Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Neglected West

I've been on a mini-Larry McMurtry kick lately, and today in the Times, Timothy Egan writes about one of McMurtry's teachers, Wallace Stegner. Stegner would have turned 100 this week, and Egan uses the occasion to write about his feud with the east coast elite. Then he opens it up to speak more broadly of western shoulders and chips. This in particular, about Norman Maclean, cracked me up:
After the success of his first book, Maclean was approached in 1981 by an editor at Knopf publishing, which had rejected the novel but was eager to take on his next project. Maclean wrote back in compacted fury.

“If the situation ever arose when Alfred A. Knopf was the only publishing house remaining in the world and I were the sole surviving author,” Maclean wrote, “that would mark the end of the world of books.”
I really wish people wrote letters like that more often these days.

In the introduction to his 1968 book of essays about Texas, In a Narrow Grave, McMurtry, who's quite conflicted about the West himself, wrote:
Being a writer and a Texan is an amusing fate, and one that gets funnier as one's sense of humor darkens. In times like these it verges on the macabre. Apparently there was a time in the forties and fifties when people sort of enjoyed reading about Texas, if the reading was light enough. The state was thought to be different -- another country, almost. It had Nieman-Marcus and the Alamo and a lot of rather endearing millionaires. . . . Alas, all is changed. We aren't thought of as quaintly vulgar anymore. Some may find us dangerously vulgar, but the majority just find us boring.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home