paraphrase Dorothy Parker, I didn't really enjoy the writing of it. I was glad to have it written and done. The moment I realized that I had set down the last words of my memoir gave me one of the most exhilarating feelings I'd ever experienced.
Who are some of your favorite authors you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?
The books which I remember most after many years are built around conflicts of one kind or another, whether of war, politics, or personal turmoil. Certain biographies and histories stand out in my mind. "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich," by William Shirer ...Theodore S. White's "Making of the President 1960" ... Myra Friedman's biography of Janis Joplin, "Buried Alive" ... Michael Herr's "Dispatches," with its images from the Vietnam War era ... . Favorite novels: Flaubert's "Madame Bovary," Hemingway"s "A Farewell to Arms," and Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby."
What literary character are you most like?
What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was least useful or most
I was influenced early in my years with the AP by Rudolph Flesch's recommended style of writing news stories. Flesch, hired as a consultant by the AP, stressed the use of short, uncomplicated sentences, especially in introductory paragraphs (the "lead," in journalistic parlance). I remember thinking that the opening sentence of my stories rarely should exceed 28 words. That could make the lead punchier but, if carried throughout the story, tended to create a herky-jerky kind of reading. While using shorter sentences is generally best, well-formulated longer sentences can combine to make a smoother read.
Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?
I 'm retired but I do work on call at various hours (I drive vehicles for a dealership to or from customers or other dealers around Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and sometimes beyond). I write in the early morning, usually starting before dawn; the calls to work often disrupt my writing schedule and whatever creative flow I may have going. Staying off the keyboard too long creates an inertia which can be difficult to overcome.
What cultural value do you see in writing and storytelling?
The history of man would be incomplete without the written word.
How has your formal education influenced or impacted your writing?
To a degree, I suppose, but perhaps only to the extent that the formal education required that I be open-minded to new ideas and new ways of solving problems.
What do you like to read in your free time?
Not my own writing, for sure... Besides reading the kinds of books I mentioned earlier, I often go online to peruse articles in major newspapers and magazines about sports, music, films and news of the day.
Bob Horton has been in the news business for more than fifty years. In 1966 he received the Top Reporting Performance Award from the Associated Press Managing Editors organization, and in 1968 he and an AP cohort were nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for general coverage of the Pentagon during the Vietnam War. Today he is a radio news anchor with shows in Lubbock and Victoria, Texas. He lives in Lubbock.
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