Featuring more than 30 Texas writers, this collection of essays, fiction, and poetry discusses environmental degradation from the panhandle to the gulf, and from the Piney Woods to Big Bend.
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The Texas landscape, famous both for its mythic extent and the epic scale on which it has been despoiled, is the subject of this appealing but uneven protest anthology of environmentalist writings by associates of the Texas Institute of Letters. While the collection includes poetry and stories, it is dominated by short, sometimes perfunctory, essays. These include diatribes against the corrupt collusion between state environmental officials and developers, impressionistic surveys of ravaged oilfields and many pieces bemoaning the engulfment of pristine vistas and quaint old towns by polluted, sterile megalopolises. The best pieces, like Peter A.Y. Gunter's elegiac retrospective on his family's farm, evoke the land's vanished abundance. Sometimes, though, the contributors' exaltation of open space (Steven G. Kellman contends that "everyone needs an unpaved acre or two to think," while Bass, from his wilderness home in Montana, insists that "to know a deeper peace, I required the experience of tens or even hundreds of thousands of acres") nears a knee-jerk anti-urbanism; the writers never reflect that their longing to escape the city and live close to nature is what drives the leading edge of the exurban sprawl they deplore. The result is a mix of the mournful, the angry, the hopeful—sharp glimpses into personal feelings, but few clear insights into environmental issues. (Jan.)
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