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By Mark Busby

Popular for so long to a River, his now-classic meditation at the traditional and human heritage of Texas, in addition to for his masterful skill as a prose stylist, John Graves has turn into the dean of Texas letters for a legion of admiring readers and fellow writers. but except his personal mostly autobiographical works, together with challenging Scrabble, From a Limestone Ledge, and Myself and Strangers, unusually little has been written approximately Graves's existence or his paintings. John Graves, author seeks to fill that hole with interviews, appreciations, and significant essays that supply many new insights into the fellow himself, in addition to the topics and matters that animate his writing. the quantity opens with the transcript of a revealing, usually funny symposium consultation during which Graves responds to reviews and tales from his outdated buddy Sam Hynes, his former pupil and modern artwork critic Dave Hickey, and co-editor Mark Busby. Following this can be a extra formal interview of Graves through Dave Hamrick, who attracts the writer out on concerns in terms of every one of his significant works. John Graves's buddies invoice Wittliff, Rick Bass, invoice Broyles, John R. Erickson, invoice Harvey, and James Ward Lee converse to the strong impression that Graves has had on fellow writers. as well as those own observations, 9 students learn crucial points of Graves's paintings. those contain where of so long to a River inside of environmental literature and the way its writing was once a ceremony of passage for its writer; Graves as a prose stylist and a literary, instead of polemical, author; the ways that Graves's significant works current diversified features of a unmarried narrative approximately our courting to the land; the query of gender in Graves's paintings; and Graves's occasionally contentious dating with Texas per month journal. Mark Busby introduces the amount with a serious evaluate of Graves's lifestyles and paintings, and Don Graham concludes it with a dialogue of Graves's reception and literary attractiveness. A bibliography of works through and approximately Graves rounds out the booklet. John Graves, author confirms Graves's stature not just inside of Texas letters, but in addition inside American environmental writing, the place Graves merits to be extra well known. (2007)

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Sample text

Those pieces, even though they’re fairly honest, don’t for the most part have a lot of depth to them” (“John Graves,” 68). There is, however, the same persona, the cosmopolitan wanderer who has chosen to settle in a hardscrabble world where he observes the details of that world with clarity. In “Noticing,” for example, Graves begins by recalling the time he lived in New York City and observed the trivial events in 17 18 m a rk bu s by the rooms of a department store across from his apartment. He then contrasts the level of observation in the city with that required in the country, what he calls the “noticingness” of rural life: It comes from having a personal stake in the landscape that envelops you, in the various beasts and fowls and crops and objects it contains whose ownership you claim, and in the activities of many wild things that own themselves.

Mark busby: Do you remember when you first met Sam? john graves: Well, obviously I don’t remember very well because it came up between us yesterday, and I said we met in 1946, which is when I went to Columbia. He said he didn’t come until 1947, when we were in several classes together. There is an “I don’t care how liberated you think you are” from anybody who has ever been in the Marine Corps. Way down in there is a marine chauvinist. They think that other ex-marines grant them a considerable tolerance they won’t grant other people.

Ultimately, Graves makes this specific, pale, “pinched waxy” man losing his farm a representative figure: “The Loser had made us view the fragility of all we had been working toward, had opened our ears to the hollow low-pitched mirth of the land against mere human effort” (228). This is one of Graves’ continuing themes: those who work with the earth possess and understand its value; the more we lose this ability, the more diminished our humanity. But again Graves achieves his purpose in a subtle, understated way by allowing the narrative and the details to carry the point.

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