Texas Literary Outlaws: Six Writers in the Sixties and beyond

By Steven L. Davis | Go to book overview

51.
SHRAKE

Bud Shrake hit the wall at fifty-two in 1984 after being diagnosed with diabetes and liver damage. A doctor gave him a year to live unless he quit drinking and doping. “Even then,” Shrake admitted, “I actually had to think about it. I thought I needed the speed for energy and the whiskey for dreaming. Now I realize that’s what a good night’s sleep is for.” Like his friends, Shrake discovered that sobriety made him even more productive. “In a way I wish I’d changed sooner,” he said. “But on the other hand, maybe I wouldn’t have been ready for it sooner. … I think I had to hit the wall pretty hard to make me change.”1

Shrake’s health crisis coincided with the Austin premiere of his stage play, Pancho Villa’s Wedding Day, adapted from his unproduced screenplay. While not without flaws, the play received generally positive notices. Yet once again the Texas Observer offered a contrasting view, issuing yet another fierce attack on Shrake’s work. Observer critic Ray Reece, writing a month after the play ended its run, speculated that Shrake’s intention was to win “himself a bit of unearned grandeur by riding the myth of Pancho Villa across the willing minds of a friendly, hometown theatre audience.” But Shrake’s sleazy ego trip failed, Reece contended, because of “the play’s insipidness.” Shrake was angered by the review, but the attack was not entirely unexpected, coming from the Observer. What really upset him was the

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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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