Monday, February 18, 2008

El Oeste de Tejas

from Frank @ the Artshouston blog:

How (and when) did your collaboration with Kent begin?

Back in 1999 Kent had a reading of his novel Plainsong at Brazos Bookstore here in Houston. I’d read the book and thought it was one of the best things I’d seen on the High Plains, the country that I’d been photographing for over twenty years. I also thought that his writing transcended regionalism – that Plainsong simply was one of the best novels I’d read period, and that the man who wrote it and I seemed to have a similar take, not only on the High Plains, but also generally on life. He seemed a kindred spirit of sorts.


There was a lot of time standing around, and it quickly became clear that we had much in common. Both of our fathers were ministers: Kent’s Methodist, mine Presbyterian. We had similar tastes in literature, politics and humor and oddest of all, we were dressed almost identically – down to the same boots.


Kent sent Duke a writing sample and I sent photos – we drew up a proposal and got to work. And we decided to proceed whether or not we got the award. So I shipped him up work that I had done recently on the Llano Estacado of Texas (Kent lives in Salida, Colorado). And Kent sent me small bits of writing, pieces that were evocative of the Plains - the place, its history, human relations, weather, current issues, overheard remarks — wonderful and multidimensional bits of writing that often were very visual.

I read a review of the book that says: “West of Last Chance is a book for people who are in on the secret of the Great Plains.” What’s the secret?

There is a wonderful secret. And one of the reasons I wanted to publish this book and my earlier book On the Plains, was to share that secret. It is a resonant place. The mantra for West of Last Chance is the following;

“You have to know how to look at this country. You have to slow down.
It isn’t pretty, but it’s beautiful.”


There is a quiet beauty, a scale of space that exists nowhere else, a set of colors and a quality of light that I have come to love and a subtlety that merges with grand space in a way that for me is intoxicating. I love being out there. I love those struggling, tenacious little towns. I’ve come to have great respect and affection for the people I’ve come to know – and it’s a nice thing to share.

Them kids'll be out offering a reading at Harris Gallery this Tuesday (2/19) from 5-7 pm
and then also at Brazos Bookstore on Thursday (2/21), 7 pm