Splendor in the Short Grass: The Grover Lewis Reader

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"Dave Hickey gets it exactly right in his preface to this collection of journalism, poetry, fiction and memoir: Lewis, who died in 1997, was indeed 'the most stone wonderful writer that nobody ever heard of.' Writing for Rolling Stone in the early '70s, he almost singlehandedly invented the movie set piece, and no one's ever improved on his flint-eyed profiles of Sam Peckinpah and the Allman Brothers. But the best piece here is his searing memoir of his white-trash Texas parents, who died in what was ruled a ...

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Overview

"Dave Hickey gets it exactly right in his preface to this collection of journalism, poetry, fiction and memoir: Lewis, who died in 1997, was indeed 'the most stone wonderful writer that nobody ever heard of.' Writing for Rolling Stone in the early '70s, he almost singlehandedly invented the movie set piece, and no one's ever improved on his flint-eyed profiles of Sam Peckinpah and the Allman Brothers. But the best piece here is his searing memoir of his white-trash Texas parents, who died in what was ruled a double suicide. Etched in acid and heart's blood, it is a terse masterpiece."

—Malcolm Jones, Newsweek

"The least known of the New Journalism's founding fathers, Grover Lewis has long been a legend among nonfiction writers, and this overdue collection shows us why. A beautiful stylist blessed with a blistering honesty, Grover saw it all and wrote it like nobody else could. Put Splendor in the Short Grass up on the shelf with the best of Tom Wolfe, Hunter Thompson and Gay Talese. It belongs there."

—Kenneth Turan, film critic for the Los Angeles Times and National Public Radio's Morning Edition

"Grover Lewis, the most literary of journalists, did things his way, simultaneously inventing a genre and setting the standard. These days ambitious feature writers, whether they know it or not, all strive to do it Grover's way. But, as this long overdue collection shows, not only did Grover do it first, he did it best."

—Tim Cahill, author of Lost in My OwnBackyard and Hold the Enlightenment

"Grover Lewis was a gift to American letters. He had a hard eye, a sharp eye for hidden reality, and the unique ability to raise a popular journalism piece to the level of a universal truth. Plus he wrote like an angel. This collection, Splendor in the Short Grass, is not just a terrific read, it's an important work. I loved every page of it."

—James Crumley, author of the hardboiled mysteries Dancing Bear, The Last Good Kiss, and The Final Country

"Your gonzo journalism library isn't complete without him."

Ruminator

"Grover was, after all, the most stone wonderful writer that nobody ever heard of....His job was to hammer the detritus of fugitive cultural encounters into elegant sentences, lapidary paragraphs, and knowable truth; and, in truth, the loveliness and lucidity of Grover's writing always rose to the triviality of the occasion."

—Dave Hickey, from the foreword

Grover Lewis was one of the defining voices of the New Journalism of the 1960s and 1970s. His wry, acutely observed, fluently written essays for Rolling Stone and the Village Voice set a standard for other writers of the time, including Hunter S. Thompson, Joe Eszterhas, Timothy Ferris, Chet Flippo, and Tim Cahill, who said of Lewis, "He was the best of us." Pioneering the "on location" reportage that has become a fixture of features about moviemaking and live music, Lewis cut through the celebrity hype and captured the real spirit of the counterculture, including its artificiality and surprising banality. Even today, his articles on Woody Guthrie, the Allman Brothers, the Rolling Stones concert at Altamont, directors Sam Peckinpah and John Huston, and the filming of The Last Picture Show and One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest remain some of the finest writing ever done on popular culture.

To introduce Grover Lewis to a new generation of readers and collect his best work under one cover, this anthology contains articles he wrote for Rolling Stone, Village Voice, Playboy, Texas Monthly, and New West, as well as excerpts from his unfinished novel The Code of the West and his incomplete memoir Goodbye If You Call That Gone and poems from the volume I'll Be There in the Morning If I Live. Jan Reid and W. K. Stratton have selected and arranged the material around themes that preoccupied Lewis throughout his life—movies, music, and loss. The editors' biographical introduction, the foreword by Dave Hickey, and a remembrance by Robert Draper discuss how Lewis's early struggles to escape his working-class, anti-intellectual Texas roots for the world of ideas in books and movies made him a natural proponent of the counterculture that he chronicled so brilliantly. They also pay tribute to Lewis's groundbreaking talent as a stylist, whose unique voice deserves to be more widely known by today's readers.

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Editorial Reviews

Newsweek
Dave Hickey gets it exactly right in his preface to this collection of journalism, poetry, fiction and memoir: Lewis, who died in 1997, was indeed 'the most stone wonderful writer that nobody ever heard of.' Writing for Rolling Stone in the early '70s, he almost singlehandedly invented the movie set piece, and no one's ever improved on his flint-eyed profiles of Sam Peckinpah and the Allman Brothers. But the best piece here is his searing memoir of his white-trash Texas parents, who died in what was ruled a double suicide. Etched in acid and heart's blood, it is a terse masterpiece.
— Malcolm Jones
Ruminator
Your gonzo journalism library isn't complete without him.
Newsweek - Malcolm Jones
Dave Hickey gets it exactly right in his preface to this collection of journalism, poetry, fiction and memoir: Lewis, who died in 1997, was indeed 'the most stone wonderful writer that nobody ever heard of.' Writing for Rolling Stone in the early '70s, he almost singlehandedly invented the movie set piece, and no one's ever improved on his flint-eyed profiles of Sam Peckinpah and the Allman Brothers. But the best piece here is his searing memoir of his white-trash Texas parents, who died in what was ruled a double suicide. Etched in acid and heart's blood, it is a terse masterpiece.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780292705593
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2005
  • Pages: 291
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

JAN REID, like Grover Lewis, is a magazine writer, who has written for Texas Monthly, GQ, Esquire, New York Times magazine, Men’s Journal, and Slate. His books include The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock, The Bullet Meant for Me, and Rio Grande. He lives in Austin, Texas.

W. K. “KIP” STRATTON has written for Sports Illustrated, GQ, Outside, Southern magazine, Americana, and D: The Magazine of Dallas. His previous book is Backyard Brawl: Inside the Blood Feud between Texas and Texas A&M. Harcourt will publish his next book, Chasing the Rodeo, in 2005. He lives near Austin, Texas.

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Table of Contents

Foreword : magazine writer
Star-crossed : a biographical sketch of Grover Lewis 1
Splendor in the short grass : the making of The last picture show 13
Sam Peckinpah in Mexico : overlearning with El Jefe 45
Up in Fat city : on the set with Keach and Huston 71
One step over the fucked-up line with Robert Mitchum 77
Who's the bull goose loony here? 109
Excerpt from The code of the West (unfinished novel) 127
Cowboy movie in black and white (poem) 147
Old movies in my mind 149
Dirge for a bird 159
The hard traveling of Woody Guthrie 163
Looking for lightnin' 183
Hitting the note with the Allman Brothers Band 195
Stones concert 209
The wreckage children (poem) 217
Goodbye if you call that gone 229
The legacy of Huckleberry Finn 237
Cracker Eden : Oak Cliff - a report, a memoir 247
Hillbilly song (poem) 267
A cracker's farewell : a remembrance 271
Thanks for the use of the hall (poem) 277
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