David Sinclair

At the age of 47, Don Snyder kneels at the grave of his mother. A line of geese crosses the sky. He is embarrassed to speak out loud, but he does. I don't know where you are, Peggy. Of Time and Memory is a unique book, a biography of a mother written by a son who never knew her. Peggy Snyder died when Don and his twin brother were 16 days old, and the tragedy so affected their father Dick that he locked the memory of Peggy away. He remarried, worked until retirement, and now has developed a brain tumor. This pending loss makes his son Don begin to ask questions about his mother, questions that result in this book.

Dick Snyder returned from World War II and began work as a printing press operator. He saw a picture of Peggy on the desk of her father, who worked beside him. He fell in love with the picture, and then with the girl. Peggy was only 18, a recent high school graduate who dreamed of moving to New York. But Dick won her heart, and then her hand in marriage. Ten months later she gave birth to twin sons. Sixteen days afterwards, she died.

In Of Time and Memory, Don Snyder tells his own story, as well as the love story of his parents, a love story that outlives them. He calls it an unremembered love story, true in every aspect, preserved behind the heavy door that was closed against the terrible sadness of its end.

Peggy gave birth to twin sons and then died from a condition known as preeclampsia. Her parents, her sister, and his father blamed her doctor for her untimely death. By researching and writing this book, the author discovers the truth: that Peggy's doctor told her of her dangerous condition at the beginning of her pregnancy and warned her that the only treatment for the condition was to take the fetuses no later than the end of her second trimester, before she became too sick to recover.

Peggy made the decision to carry her sons to term, giving them life while sacrificing her own. Of Time and Memory becomes more than the love story of the author's parents. Though he never knew her, Don Snyder finds that he loves Peggy too.

David Sinclair is a former English Literature teacher.

At the age of 47, Don Snyder kneels at the grave of his mother. A line of geese crosses the sky. He is embarrassed to speak out loud, but he does. I don't know where you are, Peggy. Of Time and Memory is a unique book, a biography of a mother written by a son […]

Fifty miles southwest of Houston, along what is now Highway 59, lies the coastal plains town of Wharton, Texas. One of its renowned residents lives today in the house his family first occupied when he was one year old. He is Horton Foote, Academy Award-winning screenwriter, playwright, and author. Farewell: A Memoir of a Texas Childhood is his latest work, a memoir of his south Texas childhood, covering the years 1916 through 1933.

Horton Foote, Jr. grew up surrounded by two large extended families, with two sets of grandparents and countless uncles, aunts, and cousins. Farewell, told through a series of anecdotes, tells of his education in the public schools, his talent for dramatic acting and academics, and his large family's reach throughout the community. Foote sits at the feet of maiden aunts and drunken uncles to hear them recount times starting during the Civil War and continuing through to the Depression. His two uncles keep the family worried about their constant drinking and gambling. Foote's father struggles to support his family as a shopkeeper. Throughout Foote's childhood, family is the center of his life, as it is the center of Wharton.

The author presents scenes of the segregated South in the first half of the century, with stories of KKK meetings and a rural lynching. Black professionals of the town are lauded for their meek and polite manners, and are called a credit to their race. Foote recounts a time when black and white children routinely played together until school age, when segregation forced them apart. The everyday poverty of the cotton farmers and small shopkeepers serves as backdrop for Foote's discussions of the Roosevelt era and the Democratic party so fervently supported by his father.

Foote graduates with honors from Wharton High School in 1932, eager to go off to New York to study acting and make his career on the stage. But his family's poverty short circuits that dream, and he settles for the Pasadena Playhouse in California.

Foote's writing is superb, clear, concise, and straightforward, as befits a son of Depression-era Texans. His presentation is almost journalistic in tone, never succumbing to emotion or pity when describing his family and his childhood. Known as the Chekov of the small town, Foote has always chosen home, family, and ordinary men for his subjects. In Farewell he does so again.

David Sinclair is a former English Literature teacher and reviewer in Wichita Falls, Texas.

Fifty miles southwest of Houston, along what is now Highway 59, lies the coastal plains town of Wharton, Texas. One of its renowned residents lives today in the house his family first occupied when he was one year old. He is Horton Foote, Academy Award-winning screenwriter, playwright, and author. Farewell: A Memoir of a Texas […]

Larry McMurtry's newest novel, Duane's Depressed, concludes the story begun with The Last Picture Show and continued through Texasville. In this final installment, Duane Moore is 62 and strangely uncomfortable with life, Sonny Crawford is dying, and Jacy Farrow is five years dead, the victim of an Alaskan plane crash.

As the book opens, Duane parks his pickup under the carport, hides the keys in a chipped coffee mug, and begins to walk everywhere he goes. His family and neighbors immediately assume that he's either crazy or depressed. Karla, his wife of 40 years, suspects another woman may be involved in this sudden and unexpected change of lifestyle. She grows more concerned when Duane exhibits a distinct preference for living by himself in an old shack on some acreage outside of town.

Duane develops an overwhelming desire to simplify his life, to stop wading through clutter, to be beyond questions, speculations, marriage, business, all of it. He walks away from the life he has led to see what he can find.

Duane admires an orderly display of tools at a local store, seeing in it a counterpoint to his own cluttered carport, and, indeed, his over-complicated life. The tool display was built by the shopkeeper's daughter, Dr. Honor Carmichael, a psychiatrist in a larger nearby city. Duane begins to see the doctor, and she becomes the vehicle for his growth. Duane pares his life down to essentials. He gardens, walks, and, at the suggestion of Dr. Carmichael, reads Proust's Remembrance of Things Past for a few hours each day. When he finishes the three volumes, he is not sure that he understands the novel. His final visits with Dr. Carmichael reveal her reasons for insisting that he read Proust, as well as her initial diagnosis of the feelings that led him to park his truck and start walking.

As always, McMurtry is excellent with the interplay between men and women. Duane's Depressed is a book in tune not only with the others in this trilogy, but also with Leaving Cheyenne, Terms of Endearment, and Lonesome Dove. Honor Carmichael joins a long line of wonderful McMurtry women.

This final chapter in what McMurtry privately calls the Archer City trilogy proves him to be a mature and reflective artist, at peace with both his characters and himself.

David Sinclair is a former English Literature teacher and reviewer in Wichita Falls, Texas.

Larry McMurtry's newest novel, Duane's Depressed, concludes the story begun with The Last Picture Show and continued through Texasville. In this final installment, Duane Moore is 62 and strangely uncomfortable with life, Sonny Crawford is dying, and Jacy Farrow is five years dead, the victim of an Alaskan plane crash. As the book opens, Duane […]

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