Best Book (2001)

John Graves and the Making of Goodbye to a River: Selected Letters, 1957-1960, edited by David Hamrick

Houston's upstart TaylorWilson Publishing may have been a flash in the pan, staying in business less than a year and producing only one book before bellying up to the auction block, but at least that one book was a beauty: a small keepsake edition limited to a run of 3,000 copies. The content is slim, comprising letters exchanged between Graves, his editors at Knopf, his illustrator, and then-dean of Texas letters, J. Frank Dobie. Of course Graves is now the acting dean of Texas letters, and the black-and-white photos of the author flyfishing his way down the Brazos in his Old Town canoe, plus exhaustive Graves bibliographies, and the elegant and thorough letters themselves, give a welcome glimpse into the work ethic of this most poorly emulated Texas writer. It may be that not many people ever get the glimpse -- given the small print run and the title's present state of publishing limbo -- but that rarity makes the book just that much more precious.


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