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The Once and Future State(Discussion)

Well, one of the things I think you might have heard in a certain consistent way is our grappling with the images, characters, and emotions in the attic of our culture. That is, we are an interesting culture in that the main elements of its myth are all disconnected from the reality most of us live. Texas is not a cattle state or even an oil state anymore. It is an urban state. And you did not see one image of a city in these clips, nor did you see any serious depiction of Hispanics, African-Americans, or the extraordinary reality of the modern Texas, which is we are as much the Ellis Island of the next millennium as New York was of the previous century. You can go into any place in any major city in Texas along the Gulf Coast and see an extraordinary mixture of peoples whose connection to these myths, to me, is very problematic.

            So I think one of the things we might talk a little bit about, what we do as writers, is how do we bridge that gap? I want to get into that by just saying just one little thing about me, which is that I had my epiphany about Texas in the mountains of Vietnam, not far from the Chinese border, which sounds like a relatively unlikely place to do so, a village where they had not seen anyone from the West since World War II, in almost—over 40 years.

            And first, I was interested in their reaction to me, which was as an animal in the zoo; that is, there was no human distance. They would come and put their faces right next to mine as if I was not aware they existed. But then I became interested in my reaction and curiosity about them, and that was—you could take their picture and capture a level of personality that is simply impossible to capture among people in the West who are used to having their picture taken, used to seeing images of faces.

            There was a transparency and a freshness about them that I suddenly realized was what had so excited me about Texas in all the years of Texas Monthly and keeps bringing me back here, and that is this is very fertile ground. There are lots of things that haven’t been written about. It’s very fresh. People are very open. If you saw Giant, that is a dead-on attempt—as laughable as part of it is, but it’s powerful to look at the transition from ranching to oil. There it is.

            And what I’m curious about is why are we not doing more about what’s going on now, and what has happened to the size and the scope of our ambitions about the present?

            HARRIGAN: It’s interesting. While you were talking, I was thinking about my seventh-grade Texas history book, which I found to be a volume of excruciating dullness after about the Civil War. Up to that point you had the Spanish explorers, you had the Indian wars, you had the Texas Revolution, you had the Civil War—you know, a sort of pageant of excitement. And then all of a sudden you had these black and white pictures of sorghum fields and refineries—no offense, Governor Bush, if you’re here—but pictures of sort of dough-faced governors, one after the other, and I thought it was a failure of history when I was reading that.

            I realize now it was a failure not just of the textbook writers but of my own imagination, and it wasn’t until I—Bill recruited me to write for Texas Monthly, and I kind of made a sideways move into journalism that I realized that those sorghum fields and those refineries and those governors were really interesting. And I think that we’ve been suppressed, I think, somehow, some way, in our imaginative response to Texas by the size and just bombast of that myth.

            And we look at Apollo 13 now and it seems obvious to us that that is a great moment in Texas and world history, and it’s this tremendous exciting human drama that wasn’t obvious at the time that Bill wrote that movie. And I think what we have to keep doing as writers—I mean, I think the most significant and most sacred duty of a writer is to pay attention. And I think a lot of the air in the room has been taken up by the size of that Texas myth in the past.

            GRAHAM: This reminds me of several things. What Steve was saying—and I always keep coming back to McMurtry because he’s such a significant figure in the cultural history of the state. And McMurtry wrote I don’t know how many novels before he wrote Lonesome Dove, but he never really cashed in; he never really made it big until he went back to that myth that you’re talking about, back to that mythic base of the Rangers and the frontier and so on.

            So it seems to me that there is, with Texas, probably an expectation nationally that there’s not with certain other kinds of states. Like what do Eastern editors expect from Nebraska, for example, a young writer from Nebraska? They don’t expect anything. But from writers from Texas, they expect certain kinds of things. They want these mythic stories told that they know about from the movies and maybe from a few classic Texas books like Lonesome Dove.

            So the Texas writer, to me, has an inherent set of problems that maybe writers from less—states with less interesting or colorful or extensive history do. I’ve always felt this. And I have a hunch that in the twenty-first century, which I keep hearing talk about, a lot of Texas stories of the past, a lot of Texas history, probably needs to be rewritten—that much of Texas history in the twentieth century has been essentially a form of mythology.

