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innys ‘ COPYING SERVICE Good books in every field JENKINS PUBLISHING CO. The Pemberton Press John H. Jenkins, Publisher Box 2085 6 Austin 78768 WATSON & COMPANY Copying Binding Prinring .Color Copying Graphics Word Processing Austin Lubbock Son Marcos Postmaster: If undeliverable, send Form 3579 to The Texas Observer, 600 W. 7th, Austin, Texas 78701 high school teacher who teaches anything about writing admonishes students to write about those things about which they know. Does this change? Are we to throw Sandburg, Emerson, Thoreau, Graves, Humphrey, Bode and even early McMurtry out the window because they don’t dwell on urban themes? Pardon my rural metaphor, but wouldn’t we also be throwing the baby out with the bathwater? As to the need for real criticism of Texas letters, how does McMurtry know? Does he read our critics? Has he read the critical assessment of his own work by Elroy Bode which was ultimately printed in Home And Other Moments? Perhaps it might give him a different perspective. God, I am so tired of the cry, “We don’t have a literature . . . no voice speaks for Texas!” Perhaps no one voice does speak, but many voices are raised to tell us where we have been and just maybe the “one or two Texas cities” who can tell us where we are and where we are going. If indeed that hope does reach fruition, it will be because of these quiet “minimalists” Mr. McMurtry so disdains. Ramona Peebles, Box 542, Center Point, Texas 78010. No Here, Here Something similar to what Gertrude Stein said of Oakland could be said of Larry McMurtry’s latest essay on Texas writing. There is little here, here. The judgments fall thick and constant, but without much substance to back them up. Katherine Anne Porter is given frontier justice, a quick trial and execution for evasive gentility, without benefit of a specific bill of indictments. Genteel indeed. I can recall one story, “Magic,” an errant prostitute into line. The beating is severe and it includes an assault upon the woman’s “most secret place” and here is how the effect is described: “When she got up again there was blood everywhere she had sat.” That makes my genteel skin crawl. McMurtry’s heroes, it seems, have always been outlaws, but aside from John Irsfeld’s novel, Little Kingdoms, a strong narrative, I agree, the other titles he exempts from general castigation are as minor, as local, as unreadable as anything in his long list of failures. I could go on countering McMurtry’s negative judgments with more favorable ones of my own, but what would be the point? Better to mention some of the missing in action, writers like William A. Owens, Andrew Jolly, Edwin Lanham, Rolando Hinojosa, and Carolyn Osborn whose names do not appear here. Writing in/about Texas needs a comprehensive, dispassionate, and informed study. Until that time, in this case the critical equivalent of a long afternoon at Scholz Garten, seems to be the order of the day. Don Graham, English Dept., UTAustin. Guess Who Such a wealth the October 23 issue is: Jim Wright’s plan to save Social Security and a McMurtry blast all under one cover. Thank you for a lively evening which the issue set off at my house. I’m sure a number of readers will take exception to Mr. McMurtry’s reflections, and I’d like to reply to his Dobie commentary with the following quotation: “Although I think one finds . . . intimations of meaning and value for this region’s writers in Dobie that have generally been missed, it is down the main trail of his life and work whereon we can follow his main value to us young ones that he has been fiercely honest elder, making of the earlier people’s tales and travail here a library of written-down life that is therefore saved for us. He has been personal proof of the possibility of a writer working here where things of this kind seemed strange and beyond us.” Sound familiar? It should. Ronnie Dugger wrote those words in 1964 in his essay “Down a Bytrail,” \(TO, and they remain a better assessment of Dobie’s contribution to Southwestern literature than the “most popular magazine” editor whom Mr. McMurtry quotes in regard to the body of J. Frank Dobie’s work and bed-time tales for ten-year-olds. Indeed, it remains to be seen that the great Texas novel will refute the folk tales of our Southwestern culture in order to express the stress and strain of a newly urban society. Trudi Watson, 3658 Columbia Dr., Napa, CA 94558. Larry McMurtry read the above letters while in Texas for Thanksgiving. He decided they weren’t interesting enough to warrant comment. “The Miracle of the KILLER BEES” by Robert Heard. Honey Hill Publishing Co., 1022 Bonham Terrace, Austin, Texas 78704, $7.95 plus $1.03 tax and shipping. OPEN TUES -SAT 10-6, SUNDAYS 10.-4 24 DECEMBER 18, 1981