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fair question one writer represented in this anthology believes. Another suggests an answer. Texas spaces, she observes, accommodate the wildness [I take it she means the freedom] of spirit that women associated with Texas letters have often demonstrated by ignoring regional barriers to their consideration of humankind’s concerns.” What? It gets worse; reading Rodenberger’s descriptions of these stories, the heart sinks: “In ‘Dust,’ Patricia Griffith depicts a small East Texas town surrounded by cotton farms in the 1950’s where fear and suspicion are aroused by a transient crop duster and ignite mindless violence, often latent in rural Texas. The newest member of a West Texas farm family, a teenage bride, acquires maturity in Jane Gilmore Rushing’s ‘Against the Moon,’ as she learns about family traditions and relationships as the family gathers for the impending death of the family matriarch. . . . Reva’s plight in Melba Christopher’s ‘Prisoner in Disguise’ is that of a sensitive woman doomed. As a tenant farmer’s wife, childbearing and unrelenting hard work are her lot. . . . A rooming house owner delineates sharply the before and after contrast in anoil boom town gone bust as she also reveals that she has understood her deceased roomer, a failed oil operator, better than his kin ever did in ‘Mr. Carmichael’s Room,’ by Winifred Sanford.” As these examples demonstrate, threename lady writers do not in fact have to possess three names. \(Of the 31 writers, In fact, they don’t have to be ladies. Any man who regularly writes what could be called “yarns” is a three-name lady writer in his soul. I don’t have the heart to quote any more; it was bad enough having to read these stories. Most fall into one category or another of rustic schlock: either tedious nostalgie de la prairie or dreadful sharecropper Southern gothic. Rodenberger apparently wants to rebut Larry McMurtry’s indictment of Texas literature: “Designation of urban over rural as now-proper setting for Texas fiction and denigration of the rural as fictional place is irrelevant to intelligent judgment of what writing Texans are doing today.” She ends up, however, unwittingly supporting his case. Somewhere in this book, there’s a pretty good 15-story anthology trying to get out. Maybe in its next printing, Her Work could be marketed in three-name and two-name editions. 111 Humor and Insight from Leon Hale By John Edward Weems A SMILE FROM KATIE HATTAN & OTHER NATURAL WONDERS By Leon Hale Drawings by Barbara Whitehead Bryan: Shearer Publishing Co., 1982 $13.95 Waco LEON HALE’S description of Katie Hattan and her smile is one of 150 or so short pieces chosen for in clusion here from a 15-year spread of Hale’s popular column that runs in the Houston Post. When Hale talked with Katie Hattan she was a 100-year-old black woman living near Wharton. He came upon her one afternoon at three o’clock when she was “out in the back, swinging a big hammer and fixing a hole in the hog pen.” He marveled at the sight. She was small and narrow and probably did not Book reviews by Texan author John Edward Weems have appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, and Christian Science Monitor, as well as in the Observer and other Texas publications. weigh 90 pounds “not even holding that hammer.” Since Hale wanted to talk, Katie Hattan’s son Zennie Ray, aged 76 offered to finish the patching job. But she refused, worked the hammer a while longer, then led Hale into her house. There she talked about her life. Born in 1877, she had escaped legal slavery, but she had performed slavelike labor for most of her hundred years, simply to exist. “I chopped cotton, and picked cotton, and worked and plowed like a boy,” she told Hale. “I still work, now. Every day I do things. I hammer. I nail. I do what a carpenter does. I milk my cow every day, and fix my milk. . . ” Only once in her life had she idled away any time in a hospital after a gall bladder attack. Hale studied her: ” . . Such a strength showed in that tiny face. A knowing, a confidence in the eyes. Here was a person accustomed to being in control. . . ” At one point she smiled “one of the most special smiles” Hale had ever seen. But, not surprisingly, Katie Hattan was short on optimism. “The world’s gettin’ worse,” she said. “Somethin’ bad’s gonna happen if people don’t change. . . . You go to church now and you don’t find many people, unless there’s a funeral. The sport has taken over. You want to find a crowd, go to the ball game. . . But soon she found another reason to smile, and Hale realized why he had thought it “most special.” “I saw hope and encouragement in it. Not for Katie Hattan, but for you and me. I find comfort in the fact that a person can live in this world for a century, and work so hard, and plow, and fix holes in pig pens, and even see bad things ahead. And yet produce a smile like that.” It would be interesting to hear Ronald Reagan counsel Katie Hattan to “stay the course.” But that political remark is not Hale’s. He and a new regional publisher, Bill Shearer of Bryan, have produced a book that will appeal to many readers, regardless of political affiliation. has excelled in traveling the backwoods of Texas, talking with men and women who are infinitely removed from the Texas wealth and power depicted on television and in bestselling books these days, and writing about them and often about himself, too with a gentle humor and considerable insight. Random examples: “You hear people talk a lot about watching the weather, but it means THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21