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elmer kelton: essays and memoriesElmer Kelton: Essays and Memories

by Judy Alter & James Ward Lee


144 pages, 6 x 9 • Paper $19.95
ISBN 978-0-87565-426-3


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When Elmer Kelton died in the fall of 2009, the literary world lost a consummate writer, a man the New York Times called a “novelist who brought the sensibility of the old-style western to bear on a modern Texas landscape of oil fields and financially troubled ranches.” Kelton was also a modest, kind man, always willing to advise a struggling writer or write a blurb for a first time published author, or assign publishing rights to his six masterpieces to a small university press.

 

TCU Press owes a great debt of gratitude to Kelton, and this volume, Elmer Kelton: Memories and Essays, attempts to explore just what it is that made Kelton its leading author.

 

Editors Judy Alter and James Ward Lee gathered together a group of Kelton aficionados who had either published or taught or sold his books, or were simply friends. In several meetings, they divided up the main themes of Kelton’s writing: Alter provides the overview of Kelton’s career; Felton Cochran, longtime owner of Cactus Books in San Angelo, describes how the friendship between bookstore owner and author grew over the years; Ricky Burk, pastor of the church from which Kelton was buried, talks about the man’s influence in his community; Kelton’s son, Steve, explains how Kelton’s career as journalist permeated his novels; Ruth McAdams, who has taught Kelton for years, explores how he deals with the themes of endurance and change; Joyce Roach delicately covers how race and ethnicity figure in Kelton’s plots and the development of his unforgettable characters; Lee gives readers his inimitable take on the Hewey Calloway Trilogy—The Good Old BoysThe Smiling Country, and Six Bits a Day; and Bob J. Frye takes a wry look at Kelton’s use of humor throughout his career. The book also contains Kelton’s own view of the history of the Western novel, a response to revisionist criticism. And finally Cochran provides us a list of most, not all, of Elmer Kelton’s extraordinary body of work.