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Jack Ruby and the Origins of the Avant-Garde in Dallas

Jack Ruby and the Origins of the Avant-Garde in Dallas

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By Robert Trammell

Introduction by Ben Fountain

Afterword by David Searcy

Spectacular, genre-defying stories, including the reimagining of Lee Harvey Oswald’s murder as an attempt to create generation-defining performance art.

Publication Date: December 7, 2021

Paperback: 9781646050499
eBook: 9781646050505


What really (might have) happened when Jack Ruby, nightclub owner, brass knuckle-slinger, and inveterate fan of Corbusier, decided to kill the killer of JFK? In this first-ever trade publication of Bob Trammell’s work, Jack Ruby mythos loops between fact, fiction, and spectacle to satirize Dallas’ place on the world stage. Jack Ruby & The Origins of the Avant-Garde in Texas caricaturizes everyone from Bob Thornton to Joseph Beuys; fodder for JFK conspiracy theorists, innuendo-readers, ingenious speculators, and pursuers of The Truth About Dallas At Large.

With an introduction by Ben Fountain and afterword by David Searcy, this volume also includes Trammell’s “Quiet Man” story cycle from over the course of his long, countercultural writing career, lamenting a generation that lost much by embarking on a search for themselves in a city—and world—unwilling to support its brightest artists.


“The novella, told in short chapters full of rumors, factoids, and stark black-and-white photos, is the crown jewel, and it's made convincing by its audacity ("Jack Ruby was like Dallas's Andy Warhol before Andy Warhol was Andy Warhol," Trammell writes). Here, Jack is a major supporter of local culture and something of a reprobate, with an equal interest in art and exotic dancers. Trammell's riffs on Ruby and the less glamorous corners of Dallas coalesce into a winning portrait.” Publishers Weekly

"A brisk and bracing 80-page novella, Trammell mixes snippets of conversation, commentaries on Ruby’s growing resolution to “make Dallas an International City” at all costs, and images and acts of violence that are circulating around the city and country in some undefined relationship to the catastrophe about to befall Dallas and Ruby himself... For anyone who misses that peculiar epistemological space of a good dive bar...these stories are deeply pleasurable and deeply nostalgic.” —Michael Schapira, Full Stop

“Every style of story lives inside this collection. I’d say it’s equal parts Donald Barthelme, Terry Allen and W.G. Sebald.” —Ian McCord, Bookseller, Avid Bookshop

"Robert Trammell is an essential American writer, and Jack Ruby & the Origins of the Avant-Garde in Dallas is his essential book. Trammell puts words to an unspeakable event, and brings us as close as we're ever likely to get to understanding an unknowable American tragedy." — Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk and Beautiful Country Burn Again

Biographical Note

Robert Trammell, author of numerous books of poetry and stories, was a legendary underground writer in Dallas, and founded the literary nonprofit WordSpace