Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Winter 2008


Great Plains Quarterly Volume 28, Number 1, Winter 2008, pp. 73-74.


Copyright 2008 by the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


A geographical accident, Texas lumps together High Plains and Gulf tropics, western deserts and eastern bayous. The writings of John Graves (chiefly known for Goodbye to a River) mirror these incompatibles, relentlessly probing their transitions and significance, including their human significance. His is a perpetually thoughtful prose.

The first section of John Graves, Writer contains discussions with friends and associates plus a long interview. The second is a "festschrift" celebrating his life and writings. An essay on his relations with Texas Monthly magazine appears here, backed up by a second essay on this topic in the next section, which consists largely of critical essays on environmentalism, gender, and racism and colonialism in the Southwest.

The first two sections, at least for this reviewer, contain interesting insights but are too much the testimonies of a Good Old Boys Network involving far more hero worship than Graves can possibly feel comfortable with. The critical essays in the final section cut wider and deeper.