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millennium, but I think it’s fair to say that with this book I’m trying to build a bridge to the twenty-first century. What kind of bridge? A bridge of understanding. A way to connect our recent past, this century, with the next. And so on like that. So how would you define this book’s objectives? I think it provides a picture of a transitional period in Texas history, from a rural way of life to an urban one. Which is where we are now, obviously. Since 1940, Texas has flip-flopped its population from country to city. We’re now eighty-two percent urban. Many of the essays touch therefore upon a vanishing Texas. There is also in this book an evaluation of what our mythology tells us about our past and what our actual experience tells us. I’m interested in the gap between mythology and experience. It’s where I live, in Irony Gap. And there are other objectives, other themes, but those are for readers to find for themselves. Q: Is it fair to say that you no longer find Texas and its culture endlessly fascinating? A: Not endlessly fascinating, no. I never did. But I think the demographics predicted for the state in about 2020 promise a very interesting future. A truly multicultural population. It will be interesting to see what survives of the past and of the mythology. In any event I’m a Texan, and this state is part of me. I know certain things about Texas in my blood and bones. But Texas ain’t the whole world, not by a long shot. So you’re moving on? Absolutely. I’m movin’ on. Word has it that your latest project, a novel, is top secret. Could you at least give us an idea of what it’s about? Ummm … Texas. On a personal note, are the rumors true that your wife, Betsy Berry, urges you to make obscene amounts of money so that she may pursue exotic beauty regimens in European capitals? Yes. Tell me, Don, why you consented to this interview instead of writing a more conventional introduction to your book. First, I thought a standard sort of introductory essay would be boring. And second, I thought this short-hand kind of q. & a. might be something different. Do you think some readers will find it coyly post-modern? Oh, now don’t take that tone with me. Actually, I think until now you’ve asked some probing questions. I think we’ve touched all the bases, laid down the groundwork, set up some parameters; in short, I think you can stick a fork in this interview, it’s done. Don Graham’s most recent book, Giant Country, Essays on Texas, was published last month by TCU Press. This excerpt of the introduction is reprinted with permission. JAN REID RESCUE FUND Austin writer and longtime friend of the Observer, Jan Reid, was shot and seriously injured in a Mexico City robbery. Friends of Jan Reid have established a fund to help pay his medical expenses. Contributions to the Jan Reid Rescue Fund can be mailed to P.O. Box 13151, Austin, Texas 78711-3151. GRASSROOTS NEWS MEDIA CONFERENCE & CULTURE JAM Austin & San Marcos, June 19-21 Organizing alternatives to corporate and government media, and struggling for liberty, justice, peace, and the free expression of creativity Chiapas Radio; Black Liberation Radio, maquiladora union organizers; members of FreePacifica, and others from China, Australia, Spain, Ireland, Canada, and Mexico For more information: Grassroots News Network ; online: 21st CENTURY DEMOCRATS May 18 A Perfect Candidate: The 011ie North for U.S. Senate Race. Join Mayor Lee Brown, Congressman Nick Lampson, Carroll Robinson, and Senate candidate David Bernsen at the Houston premiere of a powerful new documentary from the makers of The War Room. Reception at 6 p.m., movie at 7. Angelica Film Center & Cafe, 510 Texas Avenue, Houston. May 21 The War Room: Inside the ’92 Clinton/Gore Campaign Join Congressman Lloyd Doggett, State Reps Elliott Naishtat and Sherri Greenberg, Senate candidate Mary Moore and others for a silent auction and reception starting at 6 p.m., movie at 7. Alamo Cinema Drafthouse, 410 Colorado, Austin. $1,000, $500, $250, $100 levels. All proceeds go to place workers in Texas legislative races. May 21-23 Free Campaign Training School at this free event in Austin. Promising graduates will be placed in ’98 races in Texas. Registration deadline: May 14. Contact: Andy Brown or Katy Griffith at 512-467-8683 or dems21st THE TEXAS OBSERVER 31