The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 85, July 1981 - April, 1982

Book Reviews

who is not all that well known. The answers are less than scintillating.
Overall, though, Bennett's interview technique produces focused com-
mentary.
Some of the interviews will be important in the future. Elmer Kel-
ton, a widely read but not very well known Texas writer, gives a good
account of his efforts to crack the formula Western market and of the
ways in which historical research is incorporated into his shoot-em-ups.
Shelby Hearon talks very specifically about structural and thematic
patterns in her novels, one of the few places in the book where literary
analysis replaces generalized opinions.
Despite Bennett's attempts in his introduction to explain his prin-
ciples of selection, some major Texas writers are not included. Three
leap to mind: William Humphrey, William A. Owens, and Benjamin
F. Capps. The book also contains a definite West Texas tilt. Seven of
the twelve are West Texas authors. (And what is Frances Mossiker?
West France?) Only two, William Goyen and, less clearly so, Leon
Hale, represent East Texas. Thus the omission of Humphrey and
Owens is particularly damaging if what is needed is a balanced, whole
picture of the state's literary scene.
It is clear from Bennett's comments that he embarked on a personal
regional literary education when he began preparing for this book.
One is not surprised, for there are no guidebooks to Texas fiction. It
is also clear that the writers themselves have little sense of historical
antecedents, of a literary tradition. The one consensus that emerges
among the twelve writers is that John Graves is the foremost Texas
author of the present. This should be proof enough that the Dobie
tradition of veneration of country things remains strong in a state that
since 1928 has been predominantly urban in character.
Bennett includes a bibliography of books published by the twelve
authors. This is helpful for the beginner, but one must realize that
Bennett's twelve are by no means the only writers of interest in Texas
today.
University of Texas, Austin DON GRAHAM
Over Here: The First World War and American Society. By David M.
Kennedy. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980. Pp. vii+
404. Maps, bibliography, index. $19.95.)
The First World War, David Kennedy believes, was for the United
States "a sad story, a tale of death, broken hopes, frustrated dreams,

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 85, July 1981 - April, 1982. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101208/. Accessed November 1, 2014.