The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004

Book Reviews

Communities, Wrobel's analysis doesn't return to those roots in connecting
imaginations and nations. Second, by not engaging Anderson, Wrobel missed
an opportunity to look at his pioneers through the lens of anthropologist Vic-
tor Turner's Dramas, Fields, and Metaphors, an important theoretical leg of An-
derson's work. Third, there is an absence of overall thesis, explained away in
the introduction, but, given the wealth of data Wrobel collected, painfully ab-
sent in the last section of the book. Nevertheless, this is an important arena of
research and Wrobel has done an excellent job providing an opening series of
propositions.
University of Massachusetts, Boston Kent Curtis
Thzs Stubborn SelfI Texas Autobiographies. By Bert Almon. (Fort Worth: Texas Chris-
tian University Press, 2002. Pp. x+419. Notes, bibliography, index. ISBN
0-87565-266-2. $39.95, cloth.)
Bert Almon's Thzs Stubborn Self." Texas Autobiographies is a selective study of eigh-
teen Texas authors, some well known and others less familiar, who provide many
perspectives of the state's diverse character. Almon utilizes autobiographical
works along with other narratives that provide revelations on both the writer and
their respective interpretations. While Almon states that the "sense of place
makes Texas autobiographies most distinctive," (p. 7) he provides many other
points of reference of interest to historians and devotees of literature. The re-
flections and stories of these gifted writers provide an insightful examination of
the regional culture as Texas evolved from its rural, agrarian roots to the mod-
ern, urbanized state.
Almon confines his quest to twentieth-century subjects, which sets this study
apart from Tom Pilkington's State of Mind: Texas Literature and Culture (1998). Al-
mon begins with Sallie Reynolds Matthews, J. Frank Dobie, Hallie Stillwell,
William Owens, and other writers who utilized nineteenth-century settings. The
author provides extensive examination of each and provides grounds for resur-
recting some of J. Frank Dobie's tarnished literary reputation. Almon acknowl-
edges Dobie's deficiencies and his many critics. Yet he argues that Dobie
possessed "an eye for eccentricity" (p. 59). Dobie's autobiography Some Part of
Myself reveals the author's independent nature. The Texas folklorist, who recog-
nized many of his shortcomings, stimulated freedom of expression in a culture
that often derided critics who questioned the status quo.
Additional studies of contemporary scribes include Larry McMurtry, A. C.
Greene, and Mary Karr. Pat Mora, Gloria Lopez-Stafford, and John Phillip San-
tos provide insight from the perspective of Mexican Americans and the influ-
ence of the borderlands culture on literature. Jewell Babb, Auntie Mae Hunt,
and Charlie C. White contribute oral histories of African Americans in the state
from the time of Jim Crow through the civil rights era.
Rather than dwell on the tired theme of Texas individualism, Almon illus-
trates the influence that geography and culture have on the works of this selec-
tive group of Texas writers. This study provides significant contributions for
historians. The influence of shared institutions appears in many of the autobi-
ographies. How different communities practiced religion and its importance

200oo3

357

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101224/. Accessed April 20, 2014.