reading about Texas
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Ten suggestions for your library of Texas books
By GLENN DROMGOOLE
The ten books are:
The Longhorns by J. Frank Dobie
Texas Cowboy Cooking by Tom Perini
A Personal Country by A. C. Greene
Goodbye to a River by John Graves
Interwoven by Sallie Reynolds
The Time it Never Rained by Elmer Kelton
The Train to Estelline by Jane Roberts
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog by John Erikson
Lone Star Literature by Don Graham (ed.)
And the touchstones actually all worked!
edited to move The Time it Never Rained from nonfiction to fiction...oops
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One fiction title I'd add would be George Sessions Perry's Hold Autumn in Your Hand, which is pretty honest about agricultural Texas. It's another grim story, but Texas can be a pretty damn grim state.
An EXcellent title that gets overlooked a lot these days is The Evolution of a State, or, Recollections of Old Texas Days by Noah Smithwick. Smithwick is the source for many of the stories about early Texas that have by now become legend—but he was there, and describes most of it at first hand. He was there for a lot, too--seemed to have a knack for being in the right place at the right time to know everyone and see anything important.
I absolutely agree about the value of The Time It Never Rained; people (including my own parents) who lived through the Great Drought say that book tells more truth about it than any of the historians have. Ben K. Green, a minor (but very entertaining) Texas author, said of it "I had to go open the refrigerator door and sit in front of it to finish the book, I was so damn hot and dry."