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994 FROZEN MARGARITA IRISH COFFEE 9 AM UNTIL MIDNIGHT HOT DOGS HAMBURGERS STEAKS CHICKEN RESTAURANT 511 RIVERWALK ACROSS FROM KANGAROO COURT SAN ANTONIO. TEXAS 225-4098 THANKS, T.O. . . . longtime source of information, determination, inspiration for this transplanted Austinite now drowning in North Dallas GOP-mania. This Yuppie female tall, attractive, early thirties, Jewish, graduate degrees, educational/business consultant retains social consciousness/conscience and wishes to hear from/meet unattached and like-minded male of similar Texas, supportive of T.O. concerns. Contact: Lynne, c/o Texas Observer, Box C, 600 W. 7th, Austin, Texas 78701. Observer Bequests Austin attorney Vivian Mahlab has agreed to consult with those interested in including the Observer in their estate planning. For further information, contact Vivian Mahlab, attorney-at-law, P.C., at 617 Blanco, Austin, Texas 78703, or call 512-477-1700. Congratulations on having the heart and conscience to strongly support Lloyd Doggett for U.S. Senator. The loss is Texas’ and the nation’s. Doggett Senate Staff and intellectually empty. The large majority of them are dead where they sit, and reading them is about as pleasant as eating sawdust. . . . The other day it occurred to me, appropos of nothing, that the millennium is only 18 years away. Horses routinely live 18 years, but books don’t. It is quite possible that no book written in Texas in the last two or three decades will still seem worth reading 18 years hence. The problem is not so much shallow talent as shallow commitment. Our best writers’ approach to art is tentative and intermittent: half-assed, to put it bluntly. Instead of an infinite capacity for taking pains they develop an infinite capacity for avoiding work, and employ their creativity mainly to convince themselves that they are working well when in fact they are hardly working at all. The majority of our most talented writers have not yet produced even one book with a real chance of lasting. Forget second acts, in Texas literature: so far we have only a bare handful of credible first acts. Meanwhile, as the cities boom and the state changes, a great period is being wasted. Fiction in particular thrives on transitions, on the destruction of one life style by another. Houston and Dallas have sucked in thousands of Rubempres, but where are the books about them? These cities are dripping experience, but instead of sopping up the drippings and converting them into literature our writers mainly seem to be devoting themselves to an ever more self-conscious countrification. There is no point in belaboring the obvious. Until Texas writers are willing to work harder, inform themselves more broadly, and stop looking only backward, we won’t have a literature of any interest. . . . Larry McMurtry October 23, 1981 On Writing from the Center . . . Easterners who dress up like Texans have much in common with drag queens, for both support the costumes of those they would become. Now it’s often and wrongly said that drag queens caricature women, but anyone who has thought about the assumptions underlying our culture .will realize that the drag queen has penetrated the core definitions of most women: romantic constructs, human beings dependent on trappings for any semblance of self-experience. The same can be said of Texans. My point is that most Texans, like most women, have accepted an identity imposed by the power elite. And now that the traditional Eastern-centered begun to shift, Texans find themselves caught between two nots: they’re neither colonials nor Easterners. Who are they? The void at the center hurts. And because it’s always easier to pile on the trappings than to walk open-eyed into anomie, the retreat to an old, false, Eastern-imposed, narrowly colonial identity has become more vigorous than ever. Instead of defining themselves in terms of what they could be, Texans panic, map out the boundaries, and define themselves in terms of what they aren’t. Like those Totaled Women who, terrified of the mirror, paint and curl in an attempt to claim themselves, Texans celebrate beer, chili, country music, guns, armadillos, tough dudes, loose gals, crusty eccentrics who torch their pink Electras, misogynous drunks who hold forth in Old Testament cadences and Texas’ writers, who by all rights should be Texas’ thinkers, too often join in the clamoring. He who sells himself to romanticism will be forever rattling his chains. Because at the heart of romanticism is the insidious division of “us” and “them.” “Us” is the power elite. “Them” is everyone else. Texans, like women, have been “them” for too long, but reversing the pronouns won’t bring anyone closer to anything but another version of present stereotypes. The idea is to stop defining human beings and human experiences in polar and arbitrary terms “feminine” as opposed to “masculine,” “Texan” as opposed to “Yankee,” “us” as opposed to “them.” Life, after all, is lived on a sliding scale. And what has the relentless passion for categorizing it ever gotten us any of us but ironbound confusion? Chuck romanticism and stereotype goes. Without stereotype, a literature might come. It’s coming for women. Essays. Poetry. Short fiction. Our novels will take longer because novels are about lives, and women are just learning to be the subjects of our own instead of the objects of someone else’s. Texana is quaint, curious, interesting in the way a thing is interesting. But it isn’t literature, because literature grows from a sense of possibility. . . . Kathryn Marshall April 9, 1982 Waiting for a Texas Writer . . . Yes, Texas is now urban, not rural. Yes, good material is abundant in Dallas and Houston. Yes, it is going 66 DECEMBER 14, 1984