The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992 Page: 123

Book Reviews

grew from capital generated from the sale of that commodity that old-time
cowboys considered the bane of their life: barbed wire. The Ellwood's dealings
in barbed wire makes the book partly a business history.
The endpapers sporting photographs of livestock on the ranch-Hereford
cattle and quality quarter horses-set the tone for the book's other photo-
graphs that include men and stock on the ranch as well as principal person-
alities, structures, and documents associated with the ranch. Many of these
come from the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech University, which figured
heavily in Kelton's research.
Kelton's style is readable and lively, and his use of anecdotal examples makes
the text enjoyable and concrete. The index is inclusive, and the citation of
source materials clear and valuable to anyone interested in pursuing the subject
further. The extensive interviews done by both Steve and his father serve as
part of a growing effort to document the life of the cowboy and rancher at a
time when their existence is constantly pressured and often denied.
Hardzn-Simmons University LAWRENCE CLAYTON
Taking Stock: A Larry McMurtry Casebook. Edited by Clay Reynolds. (Dallas:
Southern Methodist University Press, 1989. Pp. xix+45o. Preface, ac-
knowledgments, introduction, notes, bibliography, notes on contributors.
$26.95, cloth; $12.95, paper.)
A casebook is a collection of information that may be used for reference and
instruction, and for that reason alone this is a valuable work for readers, teach-
ers, and scholars of Larry McMurtry's more than fifteen novels, miscellaneous
essays, and critical studies published over the past thirty years. Editor/novelist
R. C. (Clay) Reynolds and his six contributing editors have collected forty-one
essays, reviews, and articles from more than five hundred writings into this
large, handsomely printed volume. Taking Stock is in six divisions, not including
Reynolds's introduction that ends with a solid study of McMurtry's Anything for
Bzlly (1988), a kind of contemporary Western odyssey over the llano estacado.
In "Speaking Plain," James Ward Lee perceptibly deals with McMurtry's re-
cent encounters with critics, the Texas Institute of Letters' members, and with
readers, many of whom see McMurtry as either the Texas "bad-boy of letters"
or as a brilliant Texas writer. At one time McMurtry raised the ire of some with
his sardonic comments on Texas writers, regional writers, and in particular
with his tirade against what he called the "Holy Old Timers," J. Frank Dobie,
Walter Prescott Webb, and Roy Bedichek. Craig Clifford and Tom Pilkington
in Range Wars (1989) have pretty much covered that issue. Editor Reynolds
confides that after reading these essays, "it might be easier to determine whether
Larry McMurtry's novels are merely heat lightning or whether they constitute a
bona fide and lasting Texas thunderstorm" (p. 6). In the meantime McMurtry
apparently has returned to Texas and its themes and landscape.
As an Oregonian I had never heard of Larry McMurtry until I came to Texas
in 1972 and was assigned to teach a course called the Literature of the South-
west. I selected a couple of the "Holy Old Timers," not knowing then they were


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992, periodical, 1992; Austin, Texas. ( accessed December 11, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.