foreword by Ernie Dumas
Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, 2024
Cloth: 978-1-945624-27-8 | Paper: 978-1-945624-28-5
Library of Congress Classification PN4725.T75 2023
Dewey Decimal Classification 818.5409


“Although of a relatively scarce breed,” the Arkansas Times observed in the obituary of the itinerant writer it had once employed, “Mike Trimble was Arkansas’s and perhaps the country’s greatest self-deprecating journalist.” Readers will find in this fifty-year inventory of Trimble’s wit and wisdom all the vindication they might seek for that quaint judgment—the rare humble author. Whether he was chronicling, in the 1980s, rising political worthies like the far-into-the-future governors Asa Hutchinson and Mike Beebe, or, more often, the ordinary and feckless people that he encountered every day, befriended, and spent most of his career writing about, Trimble usually found a way, subtly or artlessly, to bring up his own failings, such as identifying the wrong person as the dead woman in an obituary he had written in his earliest days for his first employer, the Texarkana Gazette. Like the yokels in the vaudeville duos Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, Rowan and Martin, and Fey and Poehler, Trimble’s confessed bumblings were purposeful and studied instruments of his humor.

Arkansas produced more than its quota of weirdos, fabulists, con men, oleaginous politicians, charlatans, creeps, visionaries, and fantastical creatures—from Albert Pike, Arvin the Wino, Dr. Brinkley the Great Depression’s goat-gland sex therapist, Editor Weston, and the salty riverboat queen Ray Dorthy all the way to Say McIntosh and Red the Irish Setter. Mike Trimble, the South’s best and funniest storyteller, put them all down on paper for some of the best reading since Catch-22. Trimble turned humor into art and history into vaudeville.