I ™ve been thinking quite a bit lately about what our Great State is known for. What do people think of when they think of Texas?
Summer heat? Yep. Don't visit Texas right now unless you want to turn into a puddle.
Cowboys? I guess so, though honestly I can't remember the last time I saw someone wearing a cowboy hat. I ™m sure they still exist somewhere.
Football? Totally. Particularly the High School and College varieties. In the pro arena, however, other sports have given us much more to talk about recently.
In addition to these staples of our culture, I wish we were known a bit better for the great literature that has come from Texas writers over the past few decades. Our state may not be the first that comes to mind when one thinks of great writers, but there are plenty of must-reads out there created by native Texans. Let's talk for a minute about one of these writers: John Graves.
John Graves currently lives somewhere in Glen Rose on a piece of land he long ago named ˜Hard Scrabble. ™ It is typical of Graves to give a name to a piece of earth, as he has written eloquently for many years about the trees and ground and waters and wildlife that live in the state he so clearly adores.
His best known book is Goodbye to a River, which chronicles Graves ™ canoe travel down a substantial portion of the Brazos River. At the time of his trip, a series of dams were being proposed along the Brazos in an effort to control flooding, and Graves ™ fear of what would become of this beloved part of Texas creates an immensely powerful read filled with nostalgia, history, and emotion, all wound together in a writing style so unique and beautiful I have yet to find any other writer to compare it to.
Graves ™ writing is often cited as a major reason that only three of the originally planned thirteen dams were built along the Brazos. While less known than the great nature writings of someone like John Muir, Graves ™ tales about the sometimes violent Texas history are connected with an emotional bond to the land that makes the reader yearn for their own piece of ˜Hard Scrabble ™, and proves that John Graves deserves to be mentioned as one of the great environmental writers in history.
I rarely rave about living writers “ I ™m not sure why “ but I can say without exaggeration that John Graves had a major say in my becoming a writer, though he may never know it.
Do yourself a favor and read Goodbye to a River. When you reach the end you will yearn for the Texas countryside, then you ™ll be glad that you already live here.