Essays on Texas
Publication Year: 2013
The collection begins with a twist on book introductions that sets the tone for the essays to come—a self-interview conducted poolside at an eccentric Houston motel favored by regional rock bands. Over piña coladas the author works on his tan and discusses timeless Texas themes: the transition of the state from a rural to an urban world, the sense of a vanishing era, and the way that artists in literature and film represent a state both infectiously grand and too big for its britches.
In “Fildelphia Story,” Graham remembers his Ivy League professorial stint in a city the small-town Texan who rented him a moving van looked up under “F.” In “Doing England” the Lone Star Yankee courts Oxford University and returns with a veddy British education. In “The Ground Sense Necessary” a native son journeys inward to explore the dry ceremonies of frontier Protestantism and to recount movingly his father's funeral in Collin County.
With his wide-ranging knowledge of classic regional works, Graham unerringly traces the style and substance of local literary giants and offers a sometimes irreverent but always entertaining look at the Texas triumvirate of Dobie, Webb and Bedichek. Other essays look at such Texas greats as Katherine Anne Porter, George Sessions Perry, William Humphrey and John Graves.
In a section he calls “Polemics,” Graham includes his best known essays, “Palefaces vs. Redskins,” a sardonic survey of the Texas literary landscape, and “Anything for Larry,” a tour de force that has already become a minor classic. The essay weighs the puny financial achievements of Graham against those of mega-author Larry McMurtry and never fails to bring down the house when Graham gives a public reading.
A recognized authority on celluloid Texas, Graham provides a rich sampling of his knowledge of Texas movies in pieces that blanket the territory from moo-cow cattle-drive epics to soggy Alamo sagas to urban cowboy melodramas.
In the larger-than-life state that is Texas, nobody sizes up the Lone-Star mythos, its interpreters, boosters and detractors better than Don Graham.
Published by: TCU Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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With Thanks ....
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...owe so many debts stretching back nearly twenty years in the mak ing of the essays that comprise this book that it would be impossi ble to thank or even recall everybody who offered a suggestion, a hint, a lead, a bit of encouragement. But before that, to my parents, ble debt: they each supported with love and without condition my life ...
Greed, Creed, and Me: The Author Interviews Himself by Way of an Introduction
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...ished Giant Country and are resting, catching some rays, mind if I A I'm temporarily light. I couldn't afford where I really wanted offer in the way of cities. I know a lot of people wouldn't agree, but once you get inside the freeways, it's great. It has what I look for in a city: good restaurants, good shopping, good bars. A cos ...
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...job at the University of Pennsylvania. It was a big step for me, of Pennsylvania, nor of its actual location. I knew it was somewhere on or near the East Coast. Many of my friends in Texas never did get believed that I taught at Penn State for five years, and occasionally, years later, one would ask me what I thought of Joe Paterno--the ...
The Ground Sense Necessary
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It seems highly probable that the most satisfactory funeral seroice for the average family is one in which the cost has necessitated some degree of sac rifice. This permits the suroivors to atone for any real or fancied neglect of highest councils of the funeral industry. On the local front, in my from the leading mortician. He declared the author a communist, ...
Texas in 1940: The WPA Guide
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...forty-five miles per hour; Lyndon Johnson was serving his first international airplane racing titles, was only a few years away from the cantilevered bra and his plunge into terminal weirdness; the future famous author Larry McMurtry was four years old; J. Frank Dobie had recently converted from ranch conservatism to New Deal ...
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..."When he called, I just said to the japs, I said, 'Go on, now,. go on,. know, are impossible. They poke under the mattresses, they look In the tiny living room Elvis was playing on the record player, and there was a boy, Jerry's friend, lounging languidly on the sofa. Betsy gave me a look that said, "Does this guy remind you of L.A. or what?" ...
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Steinbeck, the author who enshrined the word Okie in the American lexicon, is still a name that raises hackles in Oklahoma. Then there is the Oklahoma story according to Rogers and Hammerstein. This is the one where the wind comes sweeping down the plain and the corn is as high as an elephant's eye. Oklahomans love this story. And ...
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...here's the Rio Grande, darling," said Jamie as they crossed over could hardly make it all the way to the ocean, does it, it looks like it might just curl up and die. It don't look a bit like it does in those mountains outside Pilar where it comes crashing out of that nacular with the occasional poetic phrase, striving for the sublime?" ...
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Cotton and Classicism: George Sessions Perry’s Farm Novel
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...t was not until long after my family had forsaken cotton fields and the labor thereof that I first read George Sessions Perry's novel of sharecropping life, Hold Autumn in Your Hand. It struck father and mother and myself in that time of war so long ago, in the t 940s. My father raised cotton and corn on a piece of black-...
Katherine the Great
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Indeed, at the splashy first Texas Book Festival, held in November 1996, a panel of semi-distinguished commentators sang the praises of the familiar founding-fathers trinity of Texas letters, J. Frank proffered for Porter. Back in 1939, Porter's Pale Horse, Pale Rider, author, lost out in the Texas Institute of Letter's annual competi ...
William Humphrey: Last of the Southern Belle-Lettrists
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...phrey's death in t 997 at age seventy-three marks the end of a rich tradition in Texas writing, one whose like we shall not see again. The reasons are both historical and cultural. Humphrey, born in t 924 in Clarksville, Red River County, in the far northeastern venues for hunting. Humphrey's first novel, following an appren ...
