Southwestern Hzstorical Quarterly
of it. He'd enjoy the attention, but would have a hard time with a sentence like:
"Gipson is neither reductivist nor reactionary." Frankly, he probably would not
have known what that sentence meant, and likely would not have cared.
Gipson was a storyteller not given to deep analysis of his work or that of
others, except, as he told me once, he had reread Old Yeller quite a few times to
try to figure out what had made it so darn successful. The reason he did that
was because he wanted to be successful again, though he never was.
Though Gipson was not preoccupied with literary symbolism, there certainly
is nothing wrong with a book that offers detailed insight into his written works.
In Fred Gipson at Work, Lich examines Gipson's writing chronologically, looking
for the connections between the events in Gipson's life and the contents of his
considerable body of work, a bibliography ranging from newspaper columns
written for the Daily Texan while Gipson was a student at the University of
Texas to his nonfiction books and novels.
Lich's work of "lit crit" will add to Gipson's well-deserved recognition as a
major Texas writer. Indeed, Lich points out that Gipson was Texas's most
widely read twentieth-century author prior to Larry McMurtry. In his analysis
of Gipson's work, Lich amply illustrates that while Gipson would not have
owned up to it, there is more to his best work than the mere telling of a good
story. As in any fine fiction, there is philosophical insight.
Fred Gipson at Work is a worthwhile addition to the relatively small shelf of
Texas literary criticism, though the academic language in the book gives it a
highbrow tone that is in sharp contrast to the man it is about.
Austin MIKE COX
Benjamin Capps and the South Plains: A Literary Relatzonship. By Lawrence
Clayton. (Denton: University of North Texas Press, 1990o. Pp. 208. Intro-
duction, bibliography, index. $19.95.)
The West is a great source of material for a writer, says Benjamin Capps, but
one has "to respect it and have the talent to use it" (p. 148). Clearly, as we dis-
cover in Lawrence Clayton's review of all Capps's work, Benjamin Capps and the
South Plazns: A Literary Relationship, Capps possessed both that respect and that
In what one might call a documentation, Clayton provides us with a succinct
biographical sketch, a review (almost a summary) of Capps's work, and a shar-
ing of the writer's sincere views about the nature of his craft: "The writer com-
bines technique with some kind of ideals of truth" (p. 146).
With carefully selected details and unpretentiously given perceptions,
Clayton makes a convincing case for Capps's status as a major American (and
definitely not just Western) writer. From his character studies of frontiersmen
in Sam Chance to his sympathetic and honest exploration of the plight of the
Indians in The White Man's Road, A Woman of the People, and Woman Chief,
Capps, for Clayton, has achieved precisely what he set out to do: "to probe the
depths of his material, to understand it, to find what is inspiring in it, to believe
in its worthiness." From his trail-drive novel The Trazl to Ogallala to his contem-
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 May 23, 2013.