BREAKFAST MEN u A 714/0 EGGS Rol l f CoFFEE y9 l 1$//rH BACOC Viol-UV HAM GAGERMAN SiglaRCre 69 ,4 4EGO’ Roll ot COFFEE 394 m 814c0iv, SMOKE!, HAM at GERMAN sArmis-E 59 NUEVOS RANCHEROS \(DO Rolf CorCEE.–394 NPWi 7W 8ACON SHoKEOHAlvioNireAvysiquselGE /09e lij,CIICE:SE OMELETTE, Roll f t Coff EC Z5-s c wi ED HAM OR GORMAN sAtlsACE a CONTINENTAL BREAxFArr zniv/sw , COFFEE erurct -c-^ 594i PITCHER OF ?LER –1=D /.30 -13 UDC. t5 ER ; /. 50 1 0*e14//NTERIZED Co 01/ PIZ -2-V-6A /96/ Fallow fields Washington, D.C. When 1 first met Harry Ransom he was an English professor. We had brushed by each other before, but this was the first time 1 met him. He was bounding along in Washington, D.C. about 1953, 1 was about 23, and within minutes we were both in a kind of high transport, forgetting our colding coffee at the Hot Shoppe near Lafayette Park. I had been having doubts about the government and the East and I had been reading The Flowering of New England and wondering if I should go back home and see about that. I have a variety of aspects like everyone. Dr. Ransom saw exactly what this mood in me was and turned me on as if I were a woods and he the late-clearing morning light. I remember some excited exciting conversations in my life but this one moved me to change and go and that is a conversation. I could not finish my complaints before he would enrich them or my idea before he so foreseeingly confirmed it there could be no doubt the hope I wondered was confirmed to be apossibility within the attainments of men our cut and size. My idea and hope was simply that the flowering of culture is always local, that we have the people, the values and the places in Texas, and it was time that we had a flowering there. That was almost one fifth of a century ago, it was long ago. Look what has happened since then to Harry’s Place; look what has happened since then to the. United States, begifted as it has been, perversely and so, by the political culture we liberals fought and made, and did not master, in Texas. Remembering that distant conversation, let us cast around and talk candidly. OUR BEST writer in Texas, I believe, is John Graves. He is a gentle, granitic temperament. His book, Goodbye to a River, is, I think, the best book written by a Texan. \(I exclude from all of this Katherine Anne Porter, because she is a universal writer; she occurred in isolation in Texas, and although her subjects were sometimes Texan, she is the exception who proves the condition: which is, that Texas book a river that he loved, that was going to be dammed. He got into a boat and went down it to say goodbye to it. From local libraries and old records he peopled it as he went down it the last time with the people who had lived on it and crossed it and fished on it all before then. This is the only book I know by a Texan that is authentically in and worthy of the tradition of Thoreau. I remember hearing once at Scholz that he has written a novel he will not submit for publication. I have been privileged to see his latest book, which is “about the Texas water plan,” one Observations might narrowly and correctly say, but which is really about water and the land, the general subject, approached from here where we can examine and handle some of it. I should say no more about it, but this is a book worthy of its subject and of its author. Somehow, although not by much literally, John Graves is older than Elroy Bode and Larry McMurtry and Bill Brammer. Each of these has a special gift and none has borne it fully in to us. Elroy is a perfectionist, miniaturist of reality, painter of the moment in time and place. The work he gathered together, published as a book, was called Texas Sketchbook. Damn, that was poorly named \(as, by the way, he also knows and known to me published in the United States. I would rank it with Prishvin’s The Lake and the Woods. Though Elroy’s subjects are not uniformly those of the naturalist, as Prishvin’s more or less were, Elroy’s perception and the ways he exists on the land, by the rivers, and in the current culture are the ways of a wanderer, a naturalist, a literary man, somewhat also like Turgenev in The Hunting Sketches; but I know of nothing quite like the Texas Sketchbook. It puts me in mind \(as only Stein once said to I think it was Ernest Hemingway. They were walking along, briskly, it seems to me in my memory of it, on the streets of New York, and she said something like, “You Americans! You think passion has to do with sex. In Europe we understand that passion, true passion, passion fully worthy of life, is passion for the whole thing, for all of it, for everything.” \(If she didn’t say it just that way, well, that’s what I’d have said, responding in agreement to whatever she in scenes. Another of these books will soon be out. The special difficulty is that these , short scenes are not adequate to Elroy’s passion. Yet, he has not found yet the length and draw in his spirit to commit himself fully to shapes and subjects that will. If he does, this will be a flowering. I HAVE ALWAYS felt that Larry McMurtry’s best work was ahead of him. A refined sensibility, the good use of language, intelligence that sees and November 5, 1971 21
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