Picture of author.
18+ Works 267 Membros 4 Reviews

About the Author

Don Graham is J. Frank Dobie Regents Professor of American and English Literature at the University of Texas at Austin, where he teaches the famous course Life and Literature of the Southwest. Graham has written extensively on Southwestern American literature, film, and history. His books include mostrar mais Cowboys and Cadillacs: How Hollywood Looks at Texas, No Name on the Bullet: A Biography of Audie Murphy, Kings of Texas: The 150-Year Saga of an American Ranching Empire, and State Fare: An Irreverent Guide to Texas Movies. Graham is also a past president of the Texas Institute of Letters and a writer-at-large for Texas Monthly. mostrar menos
Image credit: Photographed at BookPeople in Austin, Texas by Frank Arnold

Obras de Don Graham

Associated Works

The Gay Place (1961) — Introdução, algumas edições150 cópias
MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History — Spring 1993 (1993) — Author "The Hero in Hollywood" — 12 cópias


Conhecimento Comum

Data de nascimento



To be perfectly honest, I will read almost anything about Austin, no matter how narcissistic or self-serving (and, even more honestly, the more it flatters the city and its residents the better). All true love of home is provincialism and vice versa, and though I wasn't born here and have spent quite a few years living elsewhere, it's going to be my home for many years to come simply because I couldn't imagine myself living anywhere else.

However, any city, no matter how proud and disdainful of outsiders, like to think of itself as civilized, and part of that means having a stable of respectable authors you can show off to your neighbors. To that end, Don Graham has put together an extremely useful collection of "Austin literature", both pieces about the city and pieces written by people who simply happened to live here. I once read a line to the effect that New York City was the only city you could write about and not sound limited or small-town. Whether that's true of all cities or not, this collection won't do anything to disprove that sentiment, because many of the pieces here are focused on things that only an Austinite would truly care about. This is either myopic navel-gazing or a sincere effort to cater to the local spirit (or both), but I think an outsider could actually appreciate the literary merits of some of these pieces without being too sickened by the constant torrents of self-love on display here. But, as the saying goes, if you don't like Austin, then Dallas is right up the road, and happy trails to you.

The book is organized chronologically into sections that detail increasingly narrow slices of time. The first section sums up Austin's dismal irrelevance in the 19th century in a swift four pieces, including one by literary hero / convicted felon O'Henry, the man who gave us the infamous "city of the violet crown" title. The next section leaps up to the 1940s and includes a quick piece about Barton Springs by Senator Ralph Yarbrough and an excerpt from Lyndon Johnson's excellent "tarnish on the violet crown" speech, one of my personal favorites of his. As Robert Caro's excellent LBJ biography details, Austin was the first city in the country to have public housing, and though the Dixiecrat-mandated segregation of those units entrenched an unfortunate situation of racial separation in the city, this small step towards alleviating poverty was an important step on the road to the Great Society.

The section of the 50s is subtitled "This True Paradise On Earth", and it marks what I think is the final period before Austin became a "real" city. Names like Faulk, Dobie, Bedichek, and Webb are prominent, as around their nucleus the first true Austin literary culture coalesces. Ann Richards contributes a funny story about the beginnings of her interest in politics, and David Richards (no relation?) has an insightful bit about Scholz Beer Garden, which has just the odd historical amnesia he describes. The 60s section is understandably dominated by UT-related content like the Whitman shooting, but there are plenty of good ones about other subjects, like Miguel Gonzales-Garth's pieces about Argentine literary badass Jorge Luis Borges, an excerpt from Billy Lee Brammer's superb political novel The Gay Place, and good snippets from novelist Larry McMurtry and historian Harry Ransom. Speaking of McMurtry, I wish his classic essay/complaint "Ever a Bridegroom" about the sorry state of Texas literature had been mentioned here, as it bears directly on the book's reason for being, but the Texas Observer recently reprinted it so you should check it out there.

The 70s section gets into material more familiar to modern Austinites. Pat Taylor's memories of hippie water ceremonies are both amusing and touching, Jan Reid's chapter from "The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock" is still relevant for as long as Willie Nelson is, and Michael Adams' "Crossroads at the Broken Spoke" is both a wonderfully evocative work of character description and an excellent homage to the famous honky-tonk joint that's still bravely enduring the lightning-speed transformation of South Lamar near where I grew up. The 80s is when my own history with Austin begins, and I particularly enjoyed Joseph Jones' piece on enjoying Waller Creek (currently a rivulet of filth sullenly oblivious to the city's periodic and desultory plans to rehabilitate it), Molly Ivins' hilarious account of Ann Richards' election as governor, and Marion Wink's poem about the summer heat, which has only gotten more brutal:

"Insects ruled the earth.
They commandeered the food supply
and would not let us sleep.
Willing slaves, we did nothing without orders.
Only showers came from the heart."

