The Trim UNTOLD STORY of BONNIE and CLYD JEFF GUINN THE LIVES BEHIND THE LEG ID REVIEW Bang for the Buck BY JESSE SUBLETT Bonnie Parker’s and Clyde Barrow’s violent 1932-34 crime spree through the Midwest tracked like a hurricane spi ral stuck in replay, with the pair punctuating robberies and bloody escapes with faithful returns to visit family in Texas, disregarding their notoriety and a network of watchful lawmen. On May 23, 1934, the cycle came to its gruesome end on a logging road outside of Gibsland, La. Six heavily armed officers, tipped off by one of the duo’s colleagues, opened fire, shooting the lovers and their stolen Ford all to hell. Bonnie, a fledgling poet with a flair for drama, had predicted their legend in a poem titled “The Story of Bonnie and Some day they’ll go down together; And they’ll bury them side by side, To few it’ll be grief To the law a relief But its death for Bonnie and Clyde. Three-quarters of a century later, Bonnie and Clyde remain the most infamous, doomed couple of the Depression era, and perhaps in American history, in no small part because of the 1967 film Bonnie & Clyde, whose charismatic titular outlaws, played with high-caliber sex appeal by Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, struck a chord with American youth in an age of revolt. Forty-two years later, the film has taken on the glam veneer of legend, so two new books marking the 75th anniversary of Bonnie and Clyde’s deaths offer a welcome corrective. Even the stars seem aligned for a revisit. As in the Great Depression, millions today find themselves, like our anti-heroes, jobless, foreclosed and wildly unsympathetic to bankers. In Bonnie and Clyde: The Lives Behind the Legend, Schneider uses a risky; novelistic approach to put readers behind Bonnie and Clyde: The Lives Behind the Legend By Paul Schneider Henry Holt 384 pages, $24 the wheel of the getaway car. The present-tense narrative slips into period vernacular. Writing about Barrow, Paul Schneider often shifts to second person: “You have the gun Bonnie smuggled into the jail cell, but it’s not doing you much good while you’re hiding in the crawl space under a house on some back street of Middletown, Ohio, hoping the police will give up on looking for you.” Making liberal use of letters, memoirs, interviews and other source material, the book is studded with dramatic recreations in jails, hideouts and motel rooms, wherein Schneider stages conversations and peppers the narrative with quotations like interview bites in a Ken Burns documentary. What works on television can seem pointless on the page. Relying on an interview with Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde By Jeff Guinn Simon er Schuster 468 pages, $27 Marie Barrow on her brother’s affair with Bonnie, Schneider finally cuts to the crux with, “He loved her and she loved him.” The point hardly needs hammering. Schneider excels, however, in setting scenes. His portrait of West Dallas, where the Barrows moved in the early 1920s, is one of heartbreaking squalor, a tent city like something imported from the Third World. Clyde’s mother, Cumie Barrow, a fire-and-brimstone Christian, loved her boys unconditionally. His father, Henry, was a failed farmer who found his groove running a gas station in West Dallas. As teenagers, Clyde and older brother Buck found their own grooves in petty crime, stealing bikes and chickens, moving on to car theft and armed robbery. SEPTEMBER 4, 2009 TEXASOBSERVER.ORG 27
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