            And I understand that this morning someone was mentioning Walter Webb’s The Texas Rangers, and Webb’s would be a perfect example of a book that has been revered by generation after generation since its publication in 1935, yet that book needs to be redone completely, it seems to me. And Webb himself even, near the end of his life, had thought about redoing it and revising it, particularly in the light of changing ideas about Mexican-Americans and the clash between the Rangers and the Mexican-Americans.

            For me, the valley that Bill mentioned is the central source, I think, for future important writing about Texas. Many of the stories of the great ranches and so on probably need to be looked at again, retold. There’s still power in those myths associated with the land.

            The other thing about writing about contemporary material—it’s hard to know where the drama is in computers. There may be. Somebody may be able to write a terrific Texas novel about Michael Dell. I don’t know. It may happen.

            BROYLES: Well, I think it’s interesting that both Steve and Elizabeth are going back to these myths and reexamining them. It’s almost like we need to look at where we’ve been, or the stories we tell ourselves about where we’ve been, before we figure out where we’re going or where we are, which I think makes a certain amount of sense.

            CROOK: I really agree with something that Don was saying, that the limitations don’t only come from within Texas but are imposed on us by New York in our case, or Hollywood.

            And a case in point, I brought this horrendous cover of my book to show you. You probably can’t see a thing except the letters—

            BROYLES: It’s the Mojave Desert.

            CROOK:—the romance letters with which Doubleday brilliantly tried to sell my war book to a Judith Krantz audience. My story takes place in East and South Texas during the rainy season, and the picture here looks like Montana during a drought. You have in the background this mountain range, and in the foreground there is just some dirt and what appears to be a few tumbleweeds. We have a dead cow skeleton and a Conestoga wagon, the likes of which had never been invented by 1836, and the Conestoga wagon is moving supposedly westward toward this nonexistent mountain range.

            They were very surprised at Doubleday when I took issue with the cover. I suggested they could give me a stick of timber or something that resembled mesquite. But to them, this is what Texas looked like. They tried to convince me that Pierre, the artist, had grown up in South Texas. I wasn’t quite buying that.

            I sent them a lot of books with pictures of South Texas vegetation during the rainy season and eventually they did paint a tree line over the mountain range and take the tarp off of the Conestoga Wagon, and paint some grass over the dead cow. They kept the romance letters, but I was just delighted not to have the dead cow.

            I think there’s a sense in which we are all trying desperately to regain some sense of integrity and get out of this stuff, but it keeps being pushed back on us from the outside. They don’t perceive us in anything past the oil phase. That’s where Texas was frozen.

            BROYLES: Let’s go to the audience now. We’ll keep talking. If there are questions out there you can shout them, or you can go to the microphone.

            And Mr. Palaima is going to the microphone.

            MR. PALAIMA: Well, I’m a classicist, and as Bill knows—because he’s come and lectured in my Plan II course—I also teach a course on myths of war and violence that covers Ancient Greece and the Vietnam War period, and also the First World War primarily, but also dabbles in the American West, to a degree.

            And it seems that what you’re talking about as panelists is being locked into a kind of traditional body of myth that we really can’t shake. Mr. Harrigan went through the various myths, going back to the Spanish Conquest and the Alamo, when Bill referred to the tension between the cattle ranchers and the wildcat oil men, and this is a body of traditional myth that it seems you are locked into, or we are locked into dealing with.

            But Bill raised the point of how do you now address contemporary Texas society and make these myths to respond to significant social changes that go beyond how to make computers exciting to how to speak to the current population mix, even in our cities and the changed circumstances.

            And as a classicist, again, I’m thinking about what went on in fifth-century Athens, where again, one was locked into a body of traditional myth and yet one used the stories of the Trojan cycle. As Aeschylus has said, his tragedies were simply scraps from the banquet of Homer, and yet they constantly spoke and even sometimes in direct historical ways, for example, Euripides Trojan women and the Medean affair in Athenian history, our first case—a very well-documented case—of historical genocide. And Euripides, using traditional myth about the Trojan War, was able to speak directly to that issue.

            So is there a way in which you can talk about the Alamo and talk about the kind of myth that we see portrayed in Giant and talk about the Spanish exploration and settlement in missions around Texas that will somehow speak to contemporary life? Is there?

            HARRIGAN: That’s a tough one to answer, but if I could answer it personally, I think—I really—I’m not motivated as a writer by myth, I don’t think, not consciously. In the case of the Alamo, it was unavoidable. But I think most of us up here would say we’re just looking for something that stirs us.

