Old Yeller by Fred Gipson.
There is a list, but it’s at the end of this. This work starts out with an author not on the list. This starts James Michener, who was supported by Texas, wooed by Texas, and who finally made his home in Texas and died in Texas.
I met James Michener once.
It was like this. I saw an old man who had broken into my desk. My desk was an old, huge wooden desk against the wall of a midsized Texas newsroom.
I stood a bit to the side and behind him. The man rummaged through all the papers and files and personal debris on my desk quite slowly and methodically.
To my surprise, he sat down in my chair. Then he opened the desk tray and rummaged through my pens and notebooks. Then he opened the two file drawers on each end, and rummaged through and read the stack of assignments and news clippings, and files of stories in progress.
Then he opened my steel cabinet file to the side. One had more files and papers, but the other had a huge stash of snacks buried under newspapers, and he was steadily working toward that.
“What are you doing?” I demanded and he jumped to his feet, angry and frightened.
I found myself merely angry. A desk in a newsroom is subject to searches by every bored editor and reporter at some point, but not blatantly, and not while I could see it.
I got in his face. “Are you a thief or just an old snoop?”
He opened his mouth, face red and embarrassed and still a bit scared
A commotion came from behind me and the sports editor slid between the old man and me.
“Alan, Alan…” he said worriedly. “I’d like to introduce you to James Michener.”
“The author?” I asked, but I recalled a jacket cover. I still was angry, but restrained myself. I just had threatened a Pulitzer Prize Winner for Fiction.
“Sure, Alan,” said the sports editor. “Mr. Michener is researching a book on Texas. I’m showing him about. Have you read his work?”
“I’ve read all your books,” I said to Michener.
The old man nodded, slightly pacified.
“Why’d you use a Waco Tigers baseball cap in The Drifters?” I asked.
“What?” the sports editor perked up. A sports question, it seemed to him.
“Yes,” I said. “The characters are in Morocco and become acquainted with a corrupt little kid wearing a Waco Tigers baseball cap.
“No reason,” Michener said. “I just wrote it.”
His answer fell petulantly flat and false.
“Why’d you go through my stuff?” I asked Michener.
“Which book do you like best?” Michener asked.
“Sayonara,” I said without hesitation. “It moves smoothly, it’s clean, uncluttered and powerful. As the story ends, it rips your heart out. Lo the postillion. It’s not one of those heavy tomes that weight down library shelves untouched for years and years. It’s short, and bright. It’s by far your best book.”
Michener looked at me like I reached into his chest cavity and ripped out his heart. The answer upset him greatly, and he left under the wing of the sports editor.
Texas and Michener were supported handsomely by Governor Bill Clements and the literati and intelligentsia. It won Texas Monthly’s Bum Steer award and spawned a movie. But it is a weighty tome that gathers dust on library shelves.
I don’t recommend it.
Lo the postillion.
With this digression finished, here are the books either by Texans or about Texas you should read.
1. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry.
2. The Wind by Dorothy Scarborough
3. House of Breath by William Goyen
4. Old Yeller by Fred Gipson.
5. Savage Sam by Fred Gipson.
6. Blood And Money by Thomas Thompson.
7. In Big Trouble by Laura Lippman.
8. Pale Horse, Pale Rider by Katherine Anne Porter.
9. The Wounded Buzzard On Christmas Eve by John Erickson.
10. Sironia, Texas by Madison Cooper.
11. A Street Full of People by Winston M. Estes.