"[Dobie] was well known as a University of Texas professor before he was forced out in 1947 for his political views."
Steven L. Davis’s biography of J. Frank Dobie: A Liberated Mind was published ten years ago this fall. Now Davis, literary curator of the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University, has produced a selective treasury of Dobie’s writing, The Essential J. Frank Dobie (Texas A&M University Press, $28 hardcover).
Davis said, while working on the biography, “I’d often come across passages of his that struck me as really fine writing. I began to save some of these and share them with family and friends.” Eventually that led to this new collection touting one of Texas’s most beloved, but also controversial, native writers and folklorists. Some of the pieces are from Dobie’s published books, while others have never been published in book form before.
Most of the forty-plus pieces are very short, grouped in nine sections ranging from “Coyote Wisdom” and “Wild and Free” to “Europe Amid Two World Wars” to “Texas Needs Brains” and “Life and Literature of the Southwest,” the course for which he was well known as a University of Texas professor before he was forced out in 1947 for his political views.
“Dobie helped rescue the Longhorn and bighorn sheep from extinction in Texas,” writes Davis, and “helped inspire Big Bend National Park and Padre Island National Seashore.” During and after World War II, he wrote about the war in Europe and its aftermath, then “came back to Texas to take on governors, senators, university regents–anyone who was an enemy to intellectual freedom or denied equal opportunities to others.”
Though Dobie died in 1964 at age seventy-five, his writing lives on through the books he published and now through The Essential J. Frank Dobie, which launches the new Wittliff Collection Literary Series for Texas A&M Press.
How did Austin become weird? You only have to look at the subtitle of Joe Nick Patoski’s modern history of Austin to ATX to get the flavor of the book: “The Hippies, Pickers, Slackers & Geeks Who Transformed the Capital of Texas.”
Patoski is one of Texas’s most colorful and prolific storytellers, author of acclaimed books on Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Selena, the Dallas Cowboys, high school football, Big Bend, Texas mountains, and the Texas coast.
In Austin to ATX (Texas A&M University Press, $32 hardcover), Patoski weaves tales dealing with the home of the Armadillo, Austin City Limits, Whole Foods Market, South by Southwest, Keeping Austin Weird, On the Road Again with Willie, and much more. Patoski, a thorough researcher and lively chronicler, makes Austin’s story come alive through the voices of those who have witnessed its transformation firsthand.