Date of this Version
Great Plains Quarterly Volume 28, Number 1, Winter 2008, pp. 73.
In her career as critic and scholar, Lou Rodenberger has made a significant contribution to the study of Texas literature. Texas Women Writers: A Tradition of Their Own (1997), which she co-edited with Sylvia Grider, is in particular a readable and extremely useful literary history. Rodenberger's new book, Jane Gilmore Rushing, offers a full-scale biography and critical assessment of one of the most important Texas women writers of the twentieth century.
Rushing's engaging memoir, Starting from Pyron (1992), supplies much of what we know about the author's beginnings. Jane Gilmore was born in 1925 and grew up in the community of Pyron in Scurry County northwest of Abilene, in an area known as "the breaks." Her early adulthood was filled with college, graduate work, teaching (she taught for many years at Texas Tech University), marriage, and motherhood. Her focus on writing didn't begin until the late 1950s or early 1960s.
Rushing's body of work is not an extensive one. Before her death in 1997, she published seven novels, two books of nonfiction, and a handful of short stories. She was unashamedly a regionalist. She once said her work "sprouted out of [my] West Texas background like mesquite out of a prairie pasture." Much of her fiction is set in the village of Walnut Grove, modeled no doubt after her home town.