Representations of [the Great State of] Texas

The great James Hynes presents your literary guide to West Texas.

I am not a Texan. Mind you, I’m not apologizing, though maybe I am being a little bit defensive. Texas was its own country once, and Texans have never come close to getting over it. Just last week, on North Lamar here in cosmopolitan Austin, I saw a homeless guy wearing a black T-shirt that said, in big white letters, “Fuck y’all. I’m from Texas.” Which is a hilarious and even charming sentiment from a homeless guy, but not so funny when it comes from, say, the president of the United States. But there you have it: Dagoberto Gilb has pointed out that Texas literature has more of a national character than a regional one, and all I’m saying is, as your tour guide to West Texas literature, I’m a foreigner, a native Michigander, an NPR listener, a daily reader of the New York Times, a Midwestern college-town liberal, a wearer of Birkenstocks, an atheist. A Yankee, in short. So the selection of books that follows is by no means an official one. They’re just the books about West Texas that I love.

In that spirit, I thought at first I wouldn’t mention Larry McMurtry at all (just like I’m not going to mention Cormac McCarthy, except in passing), but then I decided that was just too willfully idiosyncratic, like writing about Elizabethan England and not mentioning Shakespeare.

Quick defense of Texas, where I was born, and which I love: George W. Bush is no more a Texan cowboy than Cormac McCarthy is a former Andover prep school cheerleader.

He’s an old money New England Yankee who originally, and ironically, hails from The Constitution State. (Image of Bush at Phillips Academy taken from this article.)


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