            You know, the idea of taking the Texas myth and giving a new spin to it and creating another myth is not nearly as interesting to me as telling a good story. Now, there are tons of great stories in Texas. I mean, I think the great novel right now is the Blanton Art Museum controversy.

            HARRIGAN: That has everything. I mean, it’s got the old Texas, the new Texas, the sense of insecurity, the sense of what is art, what is not—I mean, a real clash of cultures.

            You could sort of gin that up into a mythic novel, or you could just go out and write it, you know. And in my own case, I think more micro than that. I mean, I hope the book becomes a macro book, but I’m not looking at it from the outside. And I don’t know how Elizabeth or Don work, or Bill, but I sidle into things from the inside.

            GRAHAM: One thing that I would say in response to your question is that, just in terms of films, it’s interesting to me that there aren’t any Giants being made now. The last, I think—maybe somebody could correct me on this—the last serious interesting film with any ambitions at all about Texas was a film made by a guy from New Jersey. It’s called Lone Star, John Sayles’s film, and I think it did take an excellent critical look at some areas of life in Texas and some myths, and it was set on the border.

            But if you look at recent Texas films coming out of Hollywood or out of independent Texas filmmakers, they’re very small. That’s the key word. And I’ll just mention four titles: Dancer, Texas, Hope Floats—which is impossible to see, impossible to finish watching that film. I tried three times out of a sense of duty, and it even stars Austin’s own Sandra Bullock, and it’s still impossible to see—Varsity Blues, which is a football film, and I think Bill liked Happy, Texas, another small-town Texas film.

            And I think the father or the mother of all of these little films is Tuna, Texas. And it’s all about these small towns full of eccentric people with accents derived from Georgia, mainly, and it’s kind of interesting and depressing in what’s going on in mainstream filmmaking with Texas as a subject.

            Now, there may be some great ones out there that are going to be released in the near future. I don’t know.

            BROYLES: We are of our own times inevitably, and what we find interesting about these myths reflects what is going on in our lives and what we think is important, and—as Shakespeare did—will write about the past with very contemporary themes.

            We do have these wonderfully mythic elements in common, a kind of common currency, a common vocabulary. And certainly you could use those elements to express whatever contemporary feelings we might have.

CROOK: Also, I think contemporary events will never have the opportunity to become rooted in the kind of mythology, say, that the Alamo has, because of journalism and media coverage. Can you imagine the Alamo taking place today? It would be on CNN: the continued 13 days of the siege. There would be no chance for the elements that were shoved under the rug to be hidden. The fact that James Bowie had made a good part of his fortune in the slave trade would be exposed from the beginning. So the heroes wouldn’t become the heroes. They would be considered mercenaries.

            So I think that we’re not really making any new myths, because it’s impossible to do that under the kind of scrutiny that we have. Basically what you have when you have writers dealing with myths at all is writers trying to correct the old ones and, as Steve says, make them into a good story by getting as close to the reality possible.

            BROYLES: I like what Don said. It’s like instead of Giant now, we have Pygmy.

            GRAHAM: But if you think about the two biggest historic events in Texas that have had national and international implications in the last 30 years, they would have to be the assassination of JFK and the Branch Davidian thing in Waco, and we even have the Branch Davidian thing on film, and we still can’t figure out what happened.

            It’s very difficult, the closer you get to the present, to try to sort it out, and I would be much more inclined myself to try to write a novel about the Kennedy assassination—I would certainly not be the first; there are quite a few of them, some by Texas writers—than I would the Branch Davidian thing, simply because of the profound weirdness of that whole cult activity and what went on and so on.

            But both of these events seem to be immensely complex and to pose all kinds of difficulties for a contemporary writer trying to sort out everything.

            CROOK: And I think the instinct to want to sort it out comes from two different things that this generation seems to revel in. One of them is a sort of lurid voyeurism and wanting to know everything, but the other is a very genuine, authentic, and honorable desire to set the record straight. And I think that this generation has demanded this in a way that the writers writing about Texas 50 and 60 years ago did not.

            BROYLES: Do we have a question here? Make it now, please.

            DR. BARROW: I’m Tom Barrow from Houston. People keep using the word myth, and I think I would call it fables, myself. My family are old Texans. My great-great-grandmother came from Ireland, settled in South Texas as a widow. People don’t remember—don’t accept the fact that the Mexican government invited the Irish in to be a Catholic barrier to Protestant migration. That’s one of those lesser-known facts of Texas history.

