The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

No less acerbic is the view of Don Graham, professor of literature at the Uni-
versity of Texas at Austin: "Texas is a land largely without a 'land myth.' In mod-
ern Texas, where I live, the land is almost wholly given over to malls. What hasn't
been malled or condoed o'er awaits the next boom. Then we'll finish paving the
rest of the state that's habitable" (p. 88).
Natural history writer Ann Zwinger argues for the necessity of both worlds,
natural landscape and urban center, for literature to work. Luci Tapahonso, as-
sistant professor of English at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, shares her
poetry from the New Mexico Navajo reservation where she grew up, and Rolan-
do Hinojosa-Smith writes about the Texas-Mexico border in his essay "This
Writer's Sense of Place."
Other contributors to this eclectic, enjoyable look at the Southwest and letters
include Rudolfo Anaya, Patricia Preciado Martin, Leo Marx, Tom Miller,
Lawrence Clark Powell, C. L. Sonnichsen, Frederick Turner, and Peter Wild.
Houston Chronicle KEN HAMMOND
State Lines. Edited by Ken Hammond. Foreword by Leon Hale. (College Station:
Texas A&M University Press, 1993. Pp. xvi+223. Foreword, preface. ISBN o-
89096-557-9. $29.50.)
The series of essays entitled "State Lines" began in July 1989 as a feature of
Texas Magazine, the Sunday supplement of the Houston Chronicle. The essays for
this book, all running between a thousand and twenty-five hundred words, were
selected and edited by Ken Hammond, Texas Magazine's editor, who chose them
on the basis of exemplary style and substance.
He chose well. An essay is a short, nonfictional literary work, the history and
universality of which Leon Hale discusses in his introductory essay on essays,
dealing with a single subject. The essays Hammond chose deal with Texas sub-
jects and are vigorous, sharply defined accounts of experiences that shaped the
writers' lives. The pallid list of nostalgic generalizations that one finds in many
reminiscent essays is absent here.
An essay that will grab and hold the attention of a modern reader must be as
suspenseful as a short story. In fact, many of the best essays here are short autobi-
ographical stories within the framework of the authors' thoughtful considera-
tions of things past. Sunny Nash describes growing up in rural Madison County
in the 195os, but the core of her essay is the moving story of the death of her
cousin Doll and how that dramatic event brought her black family into a success-
ful experience in a freshly integrated public school system.
Essays like this one, that deal with experience, must evoke a real sense of time
and place, as does Michael Berryhill's account of his adventures with pecan pie
in Petrolia in the 195os. And they must have specific detail, which Berryhill pro-
vides in the form of a recipe for the ultimate pecan pie. Characters in essays
must have depth and must grow from their experiences, as does David Theis, a
natural non-hunter who describes his unhappy initiation into his family's hunt-
ing tradition. Other such characters include the ancient Ambrose, who played

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101216/. Accessed April 26, 2015.