Historical fiction, journalism, oral history and a dose of Mark Busby’s imagination come together in Cedar Crossing, Busby’s latest novel.
When Jeff Adams, a college student, is given an assignment to research family history, he discovers that his grandfather witnessed a mysterious triple lynching in the Trans-Cedar Bottoms area of Henderson County, west of Tyler in northeast Texas. As Adams begins to piece together his family’s recollections, the story becomes more complicated, but at its core it remains a tragic example of Trans-Cedar race relations and area citizens’ inability to accept the love between a white man and a young black woman.
The novel’s setting—East Texas at the turn of the century and in the 1960s—is the perfect backdrop for a story with civil rights and race relations at its heart. Cedar Crossing gives Busby, a scholar of the American West, the chance to explore how family feuds and the South’s troubled past can turn a historical event into a part of Texas mythology; even today, the Trans-Cedar Tragedy remains shrouded in mystery, despite making contemporary front-page headlines for months. For Cedar Crossing, Busby researched original historical documents and, like his protagonist, gathered oral re-tellings regarding the tragedy.
Busby’s other books include Fort Benning Blues and Larry McMurtry and the West: An Ambivalent Relationship. He is also a past president of the Texas Institute of Letters.