            My great-great-grandfather fought at San Jacinto. I had three great-great-grandfathers who fought for the Confederacy. I had the ability to be with my grandparents and hear their stories. They didn’t tell those kinds of stories. They told very, very different stories.

            My great-great-grandmother was widowed, arrived in Refugio, Texas, in 1833, and they gave her the saloon to run. You don’t hear stories about women running saloons. That’s not the common picture.

            My father was very well-involved in the oil and gas business, the Humble Company, and leased most of those large ranches in South Texas. I’ve been on almost all of them. I watched the development of that part of the state. Giant had little or nothing to do with the history of the industry in the ‘30s. It was a different kind of world. We don’t have myths; we have fables.

            HARRIGAN: I’d like to respond to that if I could. One of the main characters in my novel is a woman in Refugio running an inn in 1835.

            BROYLES: We’re finally catching up here.

            HARRIGAN: It’s not a tavern—I mean, it’s not bar or a saloon; it’s an inn. But I think you are absolutely right. The complexity of life gets sort of distilled down in the history books and in the kind of mythic takes or fabled takes that we’re fed.

            For instance, in the period you’re talking about, in 1833, yes, the Irish were extremely grateful to be part of Mexico. They had no possibility of owning land in their own country, and here they could enter their names in this calfskin book saying they owned land. They were very reluctant to rebel against Mexico. It was a highly complex situation. It was a Mexican civil war that a lot of people—some willingly, some not—were drawn into.

            And I feel like the level of scrutiny of almost any subject needs to be high for a writer to write a credible book, and I think Bill did that in Apollo 13. I think Elizabeth did it in Promised Lands, which is about the Goliad massacre and the Battle of Coleto.

            But the standards have risen. I think all of us up here feel that, that we—you know, that the bar has been raised and we’d better step up to it, because we can’t just, you know, like I said before, recycle the same old myths.

            CROOK: Liz, this reminds me of the dinner party, when you had everybody go around the table and tell the most embarrassing thing that had ever happened to them. I think I’m going to pass on it.

            Are you going to pass, Steve, or—

            HARRIGAN: Well, no. I’m going to defer to Betty Sue, who earlier this morning—

            CROOK: —articulated this very well.

            HARRIGAN:—said it very well, that one of the key elements of the Texas myth is an awareness that Texans have of this, you know, inflated identity. And I think people are always consciously or unconsciously trying to live up to that, or trying to run it down, but that’s what makes Texas an interesting place to write about, I think, because there is this internal conflict.

            There are people who think that they should be living according to this scheme that their ancestors sort of set into motion and that other expectations, like the people who designed this cover, have of them. And I think that creates a certain amount of baseline drama with all of us, and so I do think to that extent Texans are different, because, you know, there are plenty of states with no myth.

            BROYLES: Having lived outside of Texas, and I’ve kept trying to leave forever, and I keep—I’m a serial leaver. I keep leaving and coming back, leaving and coming back. And part of it was in that story I told about Vietnam—this extraordinary kind of openness and awareness and language and the way people talk, and all those kind of mystical things that go into the creation of a common culture: the things we share, experiences that now you see through different lights in the prism. They’re different for someone in a small town versus a city, someone who is Hispanic versus someone who is African-American versus someone who is Vietnamese.

            But there’s something there that we all can get together and talk about that transcends all of those things, even as you recognize the differences. I was thinking, Mr. Barrow, as you talked, I had all these pictures of my dad as a little boy, growing up in the oil fields. My grandfather was a surveyor, and he surveyed pipelines out on the oil fields, and we have all these pictures of tents and things, and of course, he thought that you should never invest in oil, and, of course, he never did.

            And I’m glad to know, Liz, that—and I want to say that so long as you are here and people like you are here—we’re always going to be different, and bless you for that.

            UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: All day long I have heard everyone talk about how bleak their adolescences were, and I have been curious about that, particularly about the furor in Texas, because I suspect there is a grand tradition that we are overlooking, in our views. Seventy years ago, Katherine Ann Porter’s work was not the kind of demythologized work. It was highly mythological, as I recall, and yet it was highly particular and realistic in terms of the small Texas town. It wasn’t invented by McMurtry in The Last Picture Show.

