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TCU Press

Website: http://www.prs.tcu.edu/

TCU Press has traditionally published the history and literature of Texas and the American West. As the press has grown steadily in stature and in its ability to bring credit to its parent university over the last twenty years, it has been praised for publishing regional fiction, which often doesn’t find a market in New York, and for discovering and preserving local history.


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TCU Press

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Memoirs of an Obscure Professor Cover

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Memoirs of an Obscure Professor

Paul F. Boller

During the heyday of McCarthyism, the Chicago Tribune, offended by something he had written, contemptuously dismissed Paul Boller as "an obscure professor" - he was then teaching at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Some forty-five years later, reflecting on the incident, Boller wrote an essay on what it was like to be an obscure professor at one of America's less publicized campuses in a conservative community during the late 1950s and early 1960s. That essay became the foundation for this collection of autobiographical selections reflecting the interests and pursuits of a man who gained national recognition, both inside the academic community and beyond, but still values his obscurity. Whether it is a study of the much-maligned Calvin Coolidge or an account of his Navy service as a translator of Japanese during World War II, Boller brings to his writing a fresh approach and a lively and wry wit.

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Moving Serafina

Bob Cherry

Late in life, Clayton Elliot faces long-deferred, hard choices. Circumstances force him to bury his recently deceased wife, Adelita, in the little West Texas border town of Solitario instead of next to their three-year old daughter on their hardpan ranch. To pay for Adelita’s cancer treatments, Clayton sold this marginal ranchland to water developers.

By reuniting Serafina with her mother in Solitario, Clayton hopes to assuage his guilt about her death twenty-five years earlier. However, whether Clayton moves Serafina immediately or ignores the contracted deadline, either act will trigger drilling into the aquifer for water. His lifelong friends are vehemently opposed to drilling.

When a young Mexican woman mysteriously enters his life, Clayton must delay his efforts to move Serafina and surreptitiously help this woman who has illegally crossed into Texas. This decision also raises the ire of Clayton’s friends.

Throughout the novel, Clayton struggles with both the internal and external borders of his life. And the eccentric characters of Solitario find they, too, must confront their own geographical, psychological, and racial boundaries.

North to Yesterday Cover

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North to Yesterday

Robert Flynn

Robert Flynn has built a richly humorous, poignantly tragic novel around a cattle drive that forces cowboys to herd cattle on foot, to lower themselves to milk a wild longhorn, to tend a baby as well as a herd. At the center of the tale is Lampassas, the storekeeper who has heard the tales of the trail so often he knows the route by heart. Risking all for one last grand adventure, he heads for Trail's End with a herd of straggly, bony longhorns and an odd company of hands: Jamie, his reluctant son; Preacher, a self-ordained revivalist; Gattis, a farm boy never meant to wear cowboy boots; June, a stable hand who finds confidence and courage from his six-shooter; and Pretty Shadow, a drifting cowboy seeking the love of his early youth. Add to this group Covina, a riotously bold but appealing girl with an illegitimate baby, and you have the wildest, most improbable trail driving crew ever. At once magnificent and absurd, Lampassas holds the long drive together in the face of stampedes, drouth, flood, and horse thieves.

"It's the first feller that does something that is the hero, and the last feller that does it that is the fool," Preacher tells Lampassas. But Lampassas and his crew are made great by the enormity of their folly, the strength of their dream.

Notes From Texas Cover

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Notes From Texas

On Writing in the Lone Star State

W. Jameson

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.”

Nothing to Lose Cover

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Nothing to Lose

Jim Sanderson

Roger Jackson is a grouch. He drinks too much with the wrong sorts of people. He dislikes where he lives—Beaumont, Texas, a small, humid southeast Texas town caught between a marsh and an impenetrable forest, between racial and social strife, between rival versions of Jesus. He dislikes his job—taking photos of cheating spouses. He dislikes his past. (He could have been a lawyer.) And now, he finds himself entangled in a crime. 
 
When the police find an aging ex-hippie dead from bullet wounds to the head and torso, they find Roger’s photos and want his help. Surrounded by a cast of colorful characters, Roger must do his job while maneuvering around the dangerous agendas of those around him. But the greatest obstacle is the recurring cocaine trail leading to Jewel McQueen, a small-time crook, who is guarded by his sociopathic brother, Sunshine McQueen, who hears voices from Jesus, Satan, and his mother. Jewell will stop at nothing—even murder—to keep his demented brother out of prison.
 
Roger must leave the enclosed suburbs with their exclusive, prim, cleaned-up Jesus and cheap cocaine and liquor habits and, with his new partners, venture “behind the pine curtain,” into the deep Piney Woods with its wild, unruly Pentecostal Jesus and meth-lab economy and mentality.

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The Orphans' Nine Commandments

William Roger Holman

When Roger Bechan was six, his mother packed his suitcase and took him to the Oklahoma Society for the Friendless. He never saw her again. No wonder he and his orphan friends omit the tenth commandment—to "honor your father and mother."

His long journey through three orphanages and several foster homes is recalled with surprising humor and insight. Eventually, the boy finds a home in a small Oklahoma oil town, obtains degrees from two universities, marries and raises three sons, and becomes the youngest director of the San Francisco Public Library and an award-winning book designer.

The book is an unsentimental look at Bechan’s life in the child welfare system of Depression-era Oklahoma.