Pen Pals: Dobie, Bedichek, and Webb
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Although many of their books remain in print, to a large number of Texas' whopping t 8.4 million population, the names of J. Frank rent generation of students at the University of Texas, few have the faintest conception of these once-revered figures, and finding one cheeked warbler at a tractor pull. In a recent section of my "Life and ...
John Graves and The Regionalist Enterprise
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...talked after they read a little Dobie and a little John Graves. Of course Yankees didn't know diddly about Texas. They thought "hard scrabble" was a challenging board game until they read John Graves and discovered it was just a piece of sorry land. Graves made it seem like a virtue, though, and Yankees really liked that, the idea of land ...
“Urban, by Cod”: Billy Lee Brammer’s Texas
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...overdose. According to this version of the legend, he belongs in Heggen (Mister Roberts) and Ross Lockridge (Raintree County), nov lives came to ruin from, among other causes, the pressures atten dant upon their initial successes. Neither Heggen nor Lockridge anxiety occasioned by the lofty praise of his first novel. It gar ...
Take My Sequel from the Wall: The Lonesome Dove Cycle
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...convert the dross of fiction into precious metals. Four of his novels had been turned into films, three of them excellent, the only excep tion being the execrable Lovin' Molly. But it was something new for a McMurtry novel to create such a sensation in the literary mar the trick? The book appeared in June 1985 poised strategically to ...
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Palefaces and Redskins: A Literary Skirmish
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...refinement, and technique; on the other, raw life, realism, and Anne Portervs.J. Frank Dobie. Such polarities are of course complex when you get down to actual cases. In a work like Noon Wine Porter wrote about the Redskin side of Texas experience with consummate power; and Dobie, who devoted a lifetime to studying the Redskin ...
Land without Myth; or, Texas and the Mystique of Nostalgia
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...ironic timing-it came right in the middle of plunging oil prices. So instead of celebrating the rich panoramas of the past, some of the rich spent much of 1986 hiding out on their ranches and attending Still, there were a few lame attempts at celebration, self-evalua tion, and the sort of backward glances that are supposed to accom ...
Anything for Larry
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...what I do when the administration asks me to do something: I do it for free and hope for a crumb later. It's called Being a Professor. I read with studied casualness, a front tooth that I'd forgotten had where, covertly, I managed to snare it. A faint odor of decay filled my mouth, like the opening of an ancient, long-sealed tomb, but ...
Paris, as in Texas
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...got to see it. It's a great film. It's about these abysses, right? Stanton is in this weird sex shop in Houston where the deal is you can see them but they can't see you. Stanton sits in a room talk Kinski, says I think I'll take my sweater off, and 01' Harry Dean says no, no, don't do that. Tears slide down his weathered cheeks. ...
Puerto Vallarta Squeezed
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...another kind of "shooter": a professional sniper-assassin. Clayton Price is a guy from Brooklyn, though it's hard to imagine a less be a mountain man, as we learn in this marvelous sentence: "He'd read about them [mountain men] in a library book, and after that woman whose head "exploded like a cantaloupe." Later, liking the ...
What the World Wants to Know
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Bastante de las maricones, said Perez. Let us have a philosophical con-What the world wants to know is whether your chili has cojones. Cojones, testicles, I believe the surgeons call them. In your country. You mean to tell me that to win this contest we have to put co jones Our Lord Jesus Christ, Lacy, it don't take your entire mind to do ...
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Moo-vie Cows: The Trail to Hollywood
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...ten years in all. As early as 1898 the essential elements to make activities. The titles indicate the subjects: Branding Cattle, Calf Branding, Cattle Leaving the Corral, Cattle Fording Stream, and Lassoing Steer. All that manding leader, some cowpokes, including a garrulous cook, a hot head, and a green kid, and maybe toss in a fragile beauty who has a ...
The Big show: Autry’s Artful Oater
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...grew up seeing big-budget A westerns at the Ritz Theater, on the square in McKinney, Texas, but on Saturday afternoons I also saw a lot of double-feature B westerns and serials, cheaper, cruder fare welling up of nostalgia about all those long forgotten oaters that fonned, even for an artless young viewer like myself, a more or less ...
Remembering the Alamo: The Story of the Texas Republic in Popular Culture
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Republic. I like the sound of the word. It means people can live free, talk free. Go or come, buy or sell, be drunk or sober, however they choose. Some words can give you a feeling that makes your heart warm. Republic is one urged the importance of scrutinizing popular materials in order ments; tho' these may perhaps be called the best Characteristics ...
Nowhere Else But Southfork: What Texas Looks Like in the Movies
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...uring a trip to the Caribbean in the early nineties, we spent an transfixed by the dubious doings of J.R., Bobby, Sue Ellen, the French. As were we at the table with the locals. That is, the four men and Betsy were. Having little French, I was drinking and listening. wanted to know if the TV show bore any relation to reality. Betsy ...
“Time-Traveling Through Texas”: A Half-Centuy of Lone Star Movies on Video
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Bondi, Bunny Sunshine, Jay Gilpin, Percy Kilbride, Charles Kemper, ton farm (actually filmed in southern California). Some excellent period photography coupled with some little-house-on-the-prairie sentiments, Renoir's work is best appreciated in the context of an era when few movies about farm life rose above the Ma-and-Pa Kettle ...
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Grateful acknowledgment is made to the following for permission to reprint portions of material which appeared, in an earlier form, on their pages under "Introduction," WPA Guide to Texas. Austin: Texas Monthly Press, "J. Frank Dobie: A Reappraisal," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, vol. 92 Ouly 1988) 1-15. Reprinted with permission from the Texas State ...
Page Count: 290
Publication Year: 2013