The final and longest section covers from the 90s to 2006, the period where Austin added a quarter million people and abandoned any pretense of being a small, undiscovered oasis. Two of these pieces sum up this era the best to me. First, Robert Draper's affectionate yet firm farewell "Adios to Austin" is a thoughtful meditation on why he felt that he and the city had to part ways (though, weirdly, he now seems to live in Asheville, NC of all places). I don't agree with his sentiments, but it's a useful perspective. Second, William J. Scheick's "Gridlock" is perhaps the ultimate example of a piece that only an Austinite could love; outsiders hate our traffic, but his hilarious experiences trying to find a "secret path" across our nightmarishly overcrowded downtown will bring instant pangs of pained recognition from anyone who's ever had to put up with the consequences of our city government's stubborn refusal to acknowledge our inexorable growth.

Different people will have different opinions on the strength of the works collected here, but overall this is a great compendium of talent, and while it's been a while since Billy Lee Brammer made the last serious attempt at crafting a "Great Austin Novel", there's plenty of local talent here, and even more affection for this city that manages to retain its charm and magnetism after all these years.
… (mais)
aaronarnold | May 11, 2021 |
A fantastic and well researched look at the making of the 1956 film Giant. The book is essentially a biography of the film from information on Edna Ferber and her successful book Giant and then George Stevens work on the script, casting, filming, etc. Points where the film differed from the book were pointed out and Stevens improvements were well done. It was interesting reading about the location shooting in Marfa, Texas and how the stars interacted (or not) with the locals. I had no idea James Dean was such a pain to work with and wonder what his future would have been if he had not been killed. I did find it interesting though that the author felt that of the three stars (Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, and James Dean) that Dean is the only one remembered today. On the 50th anniversary of Dean's death we had a luncheon at work and I had put up events in history on that date (September 30) and most of the people under 40 had no idea who James Dean was. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the film Giant, director George Stevens or actor James Dean.… (mais)
knahs | outras 2 resenhas | Oct 30, 2019 |
For more reviews and bookish posts please visit: http://www.ManOfLaBook.com

Giant: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Edna Ferber, and the Making of a Legendary American Film by Don Graham is a non-fiction book detailing of the making of this landmark 1956 film. Mr. Graham is a Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin.

It is important to note that the author of this book is an expert on all things Texas including its culture, literature and history. The movie which is written about is the on screen representation of a book which tried to criticize Texas and what is stands for. Knowing all this, the reading of Giant: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Edna Ferber, and the Making of a Legendary American Film by Don Graham makes it even more fascinating than just a history of a historic motion picture.

Mr. Graham wrote a fascination window into the America of the 1950s, with all the rot and glamour of Hollywood at a time when America was starting to look in the mirror and many didn’t like what they saw. The background of the author, actors, director and crew are all vivid and intelligently written, even the bad jokes by studio’s head are included for context.

This is not just a “making of” book, a piece of fluff Hollywood marketing, but an honest look at the difficulties and sacrifices many people make to make this vision come to life (or the theater). Liz Taylor, who was trying establish herself as a serious adult actress, was going through a divorce, James Dean was dealing with lifelong issues, Rock Hudson’s acting and more. The book also sets up the sexual abuse actors, both male and female, had to deal with which was part of the culture and the job.

The novel written by Edna Ferber in 1952 was a platform used to criticize the racial intolerance in the United States generally, and Texas specifically. The movie, shot on location in Marfa, TX was at first viewed in negative connotation, but as the filming progressed the Texas natives, many who benefited from the production, as well as fans who were welcomed to the open set changed their minds.

This book, chronologically chronicling the filming of the movie, presents many anecdotes on the set, including from residents who were around to watch the movie being filmed. Those anecdotes, of the actors, crew and witnesses is the strength of this book, which is easy to follow and an enjoyable read.
… (mais)
ZoharLaor | outras 2 resenhas | Mar 24, 2018 |

You May Also Like

Associated Authors

Larry McMurtry Foreword, Contributor
James Crumley Contributor
Pat Ellis Taylor Contributor
Doug Crowell Contributor
Carolyn Osborn Contributor
Mary Gray Hughes Contributor
Amado Muro Contributor
Harryette Mullen Contributor
Thomas Zigal Contributor
Peter LaSalle Contributor
Hughes Rudd Contributor
Vassar Miller Contributor
R. E. Smith Contributor
Paul Horgan Contributor
Naomi Shihab Nye Contributor
Bill Brett Contributor
A. C. Greene Contributor
William A. Owens Contributor
William Humphrey Contributor
William Goyen Contributor
William Harrison Contributor
Dave Hickey Contributor
Robert Flynn Contributor


Also by
½ 3.7

Tabelas & Gráficos