If I were a better person, I’d have completely finished Go Down Together: The True Untold Story of Bonnie & Clyde in time for Tuesday’s Round Rock Reads! kickoff. As it is, events this weekend meandered out of control in true Bonnie & Clyde fashion.
First, the process of un-holidaying my house went into overtime. I was corralling ornaments into bins and lugging them up the attic stairs long past the allotted time. Next, dismantling the outdoor decorations involved significant follow-up. Things would go slightly awry, giving rise to other maintenance needs: nail holes, paint to be retouched around the door, etc. etc. etc. Then, I yielded to the impulse of reading the one book on hand not required for book discussions. It is neither as well-written or as edifying as Go Down Together, but the sheer defiance of starting it when I didn’t have the time was irresistible.
I’d be the perfect Bonnie & Clyde accomplice, demonstrating the very behavioral patterns that landed their photos in post offices across the nation:
- Neglecting to factor in annoying practical considerations
- Repeatedly operating in reactive rather than proactive mode
- Acting on a whim rather than investing in the long-term good
At least, I don’t share Clyde’s fondness for highway maps (I need a GPS), nor do I fancy myself a poet, as Bonnie did. Those Rand McNally maps that we take for granted today didn’t exist before the 1920s; Clyde depended on them and tended to leave them in just about every car he stole. And I was fascinated to learn that he and Bonnie took pride in a spiffy appearance, so much so that they would drop off their outfits for dry cleaning and then station their activity close by until they were able to reclaim their refreshed apparel. Those are just the sort of details that Jeff Guinn infuses frequently and to great effect in his book.
Depression-era America figures as a personality in Go Down Together, as well. Social mores, economic policies, law enforcement staffing, quirks of fate, new products, and media attention all contributed to the outcome of Bonnie and Clyde’s story. As for the outlaws’ own considerable part in it, Guinn somehow manages to place a myriad of details and evidence at our disposal while still leaving readers the privilege of assigning blame and determining cause.
Drop in for the Round Rock Reads! kickoff event on January 4; following the documentary film, local author Mike Cox will regale us with more intriguing facts about Bonnie & Clyde’s era. And don’t worry if your Round Rock map has mysteriously gone missing; you can call the library for directions!