Novel Approaches to Houston

NOVEL APPROACHES TO HOUSTON Downtown HoustonNoting the “daily clash” of old and new, local and immigrant, and very rich and very poor around these parts, “the tawdriness of those who control the city’s worst quarters,” and the density of terrific raw material for stories, Mimi Swartz wonders — as she considers 3 new novels set in the Bayou Citywhy Houston hasn’t served as the setting of more great fiction: “Anyone from Charles Dickens to Edith Wharton to Tom Wolfe would have or should have killed for the chance to take Houston on. And yet, so far, few have stepped up. The hands-down best novelist on Houston is Larry McMurtry; the best of his books set here — Moving On, All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers, Terms of Endearment, and The Evening Star — evoke the place with affection and authority. But McMurtry’s last Houston book came out in 1992.” Worth mentioning since then: short stories by Antonya Nelson; a few scenes in Justin Cronin’s vampire trilogy, The Passage; Alicia Erian’s novel Towelhead; and thrillers by Attica Locke. Still, she notes, “with Houston, every writer is pretty much starting from scratch.” [Texas Monthly] Photo: faungg [license]

5 Comment

  • Maybe we can convince Pynchon to take a crack at it?

  • David Lindsey has a series of crime novels based in Houston. Mercy is perhaps the best well known of them.

  • The problem is that Houston is in a constant state of flux. The Houston you know at 20 is unrecognizable at 50, no matter what year you were born. There is no classically recognizable Houston or Houstonian. The only thing most Houstonians share as a character trait is a mutual lack of interest in the past. When I wrote a novella about Houston, I made it ground zero of a global amnesia plague. Seemed appropriate.

  • I echo what AMP said. That’s what happens when a city tries to reinvent itself so frequently. At every step along the way, it has lost whatever essence made it uniquely Houston: quirky landmarks, attractions, old inner-loop neighborhoods, historic buildings, longtime businesses and restaurants, the Katy prairie, etc. About the only thing that hasn’t changed in my 37 years here is the House of Pies. Thank God for that little haven of stability, or else I’d be completely adrift in this concrete jungle.

  • That Houston is always in a state flux is a good thing, correct? ‘Change is good’ I’m always hearing. Anything that does not change is dead and slowly being fossilized.