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

The Texas Bookshelf is different from the The Texas Parlor, . 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 which specialized on books and such things for the youngest to the teenagers.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Elmer Kelton, Sandhills Boy: The Winding Trail lof a Texas Writer - Elmer Kelton

Sandhills Boy: The Winding Trail of a Texas Writer     Elmer Kelton, Sandhills Boy:  The Winding Trail of a Texas Writer.  By Elmer Kelton..  NY:  Macmillan / Forge Books / Tom Doherty, 2007. Handback, sand and brown pictorial jacket, olive green cloth, b & w photos. ISBN: 978-0-7653-1521-2, ISBN10: 0-7653-1521-1, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches, 256 pages. $23.95.


Elmer Kelton, (1926-2009) lately of San Angelo, Texas, was a native West Texan who wrote about fifty Western novels, won a bunkhouse-load of writing awards for his work, and achieved the status of being the Greatest Western Writer of all time according to the Western Writers of America, the folks who know of such things. 

Kelton provided his memoir before his death on September 1, 2009.  Buck Kelton, his cowboy and ranch foreman father, eventually reconciled to his son's failure to become a career cowboy.  You see his son broke loose from the dusty corral and instead took to the trials and trails of Western authorship, a trade Buck skeptively considered "not working" for his pay.  Being reared on the Western plains was no easy life, but for Elmer that was his homeland, in and around Crane and Upton counties on the edge of the Chihuahuan Desert, particularly the McElroy Ranch, out around Midland way.  Later more than once he mused in the mirror, "What would Dad think?" 

Early home places were named Horse Camp, Sand Camp, and the Mayfield Place.  Young Elmer memorized the poem "Make Me a Cowboy Again for a Day" and listened to the windup Victrola with his father to "Ramona."  His mother wistfully mentioned how she had noticed a oowboy weep upon hearing "When the Works All Done This Fall."  When the author wrote of leathered faces, calloused hands, scars, and lonesome times he knew of such things.;ttWORKDONE.html

Kelton grew up, learning to read the labels on the canned goods, abetted by his mother's home-schooling. Maybe his mother was to blame for his scribbling.  He remembers she once wrote a story intended for Ranch Romances magazine.  The son took up writing before age 10 at his second-grade teacher's instruction.

He survived ranch life, studied journalism at UT, joined WW II where he met his future-wife Anni in Austria, returned home and wrote for the San Angelo Standard Times, range journals, observed oil field life, began writing short stories, and upon hearing the cautionary comments about how the new fangled media was replacing short stories added novels to his remuda. 

The volume is straight forward, poignant, with drops of dry humor.  It begins as if he were at a kitchen table sharing a cup of coffee with the reader – scattered with talk about family life and ventures, the land, the lack of rain, the mountains, cattle, and the people he knew, not a few of which were real characters.  The pace steps-up with the war, and again with the courtship of Anni, and settles down again as they take up home life on the Texas plains.  You'll not be distracted his many references to his novels; this is his life as he lived it.

Purchase a copy his memoirs; it's a good investment in good reading.  If you're not yet a Kelton reader, start with one of these:  The Time It Never Rained, The Good Old Boys, The Man Who Rode Midnight, Buffalo Wagons, The Day the Cowboys Quit, Eyes of the Hawk, Slaughter, The Far Canyon, and The Way of the Coyote.

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