Heritage, Volume 8, Number 1, Winter 1990 Page: 24
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SHORT REVIEWS BY JOHN PETERSON
The Edge of Time
Loula Grace Erdman, Texas Christian University
Press, 1988 (originally published 1950),
Knut Hamsun, the Norwegian novelist,
pioneered a spare, peasant literature that
characterized the ruggedness of his country
and its people. This novel by Loula Erdman
echoes that flavor in its descriptions of the
minimalist landscape of the Texas Panhandle.
The characters of this book are not
literate talkative prairie philosophers. They
live simply and feel deeply but have little
inclination to comment on their own condition.
Rather, they are absorbed into the
landscape. In Erdman's prose there are
moments of sheer beauty on the Texas
Plains: "The sky now had the polished look
of fine lacquer, shining, without hardness."
This is a simple story told with little embellishment
of character or plot. Nonetheless,
it conveys a reverence for the land and for
the life of the land.
Range Wars: Heated
Other Assessments of
CraigCliffordand Tom Pilkington, Editors, Southern
Methodist University Press, $10.95 paperback,
Larry McMurtry sparked a prairie fire
when he castigated Texas writers in the
Texas Observer in October of 1981. His
essay, "Ever a Bridegroom: Reflections on
the Failure of Texas Literature" spared few,
and ended with high praise for only one
Texas writer, the poet Vassar Miller. Texas
literature should focus on the changing,
modem scene, he stated, and bury the
western myth that was choking its imagery
and its potential. Nonetheless, McMurtry
himself went on to write the Pulitzer award
winner Lonesome Dove which is arguably
his finest work. Range Wars celebrates the
controversy that ensued from that article.
"Ever a Bridegroom...." is reprinted here,
with a 1987 Postscript where McMurtry
concludes that he was too mild, along with
other essays including those by Craig Clif24
HERITAGE * WINTER 1990
ford, Jose Limon, and Clay Reynolds in
response. A.C. Greene's "Fifty Best Texas
Books" is reprinted from Texas Monthly,
August 1981, and it sets the tone for the
pandemonium that ensued with the publication
of McMurtry's Observer article a few
The View from
Writers on the MexicanAmerican
Cecil Robinson, University of Arizona Press,
The Mexican perspective on the defense
of their northern frontier in the midnineteenth
century hasn't gotten much
coverage north of the Rio Grande. However,
this measured collection of translations
from contemporaries of the period
along with modem writers provides an
alternative view of an event that the US
has forgotten but that still festers in the
Mexican spirit. This book is a fine contribution
to the literature and provides newly
translated materials for a norteamericano
A Prehistoric Revolution
Paul S. Martin and Richard G. Klein, Editors,
University of Arizona Press, $35.00 paperback.
This monumental collection includes
contributions by most of the players in the
controversy over the extinction of the
giant bison and mammoth elephant and
the myriad of lesser creatures that lived in
the late Pleistocene landscape. In planetary
terms, 10,000 years isn't much, and yet
our modern landscape is considerably different
now than then. What killed these
creatures of the recent past? Was it climate,
as the glaciers retreated and oceans
lchnicai l 'rtst' va;liom n Servicts
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 8, Number 1, Winter 1990, periodical, Winter 1990; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45426/m1/24/: accessed May 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.