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Notes From Texas

On Writing in the Lone Star State

W. Jameson

Publication Year: 2013

From the Guadalupe Mountains of the Chihuahuan Desert to the Hill Country to the Red River, the vast geographic landscape of Texas has afforded the cultural depth and diversity to inspire its writers. The richness of Texas folklore, history, and traditions has left an unmistakable mark on the art of the region. Both native and transplant Texas writers alike have been keenly shaped by the distinctive aroma of fresh corn tortillas, tales of Mescalero Apaches, and Tejano and ranchera music.

Jameson has compiled an assorted collection of fourteen essays by some of the most prominent Texas writers through which he hopes to explore the following questions: “How did they accomplish their goals? Why did they choose the writing life? What influence did the history, lore, and culture of Texas play in their creative process?” While readily citing the “decidedly Texas flavor” in his own fiction, Jameson seeks to uncover the inspirations in other writers from both the expansive and rugged Texas terrain as well as the varied people therein.

The fourteen writers who comprise Notes from Texas range from the captivating and often humorous essayist Larry L. King to the beloved historical novelist Elmer Kelton. Other contributors include James Ward Lee, known for his expertise in Texas cuisine and culture, and poet and songwriter Red Steagall. This collection bestows each with a “chance to express what they wished to share about their art and their life as a Texas writer.”

Published by: TCU Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. 1-12

Growing up in West Texas yielded one adventure after another. I still remember standing on the north bank of the Rio Grande and staring southward into Mexico. I wondered what lay beyond my vision, what sort of people and landscapes could be found. ...

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1. Notes from an Outsider

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pp. 13-26

I have long envied native Texans. Elmer Kelton, Joyce Roach, Bob Flynn, Fran Vick, and others speak a language I can only imitate. Joyce Roach once said something to me about the perspective I, as an outsider, bring to Texas fiction. I am astonished to think that after forty years in the state, ...

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2. Something to Say

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pp. 27-44

I confess to no one but God. Writing this essay is to-the-barn-and-back too much like a confessional where others can see my soul and decide my penance. Others seem to know more about my writing than I. A friend pointed out that all of my novels have a preacher in them. I wasn’t aware of that. ...

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3. Nine Ball, Corner Pocket

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pp. 45-62

The day I learned to write my name, in the first grade, I wrote it all over the windowsill and wall at the back of the one-room schoolhouse where eight grades, one per row, studied grammar, history, spelling, geography, and rudimentary social manners. I don’t know why I scribbled my name a hundred times or more in that place, at that time. ...

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4. Why I Write

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pp. 63-80

I come from a family of readers; my parents read to each other and, as the youngest of five, I also saw my older brothers and sisters reading individually or as a group. Until I was ten or so, I thought most people read and that they did so for pleasure or amusement. ...

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5. The Country of the Mind

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pp. 81-90

I live on a hilltip in the Texas Hill Country, and in all directions I can see for several miles. From the front porch I look east into the valley of the Sabinal River and the small town where the post office is, the general store, the feed store, and the steeples of the Methodist and Baptist churches lifting above the live oaks. ...

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6. I Love a Good Western

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pp. 91-106

I was not supposed to become a writer. I was supposed to be a cowboy. However, neither nature nor training gave me the skills necessary to earn an honest living in the saddle, so by default I became my next best choice, a writer. I decided if I could not do it, I could at least write about it. ...

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7. Famous Arthur

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pp. 107-122

When I was eight years old in 1935, I told all in the vicinity of Putnam, Texas, who would listen that I intended to become a rich Famous Arthur, believing “author” to be spelled and pronounced as the given name. ...

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8. Two States of Mind

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pp. 123-140

I am not sure the Matthew Arnold quotation really applies, but it’s how I feel when I set out to talk about my writing. It seems that I am indeed wandering between two worlds—one as a teacher and one as a producer of humor, fiction, folklore, criticism, and literary journalism. ...

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9. Barbarians, Cowboys, and Private Eyes: How I Became a Texas Writer

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pp. 141-158

The impact of Texas on my writing starts with the fact that I was born and raised here and have never lived anywhere else, nor wanted to live anywhere else. And if anyone was born knowing that he wanted to be a writer, it was me. ...

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10. From Wit to Wisdom: The Irony of the Artistic Journey

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pp. 159-182

Unremarkably, I was born in a small town in Texas. It was fairly typical of hundreds of other small towns in Texas during the “boom years” following World War II, typical of tens of thousands of small towns across America in those days of “I Like Ike” and idyllic fictions of family and community. ...

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11. Saved to the Uttermost: The Life and Times of a Naïve West Texas Writer

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pp. 183-202

I'm from Jacksboro, Texas, and have never gotten over it—and I’m not trying. I wear that corny phrase around my neck like an albatross, and, like the ancient mariner, am compelled to hold any and all with a glittering eye while explaining my rural, small-town West Texas background. ...

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12. Drawing Inspiration

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pp. 203-216

I grew up in an idyllic setting for a boy who was and is crazy about the history of the cowboys and Indians. The little town of Sanford, Texas, lies about one-half mile south of the Canadian River in the Panhandle of Texas. I spent every hour that I could on that river. ...

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13. Universal Truths in Your Own Back Yard

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pp. 217-232

Some years ago I read a quote from famed Texas novelist Larry McMurtry in which he boldly described himself as a Minor Regional Novelist, even posing in a T-shirt with the title proudly stenciled across its front. This, of course, was in his younger days, long before he’d won a Pulitzer Prize, ...

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14. Confessions of a Texas Publisher/Writer

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pp. 233-245

I know this will come as a shock to those of you who have heard me speak with my East Texas twang, but I am terribly provincial. It is embarrassing to be so provincial, but there it is. Furthermore, I come by it naturally, even genetically, perhaps, from deep in my family DNA. ...


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pp. 246-254

E-ISBN-13: 9780875654683
E-ISBN-10: 0875654681
Print-ISBN-13: 9780875653587

Page Count: 250
Illustrations: 15 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2013