There's not much about Texas that isn't in the new Texas Short Stories 2; editor Billy Bob Hill reveals why.


Texas Tales

"I look for a certain authenticity," Billy Bob Hill says about the process of winnowing the 1,000 submissions he and co-editor Laurie Champion received for inclusion in Texas Short Stories 2 (Browder Springs Books, 942 pp., $18.95 paper) into the 80 that made it in. "I look for a story where some element of Texas is the plot and it can be urban or Hispanic coming-of-age or whatever but it's something that I've seen in my lifetime somewhere," he says.

The editors, who live in Dallas, attempt to encompass different cultures, different parts of the state, and "a fair mix of gender." "And by the time you hit all those categories," Hill says, "it gets to be a pretty big book." I'll say. Anyone who reads Texas Short Stories 2 and tries to make one conclusive statement must be lying, or being creative, or under deadline. The themes are too various. Better to just dive into the tome and begin wherever the spirit leads you. The spirit lead me to Don Graham's "Oil Field Girls," a little three-page marvel of personality depiction that tells the story of a security guard at UT's Harry Ransom Center who is supposed to protect the "Gunterberg Bible": "They kept it in a big glass case where couldn't nobody touch it. I never did get to use that gun, though, 'cause what kind of fool would try to steal a Bible in broad daylight. Anyways, they got plenty of Bibles at the Motel 6 if you got to have one that bad." Short story wiz Tom Doyal is also included, as are Carolyn Osborn, Jan Reid, Mark Busby, Betsy Berry, and Teresa Palomo Acosta. And Robert James Waller, who lives on a ranch near Alpine, is also standing up to be counted as a Texas writer. "I don't dislike Bridges or anything, but I think this story is quite different from that voice," Hill says. "Although ... a ladies' man is sort of the central character, admittedly, and it's kind of a good old boy story." Hill reports that Waller is working on setting up a reading in Alpine and that L.A. screenwriter Camilla Carr, who grew up in West Texas and whose story "Working Saturdays" is included in the collection, is concocting a reading in Hollywood.

"Now admittedly, East Texas is very Southern," Hill acknowledges, "while El Paso is very Western and it's a stretch to try and connect them. "Yet I try to make some coherent unit out of my books. I don't know if I succeed or not, but that's the goal."


Paulina Borsook and Alix Ohlin, the editors behind The Ex-Files: New Stories About Old Flames (Context Books, 400 pp., $15 paper), will be at BookPeople on Monday, March 13 at 7pm. Their collection features such authors as David Foster Wallace, Dorothy Allison, Junot Díaz, and Lydia Davis... Charles Robinson, author of The Men Who Wear the Star: The Story of the Texas Rangers (Random House, 358 pp., $29.95) will be at Barnes & Noble Arboretum on Friday, March 17 at 7:30pm.

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More Postscripts
The last time we heard about Karla Faye Tucker, she was being executed; now, almost four years later, there's a new novel about her. Or about someone very like her. And Beverly Lowry's classic Crossed Over, a memoir about getting to know Karla Faye Tucker, gets a reissue.

Clay Smith, Jan. 18, 2002

Not one day back from vacation and the growing list of noble souls who need to be congratulated is making Books Editor Clay Smith uneasy.

Clay Smith, Jan. 11, 2002


Texas Short Stories 2, Browder Springs Books, Billy Bob Hill, Laurie Champion, Don Graham, Tom Doyal

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