The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985

Book Reviews
The Texas Literary Tradition: Fiction, Folklore, History. Edited by
Don Graham, James W. Lee, and William T. Pilkington. (Austin:
University of Texas College of Liberal Arts, 1983. Pp. v+238. Ac-
knowledgments, introduction, selective bibliography, contribu-
tors, notes, photographs. $1 o, paper.)
As a part of its centennial celebration, the University of Texas con-
vened a three-day symposium on the literature of the Lone Star State.
Since they like to remind other states that Texas was once a republic,
it is not surprising that Texans would seek to determine the extent to
which there is a literature that is uniquely Texan. This three-day sym-
posium dedicated to a continuing discussion was ambitious and-it
seems-often lively.
Some of the liveliness makes its way into the collection of essays from
the symposium now published as a monument to the self-examination
that took place in Austin on March 24, 25, 26, 1983. (In addition to
the editors' introduction giving an overview of the symposium and
their later discourse on Texas urban fiction, there are seventeen es-
says-mainly grouped chronologically. Fifteen of these are on groups
of writers; only Katherine Anne Porter and Walter Prescott Webb
are honored with individual essays.) Larry McMurtry's 1981 essay
"Ever a Bridegroom: Reflections on the Failure of Texas Literature"
apparently had the participants primed for debate and battle, but the
published proceedings make clear that decorum prevailed. In fact, many
of the papers are a shade too bland. The writers and critics had come
to "talk"-and they are at bottom as polite as critics and writers from
other states. They fulfilled their assignments by and large, but their
format did not provide much room for essays of distinction. Larry Mc-
Murtry's call for an urban Texas literature was the touchstone of the
symposium, but, even though McMurtry was a panelist on the last
day of the symposium, he wrote no essay to update his views. Perhaps
he reasoned that his call had already been heard; perhaps an essay was
not part of his agreement; perhaps his view of the symposium will yet

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed May 25, 2015.