The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992

Book Reviews

upon the journalistic side of his experience. Ranging from sketches to inter-
views to appreciations, it brings together work from 1983 through 1989. Orga-
nized according to no discernible plan, these essays are of varying interest.
The slightest pieces-and they are not many-are those that seem rooted in
the author's personal experiences. "A Heart As Big As Texas," for example,
contains a scant four pages of reflection upon the death of Ernest Tubb and
offers little beyond the kind of generalized tribute we all like to make about
those artists whose work we admire. In contrast, a much fuller article on Roy
Orbison is of considerably more interest because of the research material re-
vealed in the trip Woolley made to Wink, Texas, Orbison's hometown, and the
perceptive comments about the singer from neighbors and schoolmates who
remember Orbison. It also contains the best single observation in the whole
book, from a woman who is explaining why she likes to live in Wink, far out in
the bleak oil patch: "And I can't stand trees for very long. They get in the way
of the sky" (p. 213).
The most successful sketches bring to life their subjects, either through inter-
views with them, such as H. Ross Perot or world-champion poker player, Bill
Smith, or interaction with people who know the subjects well. The poker ar-
ticle, "Just A Friendly Game," is perhaps the best of the you-are-there pieces,
because Woolley explains in detail exactly how Bill Smith cleaned out Woolley
and his buddies of several hundred dollars in no time at all.
Somebody once described literature as news that stays news, and the problem
with journalism is that time has a way of undermining what seems important
news at the moment. The piece on Tex Schramm comes burdened with such
ironies. The article, published in December 1987, begins with Tex's opinion
that December 6, 1987, was the low point of his life. The Cowboys had been
beaten the day before by the Atlanta Falcons, the worst team in pro football at
that time, in front of the smallest crowd in the history of Texas Stadium, and
Tex thought it was the end of the world. Yet as everybody knows, that was only
the beginning. If some of the pieces have a stale quality, it is not Woolley's fault,
but on the other hand the reader cannot help but feel the lack.
If these disparate essays, sketches, and articles have a common theme, it is
what one might call the last-picture-show perspective on Texas. Woolley, born
the same year, 1936, as Larry McMurtry, comes from an older, now vanishing
Texas, and he is hard-pressed to find a good bar, a basic greasy hamburger, or
a jukebox with real country-western tunes. They exist still, even in Dallas, but
Woolley is worried that some day they won't.
Unverszty of Texas at Austn DON GRAHAM
Fred Gzpson at Work. By Glen E. Lich. (College Station: Texas A&M University
Press, 1990. Pp. xxvi+ 125. Preface, acknowledgments, chronology, after-
word, notes, bibliography, index. $29.95.)
It's doubtful that Fred Gipson would have liked this book, but not because
there is anything wrong with it. It is a scholarly study of the literary output of
one of Texas's best writers, which is probably why Gipson wouldn't think much

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117153/. Accessed August 28, 2014.