The Bookshelf, The Parlor, The Young Texas Reader, and the Monthly

The Texas Bookshelf is different from the The Texas Parlor, http://texasparlor.blogspot.com/ . The Texas Parlor carries "general" bookish information and non-book information and even different Texana news and notes of use to the bibliographically challenged and other nosey folks intersted in historical, literary, and cultural observations. Will's Texana Monthly may carry material from either blog, but extends itself beyond those, especially for longer compilations or treatments. The Monthly, the Bookshelf and the Parlor are all companions. So, is the Young Texas Reader http://youngtexasreader.blogspot.com/ which specialized on books and such things for the youngest to the teenagers.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tejano, a novel - Allen Wier

    Tejano.  A Novel by Allen Wier.  Dallas:  Southern Methodist University, dist by TAMU Consortium, 2006.  Dark maroon cloth on boards, tan endpapers with flecks of blue, with Acknowledgements and an Epilogue. 736 pages.  ISBN 087075069.  http://www.tamu.edu/press & http://www.allenwier.com/

 

Allen Wier, a San Antonio native, wrote three previous novels Blanco, Departing as Air, and A Place for Outlaws and other writings in his professional career as a creative writing professor now at the U of Tennessee.  He's gathered awards from state, regional, and national sources.  He's good. TIL to Paisano to Guggenheim etc.  Richard Bausch calls it Tolstoyan in scope. Thomas McGonigle (LA Times) uses Don Quixote as a comparison.  For my money Michener's epic Texas pales compared to Wier's Tejano.

So his novel Tejano is been quite admired for this authenticity and its successfully sustained story line over its 736 pages.  A reader can gain some measure of the plot by scanning the table of contents that is also annotated with significant events from each of the 43 chapters.  The story is written as if by a series of witnesses and the dramatis personae list of "Witnesses" precedes the prologue.  The witnesses append to the life and journey of Gideon Jones, a picaresque figure, and the stories those met by Jones, with considerable other focus from Knobby Cotton, now a freedman. 

Jones is an itinerate mortician from which circumstances his stories often arise, and his "journal" stands as the basis of his tales.  Ultimately, the stories from Texas and elsewhere coalesce into a collage of the face of Texas – a cavalcade of Chaucerian or Boccaccioan characters en route to the land beyond the Red River.  The settings of the tales stretch from ante-bellum to the push back against the Comanche territory in the latter 1800's.   Their stories develop in a camp during the Comanche period.

There are vivid details, human portraits, and intriguing narratives.  For local application, if you enjoyed McMurtry's Lonesome Dove or the Cormac McCarthy novel trilogy, Tejano is a novel for you.  And certainly it's required for any substantial Texas collection.

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I don't like too much this book, but This is the most neglected masterful novel of the past 50 years.