The great James Hynes presents your literary guide to West Texas.
I am not a Texan. Mind you, I’m not apologizing, though maybe I am being a little bit defensive. Texas was its own country once, and Texans have never come close to getting over it. Just last week, on North Lamar here in cosmopolitan Austin, I saw a homeless guy wearing a black T-shirt that said, in big white letters, “Fuck y’all. I’m from Texas.” Which is a hilarious and even charming sentiment from a homeless guy, but not so funny when it comes from, say, the president of the United States. But there you have it: Dagoberto Gilb has pointed out that Texas literature has more of a national character than a regional one, and all I’m saying is, as your tour guide to West Texas literature, I’m a foreigner, a native Michigander, an NPR listener, a daily reader of the New York Times, a Midwestern college-town liberal, a wearer of Birkenstocks, an atheist. A Yankee, in short. So the selection of books that follows is by no means an official one. They’re just the books about West Texas that I love.
In that spirit, I thought at first I wouldn’t mention Larry McMurtry at all (just like I’m not going to mention Cormac McCarthy, except in passing), but then I decided that was just too willfully idiosyncratic, like writing about Elizabethan England and not mentioning Shakespeare.