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Accentuate The Negative

NEARLY A DECADE AFTER HER DEATH, Patricia Highsmith is finally coming into her own in America. W. W. Norton is reissuing her entire body of work, and the dimensions of her oeuvre continue to impress....

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Fallen Heroes

LIKE THE ALAMO, the Texas Rangers embody the idea of Texas exceptionalism, the notion that the Lone Star State (there it is again) is different from the rest of the U.S. Almost everybody recognizes the...

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Mary, Quite Contrary

AMERICANS WANT O.J., Scott Peterson, and Michael Jackson to confess, but they’re not going to. What we’re left with is people we wouldn’t otherwise have heard of, confessing their guts out. They do it...

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You’ve Got Mailer

AT THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA in the early seventies, one of my colleagues was the genial Robert Lucid, Norman Mailer’s longtime friend and authorized biographer. From Professor Lucid I heard a lot...

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Dunces of Confederacy

From the window of my office at the University of Texas at Austin, I can see the statue of Albert Sidney Johnston, a professional soldier who served in three armies: the Republic of Texas, the U.S.,...

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Please Go Away

Dear Cormac, A couple of years ago the Texas Book Festival “Bookended” you. (They will Bookend anybody, so it’s nothing to feel cocky about.) Since you famously do not appear in person to receive...

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The Bucket List

Life is too short not to live it in Texas. But recently we asked ourselves an uncomfortable question: If we had only one year left on earth, what would we do in the Lone Star State? A spirited...

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Short Book, Sorry

Larry McMurtry, and I know this for a fact because he told me so, is an avid reader of memoirs and autobiographies, especially of chatty Brits such as James Lees-Milne, whose twelve volumes of diaries...

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The Book of Elmer

Texas Christian University Press, long the hub of Elmer Kelton hagiography, has just released its newest paterikon, Elmer Kelton: Essays and Memories ($19.95), a collection of pieces written in honor...

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Gunfire and Brimstone

When I told my mom, back in 1970, that I was going to write a dissertation on Frank Norris, she was excited; she thought I had in mind the feisty Fort Worth preacher J. Frank Norris, a celebrity in my...

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Father Knows West

Larry McMurtry has been writing novels for five decades now, usually at a rapid clip. Even into his late sixties he continued to bang out an average of five pages a day, bringing forth, among numerous...

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Nation State

SPRINGTIME IN TEXAS IS DIFFERENT than it is in other places; here we have to rave about the goddam bluebonnets and remember the Alamo and a whole bunch of other stuff: Texas Independence Day, Goliad,...

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Hearon in Bloom

In the early sixties Shelby Hearon, a Kentucky transplant, started writing novels at a rapid rate and hasn’t slowed down since. In fact, her fifteenth, Ella in Bloom (Knopf), is due out this month....

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Canon Fever

IN THE OLD DAYS, for better or worse, everybody agreed upon the canon of Texas writing. It was largely a man’s world, headed up by Dobie, Bedichek, and Webb. Katherine Anne Porter was worthy of the...

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Catcher in the Raw

LARRY MCMURTRY’S FIRST NOVEL, Horseman, Pass By, turned forty this year. Almost continuously in print in paperback editions since the sixties and helped along by Hud, the popular and critically...

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Picture Perfect

Plus: A few words from the late Ben Johnson, and an exclusive excerpt from Larry McMurtry’s new novel Duane’s Depressed. In the fall of 1970 the magic of Hollywood descended on Archer City, Texas,...

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Expatriate Act

OF ALL CONTEMPORARY TEXAS WRITERS, no one shines brighter in the pantheon of Lone Star lit than John Graves. Why this should be so is less a matter of critical exegesis than one of conviction, of...

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Bohemian Rhapsody

As every schoolchild used to know, Texas has 254 counties, and seemingly every one of them has been the subject of a volume of professional or amateur history. Refugio County has so much history it...

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All the Pretty Corpses

I’LL NEVER FORGET THE MOMENT I received my advance review copy of Cormac McCarthy’s long-awaited novel No Country for Old Men (Knopf). It was all shiny and new, and the countdown clock on...

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Pen Pals

CERTAIN CITIES COME TO mind when one thinks of public statuary: Paris, Rome, Barcelona. Austin, the capital of laid-backness, home of Hippie Hollow and high-tech brio, is not one of them, but the city...

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Writers Bloc

People who make up lists are asking for trouble, but here goes. May being Texas Writers Month, it seemed a good time to put together a literary map celebrating the state’s leading scribblers. With that...

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Katherine the Great

MAY IS TEXAS WRITERS MONTH, an occasion traditionally accompanied by a poster celebrating a Texas writer. But when the event’s organizers chose William Sydney Porter (O. Henry) for this year’s honors,...

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Friedrichsburg Revisited

Thanks to the sturdy scholarship and translation skills of James C. Kearney, we have a new addition to the Texas literary map, a kind of redistricting as it were, whereby the modern-day tourist town of...

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Still Searching

Once upon a time everybody in Texas knew the story of Cynthia Ann Parker. They learned it along with the stories of the Alamo and Spindletop and the lyrics to “Get Along Little Dogies.” Not so much...

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The Class of ’63

Although John F. Kennedy died half a century ago this month, the legend of his assassination lives on—at least in the publishing industry, which has never stopped taking us back again and again and...

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