Tuesday, June 23, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Seldom Disappointed: A Memoir by Tony Hillerman

Title: Seldom Disappointed: A Memoir
Author: Tony Hillerman
Publisher: HarperCollins
Year: 2001

I was hesitant to read this book since I love Tony Hillerman's Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee mysteries so much. I've found that sometimes it is better not to know too much about the author and to just enjoy the writing! This wasn't the case for me with Seldom Disappointed. The first two thirds of the book deal with the author's childhood, WWII service, and marriage to his wife Marie. The last one third of the book was more interesting to me as Hillerman describes his tenure in academia as a professor at University of New Mexico (some HILARIOUS stories there for those who are familiar with academia from the faculty side of things) and then moves on to talk about writing his various novels. In his memoir, Hillerman continues to display the fabulous descriptive abilities that he is known for in his mysteries.

The title of the book takes on added poignancy knowing that Hillerman is no longer with us. To know that he felt he had lived a good life and was "seldom disappointed" brings a smile to my face.

This book is an overall joy to read for fans of Hillerman.

Rating: 4 out of 5

See also an essay/review in the Internet Review of Books titled, Tony Hillerman: A Gentle Man.
(Hat tip to Rose City Reader for pointing this one out to me!)


  1. This is the second very favorable review I have read of this book. It sounds interesting. Biographies and memoirs of authors are not something I usually read, but I've found myself pulled towards them lately.

    You might like this essay/review on Hillerman and his memoirs, from the December issue of the Internet Review of Books.

  2. Rose City Reader: Great essay/review! Thanks for pointing me to it. I would have to agree that the editor did let him down on this one, but I was able to overlook it and enjoy the book anyway.

  3. My dad is a huge Tony Hillerman fan and I was thinking he might really like this one. I am glad it turned out well. I know what you mean about sometimes being hesitant to learn more about an author, especially one whose work you really appreciate it.