Paul Ruffin Cover

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Paul Ruffin

New and Selected Poems

Paul Ruffin

Ruffin uses alliteration and subtle textured sounds throughout his poetry, making them likeably conversational while full of crafted sound patterns. Ruffin also employs whimsical narratives, coining the word “Necrofiligumbo” in “When the Mummy Became a Mommy.” But, Hill explains, the true power of this book comes from its storytelling. With the new material, readers will encounter compelling, often drop-dead funny storytelling.

Red Steagall Cover

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Red Steagall

New and Selected Poems

Red Steagall

The State of Texas has honored Texas Poets Laureate for seventy-three years, but much of their work has gone unpublished and unrecognized. In a significant step toward recognizing the achievements of the Texas Poets Laureate, TCU Press will publish a series of the work of the Poets Laureate, with a volume dedicated to each poet. The series begins with the 2005 and 2006 Texas Poets Laureate, Alan Birkelbach and Red Steagall, and will continue through the next five appointments. These beautiful volumes collect the finest work of each individual poet. While a single volume may stand alone as a valuable selection of a poet’s work, the series as a whole will draw their different voices together into a singular poetic expression of Texas. Red Steagall has made his career in bringing the cowboy way of life into the public eye through many different media, and his poetry has been an important part of this effort. Here, it speaks as poetry in its own right. His poems, however, never lack a musical, songlike quality; his lilting rhythms carry the reader through the journey that each poem represents. Steagall’s poems chart the changing of the land and the passing of generations, but they rest on the solid ground of a steady faith.

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Slow Moving Dreams

Tom Hardy

Tom Hardy’s new novel, Slow Moving Dreams, tells the story of Tom Carter, a city man who is forced by the death of a cousin to return to his rural roots in West Texas. Hardy takes his readers along two journeys in this novel: the first is the physical journey that Tom takes as he drives to the funeral in Alpine, and the second is an exploration of Tom’s life as a child growing up in the country that the adult Tom is now passing through.  But not all of those memories are happy ones, as Tom and his cousins soon find out. The funeral starts to unravel a dark secret that could change everything Tom thought he knew about his family.
Hardy breathes life into all of his characters with his witty dialogue and nostalgic memory sequences. Slow Moving Dreams is a story of homecoming and family bonds that, in this age of consumerism and technology, is a refreshing change of pace. For those familiar with the lifestyle of the modern cowboy, the life Tom Carter remembers is a reminder of the old days, when nature provided everything one could ever need. But all readers, new to the cowboy’s world or not, are in for a fun, heart-warming tale as they follow Tom’s exploration of his past and realizations about his future.

Steplings Cover

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Steplings

A Novel

CW Smith


Nineteen-year-old Jason is lost. The rush of graduation parties has subsided, the ubiquitous discussion of college departures dimmed to a dull roar. His former classmates have made elaborate plans, but the only date on Jason’s calendar is a court appearance next Monday. Jason, who dropped out of high school just two months shy of graduation, finds himself stuck in the well-worn grooves of his hometown. But when his over-achieving girlfriend Lisa departs for UT Austin to study medicine, Jason finds Mesquite a place he can hardly recognize.  

Jason’s family can offer him little direction.  After his mother Sue’s unexpected death a few years back, his father Burl, fifteen years sober, slipped into old drinking habits. Jason watched the once clockwork-perfect routine of his family life descend into chaos. When Burl marries Lily, a high-strung, high-powered attorney, she brings a daughter into the house: Emily, eleven years old and a self-described know-it-all whose very existence is enough to irritate Jason.

Three days before Jason must appear in court, he receives a “Dear John” letter from Lisa. Heartbroken and determined to convince Lisa of his worth, Jason decides to hitchhike to Lisa’s dorm in Austin—but Emily, desperate to return to her father, a UT professor, overhears Jason’s plans and demands to accompany him. When Burl and Lily return home to find their children missing, Lily puts out an Amber Alert for Emily, accusing Jason of abducting her daughter. The frantic search effort that ensues threatens to destroy the tentative household that Burl and Lily have just begun to establish.

Smith’s gift for creating three-dimensional characters, abundantly demonstrated in his previous TCU Press titles including Understanding Women and Purple Hearts, lends this coming-of-age tale an unexpected quality of honesty and sophisticated narrative rarely seen in contemporary young adult fiction. Mary Powell, author of the TCU Press books Auslander and Galveston Rose, describes Smith’s prose as “rich and sophisticated, yet accessible, and the dialogue is right on.”  Steplings doesn’t romanticize the misadventures of its protagonists. Though Jason and Emily grapple with universal teen issues—Emily searches for acceptance in her new middle school, while Jason balks when confronted with new adult responsibilities—their troubles feel like uncharted territory when expressed through pitch-perfect narrative voices. “Watching Jason self-destruct,” according to Powell, “is akin to watching someone in a horror film go down into the basement.”

The authentic quality of Smith’s prose extends to the Texas setting; readers will recognize their neighbors in the characters that populate Mesquite and Austin. Kate Lehrer observed that Smith also “draws subtle distinctions among social classes.” Smith invokes tension between Jason’s no-frills lifestyle and Lisa’s country-club upbringing, and paints a widening gulf between Burl’s small-town mannerisms and Lily’s cosmopolitan tastes.  

Powell called Steplings “a friendly, hopeful, humorous, and thoughtful book about growing up.” Growing up, however, doesn’t belong exclusively to the young, and Steplings is a story that can’t be shelved neatly in the young adult category. Both teen and adult readers will see themselves in this multifaceted narrative of self-discovery.


 

 

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