The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

strong plots leads to his favoring stories in which the action is often more
important than the meaning of the action, and a good many "good old
boys" find themselves at home in these pages. Welcome inclusions come
from Thomas Zigal, Carolyn Osborn, and Hughes Rudd, who both kid
and probe the Texas product. And especially welcome is Haryette R.
Mullen's "What Can't Be Measured," an original and powerful work
to which the Texas setting is incidental and the Texas myth foreign.
By etymology, anthologies are "a gathering of flowers," which equates
usually to "a mixed bag." Graham's books are no exception. But he's
a trustworthy and jaunty guide through the Texas he creates. Like J. Frank
Dobie, who initiated the "Life and Literature of the Southwest" course
Graham now teaches at UT, Austin, he is irreverent about much in
scholarship and the academy, though he clearly reveres a certain vision
of Texas letters. His faith in this vision leads to anthologies that short-
change a bit the literature they chronicle. If Portrait intends a historical
sweep, it hardly achieves this: Texas past and present is not only a white
male province. And modern Texas fiction embraces more than South by
Southwest presents and many more fictional modes than its selections im-
ply. It may be that the best compliment the Graham anthologies pay to
Texas as literary source is in making us aware of such omissions. This
source and writings deriving from it are richer and more varied than either
book leads us to believe.
Texas Christian University BETSY COLQUITT
Galveston: A History. By David G. McComb. (Austin: The University of
Texas Press, 1986. Pp. 267. Preface, maps, charts, photographs, il-
lustrations, notes, index. $28.50, cloth; $12.95, paper.)
In a sense, Galveston is an awkward book to classify. It is a bit too
anecdotal and selective to be a fully comprehensive urban biography, yet
it is too serious and well-researched to be lumped with the useful but usually
light city histories available in large format for so many towns. David
G. McComb seems to be seeking a middle ground between two audiences,
and he has struck pretty close to the right balance. (The press could have
made the book much more appealing to both the general audience and
academics by including considerably more photographs. The omission
of any photographs of the central characters-Sealys, Moodys, Kemp-
ners, Maceos, etc.--is especially regrettable.)
What makes McComb's work effective urban history as well as light
and interesting reading is that he establishes two interrelated themes and
carries them through the book. On the one hand, he pursues a "theoretical

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101211/. Accessed July 14, 2014.