Joe Nick Patoski receives TCU Texas Book Award
by Glenn Dromgoole

The extensive and highly-acclaimed 576-page biography of Willie Nelson by Texas author Joe Nick Patoski of Wimberly has won the TCU Texas Book Award, one of the most prestigious literary honors in the state.

The TCU Texas Book Award is presented every two years by the Friends of the TCU Library and TCU Press and includes a $5,000 prize. Previous winners have been Stephen Harrigan for “Gates of the Alamo,” Scott Zesch for “The Captured,” Jeff Guinn for “Our Land Before We Die,” and Timothy Egan for “The Worst Hard Time.”

This year’s winner, Patoski, was a unanimous choice. His book, “Willie Nelson: An Epic Life,” was published last year by Little, Brown and Co. ($27.99 hardcover). It will be coming out in a nearly 600-page paperback edition ($16.99) next month.

In a review of the book by Publishers Weekly, it was hailed as an “impressive, entertaining chronicle of Willie Nelson’s life.” The author “looks beyond country music trappings to find the funny, talented, determined man who became an unlikely icon,” the review noted.

Kirkus pointed out that Nelson “doesn’t get any free passes” in the book. “Patoski dwells in depth on his capriciousness, quick temper, hard-partying lifestyle, infidelities and four tempestuous marriages, as well as his headline-making ’90s tax case.”

Entertainment Weekly praised the “scores of funny firsthand stories in (Patoski’s) account of how a ramshackle hillbilly career sparked an unlikely convergence of redneck, hippie, and Hollywood culture.”

Rolling Stone regarded it as “a three-dimensional portrait of the singer.”

High praise, indeed, for Patoski. Of course, he had good material to work with, but the author went above and beyond to put together the definitive book on one of Texas’ most interesting, influential and controversial characters.

Patoski wrote for Texas Monthly for 18 years and is the author of biographies on Texas music personalities Stevie Ray Vaughan and Selena as well as coffee table books on “Texas Mountains,” “Texas Coast,” and “Big Bend National Park.”

Glenn Dromgoole writes about Texas books and authors. Contact him at

One Response to “Joe Nick Patoski receives TCU Texas Book Award”

  1. sweetheart says:

    Congratulations Joe Nick!
    You deserve it!!

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