The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983 Page: 110
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Reflections from a Limestone Ledge, Graves's third major book, is a
collection of essays that their author calls "footnotes" to Hard
Although John Graves's regular contributions to Texas Monthly,
from which these essays are collected, are among that magazine's
strongest features, and despite the fact that he has endeavored to avoid
repetition of material already worked in his previous books, the reader
who comes to Reflections from Hard Scrabble will feel a strong jolt of
deja vu. While some of the subject matter is new, such as viticulture
in the essay "Vin du Pays," the livestock, crops, and the land itself
will be sufficiently familiar to readers of Graves's older books to raise
the question of whether or not he has overgrazed this particular liter-
ary field. His essay on poultry raising, in particular, is much like the
section on the same subject in Hard Scrabble, which itself was much
like Roy Bedichek's ruminations on chickens and their care in Ad-
ventures with a Texas Naturalist. Nevertheless, the essays are without
exception skillfully written and enriched with a fine ironic humor, as
well as a great affection for their subjects. In "Old Blue and Some
Other Dogs," especially, Graves exhibits his talent for blending ironic
wit with heart-felt sincerity, producing here a story of the loss of a
well-loved dog without falling into the trap of maudlin sentimen-
tality that is the ruin of most products of that genre. Worthy of spe-
cial note, also, is the skill with which the author arranged this group
of occasional pieces into a finely unified volume, much as if he had
designed them specifically as chapters in a book. Like the unmortared
stone fences of Graves's native hill country, Reflections is constructed
of bits and pieces never designed to fit together, yet made to achieve
a unity that is more enduring than the sum of its individual parts by
the hands of a master craftsman.
John Graves has also contributed the introduction to Landscapes
of Texas, number three in the Louise Lindsey Merrick Texas Environ-
mental Series published by the Texas A8M University Press. Here
he quotes an old rancher friend as observing that the best thing about
living on a piece of Texas prairie or plains is that "there's not a
single thing here that's special enough to bring a tourist five miles out
of his way" (Landscapes, p. 15). Nevertheless, the main purpose of this
lavish picture book is to attract tourists to spend time and money
in Texas. Selected from the files of Texas Highways, these photo-
graphs are skillfully composed and gorgeously colored picture-
postcard type scenes of East Texas lakes, Hill Country rivers, coastal
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983, periodical, 1982/1983; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101209/m1/130/: accessed January 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.