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BO O K R E VIE W S 4 2 7 Dickie, as Darlene is universally known, holds in her gender-bending nick­ name the key to her character— even, perhaps, to the whole book. Welcome to Utah, land of ambiguity! A place where national security sometimes means livestock and people poisoned by weapons designed to protect us. Where Mormon social codes are more complicated, and sometimes less repressive, than they might appear to the uninitiated. And where a grown-up woman, a smart and successful reporter in Salt Lake City, can’t completely resist when the smell of sagebrush and saddle leather, and the warmth of an old flame, draw her back to settle her family’s unfinished business on the land. Jane Qilmore Rushing: A West Texas Writer and Her Work. By Lou Halsell Rodenberger. Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 2006. 175 pages, $29.95. Reviewed by Max Despain United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs Several critics describe J. Frank Dobie and his peers as classic Texas writers. That grouping subscribes to the concept of a “Texas Mystique” or myth, that David G. McComb expresses in Texas: A Modern History (1989), according to which male Texans were tough, heroic characters while minorities and women were subordinate to the white male. Lou Halsell Rodenberger argues against that mys­ tique when she categorizes Texas woman and author jane Gilmore Rushing as an important literary figure. Rodenberger introduces Rushing as an unabashed regionalist who focuses on the Rolling Plains of Texas with such intensity that she produces a social history comparable to William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County. Like Faulkner, Rushing exceeds mere regionalism with her universal examinations of bigotry, racial prejudice, and anti-intellectualism. Rodenberger’s lifelong devotion to studying Texas women writers validates her belief that Jane Gilmore Rushing is a significant figure in Texas literature. Rodenberger bases her admiration for Rushing on the author’s deft treatment of such difficult themes as the struggle of living in a society that judges by appear­ ances and the anti-heroism implicit in her favoring of women and farmers over cowboys and ranchers for her main characters. Rushing gives a voice to marginalized Texans in a counterbalance to the chauvinistic literary tradition earned out by authors such as J. Frank Dobie. Loosely based around Rushing’s literature, this critique of the author’s life and writing adheres to chronology. Opening with a chapter that briefly summa­ rizes Rushing’s life and a second qualifying her as a regionalist without apology, Rodenberger then turns to a detailed examination of the novels. She extracts critical nuggets that develop arguments for Rushing’s treatment of major West Texas social issues. In chapter 6, Rodenberger touches on the other genres Rushing explored such as articles, plays, novellas, and memoir. The entirety of chapter 7 examines Rushing’s unclaimed feminism acquired by mostly writing 4 2 8 W e s t e r n A m e r ic a n l it e r a t u r e W i n t e r 2 0 0 9 from women’s viewpoints. Chapter 8 covers the years Rushing stopped writing, culminating in her untimely death. Rodenberger closes by promoting Rushing as an old-fashioned storyteller who captured “the every day lives of Texans who settled the Rolling Plains of Texas with a perceptive understanding of what motivated and governed those lives” (165). Rushing comes across as a non-traditional female voice who realistically presents many underappreciated characters that populate West Texas. Although readers may wish for more biographical details about Rushing, Rodenberger’s persuasive nanative makes compelling further study of this West Texas author’s fiction. The universal themes of appearance for appearance’s sake and major social issues entwined with a voyeur’s perspective into a private, rural way of life insist on closer examination. Rodenberger succeeds in estab­ lishing Rushing as an important figure in Texas regional writing whose strong, vibrant women and farmers hold their own among the iconographic ranchers and cowboys who have long populated the myth of a Texas mystique. Clint Eastwood: Actor and Director. Edited by Leonard Engel. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2007. 269 pages...


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pp. 427-428
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