            I remember George Sessions Perry wrote a series of brilliant Depression books immediately after the Depression that depicted Central Texas with a poignancy and a horror that is almost impossible to miss. And then I think, of course, of Tom Lea, not only—I guess he could do anything twice—not only an interesting painter, but The Wonderful Country is a book that does not blow up the Texas man in such a way that he is a braggadocios bumpkin in buckskin, although he is a sensitive character in buckskin and, of course, a caballero, a cavalier, and a man on horseback all at the same time, who has to meet the life on the edge, as I recall, in El Paso, on foot.

            I wonder about our real pride in thinking that we have discovered the small and the particular and the well-wrought word.

            GRAHAM: I would agree 100 percent. You basically gave an outline of my syllabus for the first part of my course. Yes. But I teach George Sessions Perry and Katherine Ann Porter and so on.

            Yes. Texas literature wasn’t invented in 1992 or anything. There’s been a lot more writing than we’ve suggested today, but we’ve been talking about things from our perspective, basically.

            HARRIGAN: And literature is a corrective to that kind of stuff. I mean, you know, any good book, I think, deflates the sort of cartoon imagery that we’ve been fed, and there’s certainly been plenty of those.

            I mean The Last Picture Show, the book and the movie—there’s a wonderful scene, I think, where you hear them singing, “Texas, our Texas, all hail the mighty state,” and they couldn’t be more bored, and their eyes are glazed over, and that’s a really powerful social commentary, I think.

            And when Don was talking about the smallness of Texas movies, I think there’s a small movie that’s really big because it’s telling the truth. And that’s what literature does. It tells it in a particular way but in a way that’s trustworthy.

            CROOK: And I will say, in reference to Liz’s comment also, that all of us, even though our endeavor may be not really to debunk the myths but to escape from them, we are still all living in Texas and writing about Texas, and I think there’s a reason for that.

            When my great-great-grandfather immigrated here from England, he was a schoolmaster who had run a private school in Yorkshire, and the school went belly-up when the wool trade collapsed and nobody could afford private education and public schools came into effect in England. And so he got on a boat with his son and came over here and homesteaded in Zavala County.

            He knew nothing about homesteading, nothing about cattle. It took him almost fifteen years to get the house built. He didn’t know how to hammer any boards together. But he stayed. And his sisters came over, and they set up a tent attached to this little pen that he was living in, and they called it the west wing, and they stayed too.

            And what we always wondered was why he didn’t go back to England, because he was never successful in Texas. His sons grew up to be successful, but he never was. And it’s interesting that with all that sense of Englishness that was passed down in our family—and the deepest roots were English—none of us have ever thought of leaving Texas, and we’re spread out all over Texas, several generations deep now.

            STALEY: I was visiting a writer in New York about two months ago who’s been away from Texas for 40 years. I went to college at Columbia and lived in New York for twenty years, and he’s recently had a very controversial play in New York. His name is Terrence McNally. He’d been away for 40 years.

            And he said, “You know, I still, though, have this yearning to go back to Texas. I wasn’t very happy when I was there as a boy, but I still smell that Gulf air.” And he said, “I have this urge.” And I asked him, “Well, now, what really brought you back to thinking about Texas?” He said, “Well, for example, I had an English teacher here who visited you, and she said, ‘Would you be interested in having Terrence McNally’s papers at the Ransom Center?’ I said, ‘Absolutely.’ She said, ‘You know, I taught him English in Corpus Christi, I believe it was. And she said, ‘I’ll just tell him to get them down here.’”

            And I called him up, and I said, “Mr. McNally, your old English teacher told me to have you send your papers down here.” He said, “She did? Well, I guess I’d better get them down here then. But there’s a problem.” I said, “What? Well, they’re in Madison, Wisconsin. I think I leant them—I put them on deposit at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.” I said, “Well, that could be a problem. I guess they really ought to be in Texas.” He said, “Forty years I’ve been away, but I’m still a Texan. I’m coming back.”

            I was also pleased that someone mentioned Katherine Ann Porter. And there are—writers make myths, but frequently so much of what is Texas is the individual myth-maker.

            Another person who has such a reputation in Europe that many of you admire who also did some interesting films is Patricia Highsmith, another Texan, who still, after her 55 years of exile in Switzerland and France, still talked about this sense of Texas.

            So it isn’t just simply the big picture. It’s also these individuals whose work seems to reflect the myths that are part of Texas. Maybe they’re private myths, but they are real to these writers because they’re Texans. Even though they don’t write necessarily about Texas subjects, they have still been shaped and formed by much of the culture that was here.

