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It’s a daunting task, but I’ll take a shot at a summary. The current owners of the Dallas football team are high-tech tycoons also involved in real-estate speculation in the Texas Hill Country and drugand gun-running in Central America; they control a paramilitary apparatus run by ex-Government types \(the models here seem to be Richard Central American counterrevolutionaries, and periodically engage in the mass murder of illegal aliens \(motives shadowy, but mostly mer team owner \(Conrad Hunter of North went bankrupt before he sold them the team, not informing them they were also buying enormous “deferred-money” contracts on certain players, including former teammates of Elliot’s. \(The new owners are ruthless, but apparently they either can’t new owners are framing these players on drug charges in order to break the contracts, thereby freeing up money to continue their nefarious plots \(during bad times for Texas heavy bucks, and if they don’t deliver soon … Elliot is on their trail because he’s been hired to do a magazine piece \(for a thinly disguised periodical that is clearly Texas on the reunion but that too is part of the sinister plot of the bad guys: because they have been afraid that Elliot might ex pose them; because they are still mad at him for things he did in the last book; because their lawyer is also his ex-wife’s lawyer and David Stein; because they hate him on general principles; but mostly because Gent needs a narrative and moral hub around which to send spinning all this nefarious busy-ness. I will let you guess whether or not Elliot and his valiant band of former players \(a few loyal souls who have not yet been corrupted two-minute game plan to thwart the Forces of Evil. Much depends on whether Elliot himself, in a chance meeting after 20 years that takes all of 15 minutes, can persuade his former coach, now-right-wing Governor the Governor’s closest, long-term political associates and financial supporters are really a bunch of fascist thugs in three-piece suits. \(You and I might buy it but The outcome is no more preposterous than almost everything else that happens in the book and no less and indeed, the spectacle of a former football coach saving the country from a neo-fascist coup during half-time at the Giants-Cowboy game \(after be worth the price of plowing through 300 pages to get there. Unfortunately, it’s not, not really, and it’s a damn shame. Peter Gent is a very serious man, and his sense that the fate of Texas and the country is largely in the hands of people who are incompetent, self-seeking, and malicious, to put it mildly, is an honorable conviction and one that I certainly cannot gainsay. But a novel requires much more than deeply held convictions, or the instinctive feeling that an evil conspiracy is on the loose and is directly or indirectly behind every depressing headline in the morning paper. Usually the writers pushing this childlike delusion are knee-jerk rightists of the Tom Clancy variety; to his credit, Gent’s enemies are mostly in the right places but they are all too cardboard and obvious to be convincing, except as caricatures. Not surprisingly, the best writing in this book is virtually a supplement to North Dallas Forty: Elliot’s bittersweet memories of his first pro camp and season, his elation at athletic excellence in action, his growing realization of the contradiction between his sport as art and as industry, and his near-despair as the corruption of the game, even on the field, begins to distort his own youthful spirit. These passages are few and far between, but Gent clearly has more to say, on the spoiled art he once performed so gracefully and in that tale is the larger story of a culture consuming itself to death. There is old scar tissue all over this manuscript, and it is Peter Gent’s own proud flesh. 0 Limited Growth BY DAVE OLIPHANT NEW GROWTH: Contemporary Short Stories by Texas Writers Edited by Lyman Grant San Antonio: Corona Publishing Co., 1989 262 pages, $10.95 IT HAS ONLY been three years since two comprehensive anthologies of Texas short stories appeared from the Univer sity of Texas Press and Still Point Press: Don Graham’s South by Southwest and Marshall Terry’s Prize Stories, respectively. Nevertheless, it is welcome to have a progress report on the state of Texas short fiction, especially because New Growth, a collection edited by Lyman Grant for Corona Press, is restricted to stories written in the past five years that had not been published previously in book form. Also, since Grant’s editorial stance for the most recent anthology of “contemporary short stories by Texas writers” Dave Oliphant is a poet living in Austin. 18 APRIL 20, 1990 the earlier collections, this too provides it with another justification for publication so soon after the Graham and Terry books. Unfortunately, however, too much of the writing in New Growth proves a great disappointment. Even for those writers who were already collected by Graham and Terry Peter LaSalle, Beverly Lowry, Naomi Shihab Nye, Carolyn Osborn, Roland Sodowsky, Pat Ellis Taylor, and Thomas Zigal their stories in the Grant anthology do not represent any advance in their work from South by Southwest or Prize Stories. This comparison was inevitable, given that the three collections were all published within three years, but also because Grant himself recalls the Graham and Terry anthologies in his introduction, asserting that his own collection “creates a new category by attempting to capture only the present moment in a diverse state.” Although I have no quarrel with Lyman Grant’s idea for New Growth, and even applaud his efforts, I still find many of the stories, particularly among the newcomers like Clay Reynolds, Reginald Gibbons, Guida Jackson, Catherine Agrella, Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey, and Rick Bass, seriously flawed, misconceived, or simply sub-standard fare. As for the writers who elicited praise when they appeared in the Graham and Terry collections, their stories in New Growth may well illustrate Grant’s thesis by incorporating more contemporary concerns and depictions, rather than the stock-in-trade cowboy or “Texas” fixtures the editor would eschew. Yet treatments of the homeless in Zigal’s “Recent Developments” and of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and loss of children in Lowry’s “What Love Can Do” have not made satisfying fiction out of these “new” materials. In the case of both Zigal and Lowry, their present offerings simply do not measure up to their stories on similar themes, “Orphans of the West” and “So Far from the Road, So Long Until Morning,” two powerful pieces collected in the two earlier anthologies. On the other hand, some of the new voices included in Grant’s collection in particular those of Ewing Campbell, James Hannah, Jim Sanderson, Rogelia R. Gomez, and Shelby Hearon contribute stories that