Southwestern American Literature is a biannual scholarly journal that includes literary criticism, fiction, poetry, and book reviews concerning the Greater Southwest.
Since its inception in 1971, the journal has published premier works by and about some of the most significant writers of the region.
Southwestern American Literature is indexed in The MLA International Bibliography, which can be found in most North American and European higher-education institutions, and Humanities International Complete, which can be found in libraries throughout North America.
© Center for the Study of the Southwest, Texas State University.
The Southwest is pretty tough to define. Do you include Oklahoma? East Texas? Southern California? Just about everyone has an idea of where the region begins and ends—but nobody can agree on what gets put in and what gets left out. I’ve always liked J. Frank Dobie’s idea that the Southwest can include “anything else north, south, east, or west that anybody wants to bring in.” The Southwest is eclectic and diverse. The landscape changes from grey to red, from flat to rocky, and from rural to urban. The people of the region include every race and background. The Southwest can never be precisely fenced in because it’s just too wild and vast.
This issue of Southwestern American Literature is just as varied as the Southwest. In “Borders and Boundaries of Religion and the Mind in Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing,” Susan Rojas argues the importance of the ex-priest in the second volume of The Border Trilogy. We also have an essay by D. Seth Horton about a new perspective of Mabel Dodge Luhan’s writings. Both of these articles will challenge you and, hopefully, make you want to reread some of those books.
The creative writing section of the journal is just as mixed and wide-ranging. Terry Dalrymple’s “Dead Dogs” is a powerful coming of age story that will stay with you long after you read it. The poetry in this issue includes some familiar names such as Larry Thomas and Jeffrey Alfier, but we also have some new works by Jill Hawkins, Kevin McCarthy, and Dorothy DiRienzi. All of these voices cover Texas and Oklahoma and the hot streets of Phoenix. Finally, we end this issue with reviews of the best books and films coming out of our region. These reviews cover authors such as Jim Sanderson, Nasario García, Karla K. Morton, Susan Cummins Miller, and Larry Thomas. We also cover the latest movies of Robert Duvall and Denis Villeneuve that deal with the borderlands.
I like to think that this issue has something for everyone, something for each voice from the Southwest. To help us demonstrate the various faces of the Southwest we plan on having more special issues in the near future. Next fall we will put out our special music issue that will showcase essays, fiction, reviews, and song lyrics all about the Southwest. Guest editor Allan Schaefer is already working hard on putting together this important addition.
As 2015 comes to a close, I’d like to mention the passing of Victor Holk. Victor was a graduate student who interned as an editorial assistant here at the Center for the Study of the Southwest in the spring. Besides earning his MA in philosophy, Victor was a talented singer-songwriter who was heavily involved with the local music scene. He could usually be found at the Cheatham Street Warehouse playing classic Merle Haggard songs. His own music was inspired by folk artists and the southwestern landscapes he loved. Just weeks after getting married, just weeks after graduating, Victor’s house caught on fire and he received burns over 90 percent of his body while rescuing his wife, a friend, and pets. Always a fighter, Victor held on for two months and suffered skin graphs and amputations before succumbing to his injuries. Victor loved the Southwest and was always eager to help us here when it came to putting the journals together and organizing events. Victor was one of the most friendly and gregarious people I have ever met. One time on a field trip, a bunch of us stopped in Luckenbach and Victor already knew several people there playing music. It was as if everywhere you went there was someone who knew Victor Holk. He was just that type of guy. After his passing, his family had his body cremated and scattered his ashes into the headwaters of the San Marcos River. Victor is now a part of the region that moved him, the region he loved. I’d like to dedicate this issue of Southwestern American Literature to his memory, so stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone—Victor, all of us miss you.