            CROOK: Yes. I think also our school systems have kept that alive. We’re one of the few states that still teaches state history in the public schools. While I was researching Promised Lands, I came across this wonderful book called Early Times in Texas: The Adventures of Jack Dobell, which is the story of a young man who came to fight in the Texas Revolution.

            He ended up in the Battle of Coleto and imprisoned at Goliad and was let out during the massacre to be shot with the other prisoners, and he escaped and survived in the wilderness for a couple of weeks until he found Sam Houston’s army and fought with them at San Jacinto. His tales of having survived in the wilderness are very interesting, and I ended up liking him enough to base a character on him.

            Later when I was promoting the book in San Marcos, I came across my seventh-grade teacher, and he said, “I’m really not surprised that you decided to use Early Times in Texas and the character there as one of your characters. You loved that book.” I didn’t know what he was talking about. I said, “Do you mean I read that book in seventh grade?” And he said, “You took that book home with you. You were in love with that book in seventh grade.” And I said, “I just discovered that book three years ago when I was doing my research.”

            I think that these stories get so imbedded in our minds that we don’t shake them. We don’t quite know they’re there. We’re like these plants that are soaking up the sun, but we don’t see our roots down there and don’t know that that’s where the ideas are really coming from. And it was just very surprising to me that I had ever laid eyes on that book before and that it wasn’t a new discovery.

            BROYLES: I want to say something that’s, I think, the inverse of what Tom was just talking about, which is the way Texans take their Texan-ness with them when they leave.

            When I was living in California doing a magazine there, we once did an article about LAX and how many coffins they transported back of people who had lived in California for thirty, forty, fifty years but wanted to go to Illinois or Michigan or wherever it is to be buried because that’s who they still thought they were. I think there was one thing very interesting about Texas. You don’t have to be born here. There’s something about the early Christian church that Texas has in common—you don’t have to be born here to be one. It’s never too late to be saved.

Right? And there is a kind of inclusiveness. Hey, come on in, we’ll close the doors of the Alamo behind you. Davy Crockett was here—how long?—a couple of months? We claim him.

            I think there is this something about this inclusiveness. In California, where I lived for ten years, you see this extraordinary number of license plates from other states. People don’t give up their origins. They still think they’re from somewhere else.

            Whatever power is working on us doesn’t work so clearly there. I think that’s something also to be considered: we take Texan-ness with us. We make it available to those who come in.

            We’re at the end of our session. I can take one more question, or if any of our panelists has an idea that would eloquently wrap this up? I think, Don, you’re a good candidate.

            GRAHAM: Oh, I’m not prepared to wrap it up, but I just wanted to add one little anecdote about how difficult it is if you are a Texan to escape being a Texan. For me, it was impossible.

            I went to teach in the early 1970s at the University of Pennsylvania in the Ivy League. And so I thought, Well, I’ll become a new person now, and I put on a pinstriped suit and so on. I knew I was doomed to be the Texan forever when I would walk down the hall late in the afternoon and there was a guy—who became a very famous professor of American literature—and he would see me and he would go into a crouch and draw his pistol. And I knew then I could not escape the gunfighter. I don’t own any guns, by the way.

            BROYLES: Steve, do you or Elizabeth have anything more to add?

            HARRIGAN: I just wanted to mention that, during this research I did for the Alamo book, the most inspiring quotation I came upon was something written by Stephen F. Austin in 1835. He said, “I hope a dead calm will reign over Texas for many years to come and that nothing of consequence will happen whatsoever.”

            The reason that that was inspiring to me was that I got this guy; I mean, I knew who he was. He was tired. He was exhausted. He was not this synthetic Texas hero. He was a human being. And as writers, I think, we’re kind of inspired or spurred on by those kind of larger-than-life things, but what we’re really looking for and what we have to look for are those moments where people are vulnerable and real.

            CROOK: I once heard Elmer Kelton being interviewed, and someone asked him what the basic difference was between his books and the books of Zane Grey. And he thought for a moment and he said, “Well, Zane Grey’s characters are all six-foot-three and indomitable, and mine are five-foot-nine and nervous.”

            I think that, in a way, what novelists and writers today are trying to do is glorify and dramatize the story of those of us who are five-foot-nine and nervous.

            BROYLES: Do you have one thing?

            HAYES: For the new members of the Society, you should be given a little pamphlet that sets out the founding statement of the Philosophical Society in 1837. And it ends, “Texas has her captains. Now let her have her wise men.”