When your memoir begins, “I was not even born yet when my father first tried to kill me,” you had better be prepared to deliver the goods, and indeed, BILLY JOE SHAVER recounts enough tales of hell-raising, songwriting, tragedy, and near-brushes with stardom to fill several lifetimes in HONKY TONK HERO (University of Texas Press). Fame and fortune have eluded the Corsicana native, but he has been an iconic artist among musicians and fans since Waylon Jennings recorded an entire album of Shaver’s songs, in 1973. This is essential reading, though at 72-pages-slim (plus 112 pages of song lyrics), Honky Tonk Hero barely scratches the surface of this rough-hewn genius’s remarkable 65 years on earth.