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Nothing Happened and Then It Did

A Chronicle in Fact and Fiction

Jake Silverstein (Author)


Fact and fiction vie to tell the story of a young journalist bedeviled by the devil and seeking greater truth.

The timing couldn’t be better—as scandals erupt over journalists and memoirists who’ve cooked their books—for a work that explores our difficulty in separating fact and fiction, while explicitly demonstrating how they differ and what they share.

In prose so fine and wry it makes the back of your neck prickle, Jake Silverstein narrates a journey he undertook through the American Southwest and Mexico, looking to become a journalist. His picaresque travels are filled with beguiling and hilarious characters: nineteenth-century author Ambrose Bierce; an unknown group of famous poets; a twenty-first-century treasure hunter in the Gulf of Mexico; an ex-Nazi mechanic shepherding an old Mexican road race; a stenographer who records every passing moment; and various incarnations of the trickster devil.

As bold, ambitious, and funny as it is unconventional, Nothing Happened and Then It Did is a deep and lasting pleasure.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • April 2010
  • ISBN 978-0-393-07646-2
  • 5.9 × 8.6 in / 231 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

Other Formats

  1. Book CoverNothing Happened and Then It Did: A Chronicle in Fact and Fiction


Endorsements & Reviews

“When Silverstein is front and center, making wry jokes, musing about the road and what journalism might mean, Nothing Happened and Then It Did has a thoughtful momentum.” — Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times

“The road novel—or the road half-novel—has rarely been funnier or more appealing than it is in Jake Silverstein’s Nothing Happened and Then It Did…[The reader] is swept into this account of post-college purposelessness…his quest to become a roving eyeball is so entertaining that it doesn’t matter what’s happening, or what’s not.” — Harper's

“[O]ne of the weirdest books I have ever read…[Silverstein’s] adventures, real or fictional, are at their worst highly amusing and at their best marvels of droll virtuosity…[A] greatly entertaining and extremely funny book.” — Tom Bissell, The New Republic

“Silverstein's adventures and prose are first-rate. From searching for the grave of Ambrose Bierce in West Texas (fact), to a treasure hunt in the Louisiana bayou (fiction), the memoir traces five years in the author's life when he moved across the American Southwest and Mexico hoping to find a story worth selling that would launch his journalism career.” — The Huffington Post

“This book (Is it a novel? Or a memoir? Both? Something else?) is hilarious, poetic, lovely, and disturbing. It's filled with ghosts, bad poets with great hearts, treasure hunts, death-wish race-car drivers, and Mexican kids who weep when denied the chance to eat at McDonald's. It's a eulogy for dead American towns, dead American ideas, and dead American jobs. It crosses every aesthetic border as it crosses geographic, racial, and economic borders. You'll devour it.” — Sherman Alexie

“You'll find pleasures on every page of this warm and funny book. I've never read anything like it. Nothing Happened and Then It Did is a masterful literary debut.” — Annie Dillard

Nothing Happened and Then It Did cleverly eludes categorization. Part new journalism, part old-fashioned bildungsroman, by turns whimsical and edifying, very funny yet deeply profound, it is a creation both strange and rare. Jake Silverstein is the book's author and hapless hero, a character composite not unlike Cervantes and his fictional sidekick Sancho Panza. The great accomplishment is that the reader, in the end, does not care what is fact, what is fiction, because she has happily arrived at that much more elusive grail: truth.” — Antonya Nelson