Featured: If I’m Not There, Did It Really Happen?
July 14, 2023
The memoir is fascinating, funny, heartbreaking, heartwarming—every emotion and condition of the human heart lives for infinity within the words.
Review: “Pirtle’s writing reads like short stories of literary fiction. They’re not quite like anything you’ve read before.”
I never count the miles on the roads I’ve traveled, mostly with photographer J Gerald Crawford. I only count the people we met along the way. They all have a story to tell, and my life has simply been one story piled on top of another.
Their memories became my memories. I crossed paths with the down and national celebrities, from country music stars to death row inmates, from the assassination of a President to the Mother of the alleged assassin, from hit men and lawyers to farmers who struck it rich when the oil fields broke the Great Depression that gripped East Texas.
You will find a mesmerizing collection of stories about the famous, the notorious, the unknown.
Ride a bus with Dolly Parton.
Cross a river in a rowboat with Jesus.
Ride horseback with a Supreme Court Justice to the top of Texas.
The stories will make you laugh and cry and feel good about mankind.
Some are hard edged. Some prick and warm the heart. I believe what happens is never as important as the people who make it happen, and these people are not easy to forget.
They are a behind-the-scenes look at humanity in all its splendor and all its flaws.
But most of all, the stories speak of a people’s strength, determination, and passion that endures throughout the good times and the bad.
Life’s greatest stories, so often, go untold. But still, I look for them. I’ve spent far too many years chasing life and other ghosts, and I’ve always wondered: If I’m not there, did it really happen?
The Readers Speak:
When I was reading this memoir, I was right there, meeting people and reliving events that span the author’s lifetime. Pirtle’s descriptions of places can capture a town’s history in a few sentences. This one’s about Shafter, Texas. “Miners . . . were looking for paying jobs. Most found their graves. Graves didn’t cost a lot in Shafter. Hard work killed some of them. A few died in the heat. The rattlers got their share. Disappointment tracked down the rest. Nobody ever came to stay for very long in Shafter, Texas.” – Sandy Signing In
Caleb Pirtle has the talent for making a stranger comfortable enough to divulge his deepest secrets. Story after story in this “memoir of sorts” opens up a little bit of Americana to the reader, who can’t help to be impressed with the little things that make people “tick.” – Patricia J. LaVigne
The author’s clear, concise, easy writing voice drew me into his story. Around every bend, there was a story waiting to be told. Mr. Pirtle’s ability to win the trust of those within the stories is a true gift. – Jan Romes
I do think Caleb could get an interesting yarn out of a fence post if he couldn’t find anyone to speak to. He has such a wonderful sense of humor and authentic interest in those he met. If you enjoy stories about real people that will make you laugh out loud, shed a tear and perhaps even ponder the meaning of life, you will love this book. – Nikki B.
The rich and famous, poor and outcast, proud mountain musicians, and the desert where the only distant sign of life is a dead armadillo by the side of the road—all real and immortalized. The memoir is fascinating, funny, heartbreaking, heartwarming—every emotion and condition of the human heart lives for infinity within the words. – Stephanie Parker McKean
You’ll meet a 7-year-old pianist from Kilgore, Texas – lad name of Van Cliburn – you’ll get to laugh with Jerry Clower and write songs with Tom T. Hall and Jimmy Driftwood – you get to meet characters from Carolina’s Outer Banks to the Cajun swamps of Louisiana – you will even meet Lee Harvey Oswald’s mother. Some great stories by a master story teller. – John M. Nickols