The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

cavalierly .. ." (p. 138). There isn't much there that would appeal to an
audience that makes Jackie Collins a multimillionaire.
University of Texas at Austin DON GRAHAM
Range Wars: Heated Debates, Sober Reflections, and Other Assessments of
Texas Writing. Edited by Craig Clifford and Tom Pilkington. (Dal-
las: Southern Methodist University Press, 1989. Pp. xvii+ 188.
Preface, selected bibliography, index. $22.50, cloth; $10.95,
paper.)
It is a healthy sign of the times that the debate over what constitutes
Texas literature-whether there is one or not, who is entitled to be a
part of it, and even whether any of it is any good (a new issue)-can
now go on with only moderate reference to the Dobie ethos, which
dominated all discussion until the mid-198os. Fortunately, the appar-
ent new touchstone, Larry McMurtry, is both literate and provocative,
willing to challenge rather than dictate, and among the writers and crit-
ics there is a growing number who will neither simply bow under the
challenge nor defensively insist on the literary merits of Old Yeller.
Range Wars: Heated Debates, Sober Reflections, and Other Assessments of
Texas Writing is a collection of responses to McMurtry's 1981 Texas Ob-
server essay, "Ever a Bridegroom," which declares that Texas cronyism
has produced "a pond full of self-satisfied frogs." Some of the pieces in
the book, assuming (no matter how tongue-in-cheek) that a power
struggle to replace Dobie is a Texas necessity, illustrate the very point
that McMurtry was making, but underneath the narrow concerns with
taste control, certain issues emerge that get at the heart of how Texas
literature defines Texans.
The central issue at this point is what Don Graham calls the Palefaces
versus Redskins, the cultural war between the literary, Yuppish writers,
many of whom have emigrated or returned to Texas cities from the
East, and the blatantly vulgar realists, who claim to have stayed at home.
If McMurtry represents the Palefaces, certainly A. C. Greene, with his
list of fifty favorite Texas books that starts this collection, heads up the
Redskin faction. Those interested in the personalities surrounding
Texas literature may enjoy watching the sides line up, but the point that
emerges is this: that whatever Texas literature is or may become, what-
ever the sociological compulsions from which its various writers define
the region, the cowboy myth alone does not suffice. Which is not to de-
nigrate its power as a strong cultural force shaping what we now are.
Despite the "in-group" tone that characterizes many of the essays, in
which Texas Institute of Letters equals Texas Literature, two other voices

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101214/. Accessed September 17, 2014.