The Bookshelf, Young Texas Reader, Blog Notes, & Texana Youtube Channel

The Texas Bookshelf is for single, specific books' reviews and author interviews . The Texas Parlor ranges more broadly than my other websites. The Young Texas Reader focuses on the youngest through teenagers. Texas Blog Notes surveys blogs of historical and literary interest. I've started a Will's Texana Youtube collecting channel where 1,000 videos are collected in 100 playlists . Find Will in Houston or at willstexana {at} yahoodotcom

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Observer Observes McMurtry's Unnatural Observation on Place

The Texas Observer's role in disturbing the burial place of Texas literature is paid a light revivival within its "A Novelist in Full" by Azita Osamloo.

While pawing through the remains of a separate dilemma, Osamloo states,
"The dilemma calls to mind the 1981 Observer essay in which Larry McMurtry took his fellow Texas writers to task for “paying too much attention to nature, not enough to human nature.” "

Yes, that would partially account for McMurtry's differing sensibilities, his separation from nature, and his documentation of Texans' collective separation.

Now that our separation from nature is acknowledged by climate change, one wonders when our novelists will document our going back home again, back to the plains, the ponds, the forests, the highlands, and the marshlands.

Somewhere I seem to remember that I read an account of Edward Abbey, an, ahem, activitst environmentalist and writer, and that account included a portion of his childhood maybe in or around San Antonio in the custody of his mother and her some sort of emotionally intense religious committment. Could that intensive religiosity have transferred into his own firebrand label? If that were plausible, could we lay some claim to him as a Texas writer - that is, if his time here and some of his influences are significantly derived from here?

Such a connection, if we successful transit to it, may offer a basis for other surreal or otherwise odd literary passersby.

It's unfashionable to claim Conan the Barbarian as a Texan, despite the author's clear Texan citizenship and the outlandish bragadaccio of Conan being suggestive of the often larger-than-life Texan profile (even in something so simple as that Lions movie with the two brothers on their old Texas farm).

And there's Anne Rice and her previous vampirial narratives. She met and matured and married with a young Texan who went on to be a significant surrealist poet. She and he were close kins in their literature. Is vampirism so distant from surreal poetry? Her husband's Texas roots sucked up something to push him onward when "feeling out of sight for the ends of being and ideal grace" (terribly misquoting Browning). But could Anne have sunk her teeth properly without her Texas influence?

While Conan and vampires are beyond the realm of real nature, they are still bound to it by their very primitive and visceral existences - hence still deferring to nature.

Even Cormac McCarthy's work begins and lives deep within natural impulses and terrains - The Road being one of the ultimate places, merging the internal novel with the external.

Great Texas Novel - Part C

In the volume "Updating the Literary West" in article on John Graves (p. 573) Craig Clifford states "Every critical discussion of Graves writing, this one not excluded, finally turns to the question, will he ever put forward the Great Texas Novel (pace Larry McMurtry)."

What is Texas Literature?

If we're gonna talk Great Texas Novel, then "What is Texas Literature?" The blog "A Practical Policy" which normally focuses on Liberation Lit and the Middle East, explored the topic in October of 2006. It begins:

"The question is sometimes asked, What is Texas literature? Is there one? And the answer is sometimes that Texas literature is more of a national literature than anything else – perhaps given that Texas has three of the 9 or 10 largest US cities and its vast countryside and great ethnic and class diversity and other factors. Among other Texas surprises, I suppose, there’s a book coming out on an “Asian underground railroad” that once ran through El Paso, Texas."

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Great Texas Novel - Part B

After the entry from the Campaign for the American Reader, I wondered about the phrase and, yes, searched Google, some of the results being: Tejano
"Tehano is a terrific novel, an epic tale of the Western frontier that is superior to Lonesome Dove: better written, more smoothly plotted, more historically accurate. It may well be the Great Texas Novel."—Dallas Morning News Tejano
Tehano by Allen Wier (Southern Methodist University Press, 736 pages, hardcover, $27.50, 0-87074-506-9): Tehano has been cited as rivaling War and Peace in scale and Lonesome Dove in gripping reality. With the Texas Comanche territory as his arena and Antebellum days through Reconstruction as his timeframe, Wier tracks the destiny of a motley army of Americans—from displaced Northerners to desperate Okies. This is indeed the Great Texas Novel. Texicans
AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMANFREDERICKSBURG, TX NEWSBy Amanda Maria Morrison" Just when you thought the great Texas novel has already been written and any more attempts would be just running over the same armadillo again and again, comes the Texicans, a tremendous historical novel set in the aftermath of the Texas' independence and its burgeoning statehood. ...The author's ability to reveal the human heartache that plagued so many settlers in their cabins and on their ranches drives the novel's convincing plotlines........Vida's work should be placed on the same shelf with Lonesome Dove, Texas, and Pale Horse, Pale Rider. ",M1
Farther off from Heaven
In Bert Almon's "William Humphrey: Destoryer of Myths" regarding William Humphrey's "Farther," Almon invokes James Ward Lee's pamphlet on Humphrey as suggesting the volume is a great Texas novel.

A Sunday, October 30, 2005, opinion at the Dallas Morning News
"Will Clarke: Beyond the Texas Myth: When Larry McMurtry bashed the state's literati, he must've been having one bad day" explores greatness.
A DMN sidebar asked for email suggests under the question: "Your Point: If a novelist tried to write the Great Texas Novel this year, what would it be about?

Quiet Bubble (Southern writing) explores, in July 2005, in a broader context, Texas great(?) novelists
"Quick thinking: name four major Texas writers. By “Texas writer,” I guess I mean writers who grew up in Texas and/or writers who glean from the state for their themes, plots, geography, and moral frameworks.
After two days of back-and-forth emails with Ernesto and some web browsing, I came up with Katherine Anne Porter and Larry McMurtry. Donald Barthelme grew up in Houston, but he doesn’t count–when I think of him, I think of the hippest, strangest Greenwich Village insider you’d ever want to have a drink with, but Texas would never enter the conversation. I’ve heard the name Elmer Kelton batted around in a few newspapers, but I think he’s too obscure even for Bookforum.
So, two writers. That’s it. Why is that?"

Then Quiet Bubble goes further
wherein he invokes Orson Welles' "Touch of Evil" and Poppy Brite's "Prime" among others.
Others' added "Comments" go further.

Great Texas Novel

Campaign for the American Reader
The official blog of the Campaign for the American Reader, an independent initiative to encourage more readers to read more books. The CAR kicked off a campaign of inquiry regarding the Great Novel of each state. Texas commentary included:

Fort Worth's Bryan Curtis weighs in with "The Gay Place"

Don Graham weighs in with "Lonesome Dove" and "Blood Meridian"