Static: Wednesday, May 11, 2005
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
At Least They Didn’t Get the Check

At Least They Didn’t Get the Check
His first reaction was “There’s gotta be some mistake.” Typical, say the friends of local writer, former Star-Telegram columnist, and storyteller extraordinaire Mike Nichols. His first novel, Balaam Gimble’s Gumption, won this year’s Texas Institute of Letters John Bloom Humor Award — a.k.a. the Joe Bob Briggs prize for the “goldang funniest Texas book” written in 2004. The award, sweetened by a $1,000 check, is not given out lightly. It was last handed to Kinky Friedman in 2002, but no Texan was deemed worthy of the dark, uniquely Texas humor of the Bloom/Briggs variety until Nichols’ first novel, about small-town greed and intrigue, hit the stands. His gently satiric tale “captured the unaware funniness of Texans,” one judge said at the awards banquet in Austin on April 30, in a phrase that proved a bit too prophetic.
When Nichols returned from the headiness of Austin to his Handley bungalow — notable for its front-yard rock sculpture topped with an antique typewriter — the old manual machine had gone missing along with a box full of Balaams from the garage. The police have put out a “missing books” alert, he said. “Maybe they’ll slap ol’ Balaam on the sides of milk cartons.”

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