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

Book Reviews

The value of Katherne Anne Porter and Texas is largely biographical. It under-
scores the exceedingly touchy and ambivalent relations Miss Porter, herself a
voluntary exile for more than half a century, maintained with the state's resi-
dent artists and intellectuals. Two landmark occurrences stand out. First, in
1939 the Texas Institute of' Letters gave its annual award to J. Frank Doble's
Apache Gold and Yaquz Szlver rather than to Miss Porter's Pale Horse, Pale Rider.
Miss Porter's consequent anger seems entirely justified. Is there a literary critic
anywhere today who would hesitate even a millisecond in judging which of
these two books is best?
Then, in the late 1950s, Miss Porter became convinced that the University of
Texas at Austin was going to build a new library in her honor. When it was clear
her expectation was the result of a misunderstanding, she gave her invaluable
collection of personal papers and manuscripts to the University of Maryland-
after the president of the University of Maryland, a former University of Texas
football player, made a pilgrimage to her Washington, D.C., home to bestow an
honorary doctorate upon her.
Even a cursory examination of Miss Porter's life and works invites specula-
tion as to how much she suffered, in Texas especially, for being female. Inevi-
tably this is a recurring concern in Katherine Anne Porter and Texas, since six of
the ten contributors are women. She did suffer because of her gender, in ways
she was aware of and in ways she was not. But in this regard her life and litera-
ture speak most eloquently for themselves.
To the novice Katherine Anne Porter buff, I recommend two books: Joan
Givner's remarkable biography, Katherine Anne Porter. A Life, published in
1982; and, even better, Miss Porter's Collected Stories, which won a Pulitzer Prize
for fiction in 1965 (the only other work of fiction by a Texas writer to win the
Pulitzer is Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove in 1985). Miss Porter's Texas
stories-"Noon Wine," "Old Mortality," "He," the sequence called "The Old
Order," and a handful more-are, quite simply, the best fiction ever written
about Texas.
Tarleton State Universzty TOM PILKINGTON
Common Bonds: Stories by and about Modern Texas Women. By Suzanne Comer.
(Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1990o. Pp. xx+340. Ac-
knowledgments, preface, glossary, notes. $22.50, cloth; $10o.95, paper.)
Common Bonds: Stones By and About Modern Texas Women, edited by the late
Suzanne Comer, culminates a decade of activity that focused on the writings
and experiences of women in Texas letters. In 1980, the project and exhibit,
"Texas Women: A Celebration of History," featured literature by Texas women.
The Wind, a University of Texas Press reprint of Dorothy Scarborough's 1925
feminist novel, went into second printing. Lou Halsell Rodenberger's 1982
landmark book, Her Work: Stories by Texas Women, drew attention to past and
current talent. Although the 1983 conference, "The Texas Literary Tradition,"
largely neglected discussion of women's writing and experience, that gap was

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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 January 28, 2015.