Texas Literary Outlaws: Six Writers in the Sixties and beyond

By Steven L. Davis | Go to book overview

16.
HARPER’S
ON THE
RISE

Larry L. King slid into a depression after The One-Eyed Man, partly because of “them old post-creative blues” but mostly because the novel had not brought him the wealth and fame he’d hoped for. NAL had already signed him to a second novel for a $22,000 advance, yet King was making little progress. He began a book about a television evangelist called The God Business, but it was soon abandoned. Two subsequent novels met similar fates. King wrote later that his disappointment with his first novel “probably had a great deal to do with being unable to write a second.”1

While his fiction was floundering, King’s magazine journalism was taking off. King’s articles for Harper’s were outstanding, brimming with humor and insight. His version of New Journalism openly acknowledged the inherent tension between reporter and subject, and King’s directness created controversy. His provocative profile of William F. Buckley, “the aging enfant terrible of rightward-listing politics,” caused Buckley to comment, “Larry King has serious deficiencies as a gentleman.” But the rewards for readers were immense.2 In Willie Morris’s estimation, King was “writing wonderfully uproarious and poignant pieces for Harper’s, blends of H. L. Mencken and Mark Twain and his fellow Texan, one William Cowper Brann, the Iconoclast.” Morris saw that, “even at his most cutting, [King’s] writ-

-183-

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Texas Literary Outlaws: Six Writers in the Sixties and beyond
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Texas Literary Outlaws 1
  • Part One - Coming of Age in Texas 7
  • 1 - A Rebel in West Texas 9
  • 2 - A Texas Oasis 25
  • 3 - The Gay Place 39
  • 4 - Fort Worth’s New Journalism 55
  • 5 - The Texas Beats 72
  • 6 - Big D Meets the Flying Punzars 84
  • 7 - A Gathering Force 96
  • 8 - A Long Way from Beaumont 109
  • 9 - Dallas, 1963 118
  • Part Two - Too Much Ain’t Enough 127
  • 10 - A New Beginning 129
  • 11 - The Doors of Perception 140
  • 12 - Literary Comanches 152
  • 13 - These Happy Occasions 157
  • 14 - The One-Eyed Man 166
  • 15 - Cowboys and Indians 172
  • 16 - Harper’s on the Rise 183
  • 17 - Obscure Famous Arthurs 188
  • 18 - Absurdism in the Southwest 198
  • 19 - Busted in the Oasis 207
  • 20 - Harvard’s "White Racist" 215
  • 21 - Land of the Permanent Wave 220
  • 22 - Mad Dog, Texas 228
  • 23 - King’s Road 239
  • 24 - Outlaws 250
  • 25 - Hack Observations and Literary Feuds 259
  • 26 - Redneck Hippies 268
  • 27 - Strange Peaches 275
  • 28 - Semi-Tough 281
  • Part Three - Texas… Chic? 287
  • 29 - A New View of Texas 289
  • 30 - The Cowboy Professor 294
  • 31 - Live Music Capital 298
  • 32 - North Dallas Forty 302
  • 33 - The Regenerator Erection Laboratory 309
  • 34 - Challenging Texas 315
  • 35 - Changes at Sports Illustrated 320
  • 36 - Texas’s Gonzo Journalist 325
  • 37 - Texas Brain Fry 334
  • 38 - LBJ, Speed, and Paranoia 341
  • 39 - Hollywood vs. Sports Illustrated 349
  • 40 - Whorehouse 355
  • 41 - A Fraction of His Talent 362
  • 42 - Measures of Success 367
  • 43 - Hitting the Wall 374
  • 44 - A Recovery 381
  • 45 - "Ever a Bridegroom" 385
  • 46 - Third Coast 394
  • 47 - Faces in the Fire 397
  • Part Four - How Time Slips Away 401
  • 48 - Jenkins 403
  • 49 - King 417
  • 50 - Cartwright 433
  • 51 - Shrake 441
  • 52 - "Doing Indefinable Services to Mankind" 451
  • Notes 460
  • Bibliography 492
  • Index 502
  • About the Author 512
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