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Ennis man releases seventh book, will appear locally
Author, educator and Ennis native Dr. Mark Busby has a new book out; the 1963 EHS grad will also revisit his Ellis County stomping grounds in September when he lectures at the Waxahachie Chautauqua.
Co-edited with fellow academic Terrell Dixon, Busby’s biography “John Graves –– Writer” explores the work of the noted environmentalist whose seminal study “Goodbye to a River” made its mark on the naturalist community as well as literature on its release over 45 years ago. Published by the University of Texas Press, the book is Busby’s seventh.
Understanding the mind and motivations of Graves, now 86, is relevant to the present as well as the past, said Busby, director of the Southwest Regional Humanities Center at Texas State University at San Marcos.
“We have a national and international consensus on global warming with the U.N. concluding that humankind has had an effect,” said Busby. “I’ve seen our graduate students turning more environmental with an interest in following the Thoreauvean tradition, and Graves is one of the best to have done so.”
The 312-page book analyzes Graves’ contribution to naturalist theory and ethics but also to his prose mastery. Though best known in his home state –– Graves has been a longtime feature writer for Texas Monthly –– he has won wide recognition, including praise from the New York Times. Still, Busby said his subject deserves more credit.
“One of our purposes was that we wanted to get his name out there,” Busby said. “He’s the unofficial dean of Texas letters but too often seen as a regionalist outside the state, despite being a master stylist. Our best writers create a recognizable trait, like Faulkner or Hemingway. Graves definitely has that –– centered in a world of balance and complication. He doesn’t paint things in black and white; it’s more of a paradox.”
Busby pointed out that this year is a meaningful one for the release of his and Dixon’s study of Graves –– this fall marks the 50th anniversary of the Brazos River voyage that inspired the great naturalist’s classic “Goodbye to a River”.
In observance of Graves’ landmark book, Texas State University has chosen it as the core text for its 2007-08 “Common Experience,” an initiative facilitating discussion of world issues. The theme for this year’s program, in which Busby will take a leading part, is “The water planet: A river runs through us.”
Closer to home for Ennis Daily News readers, Busby will be speaking on Graves’ impact on Texas literature at the Chautauqua conference in Waxahachie on Sept. 29.
His presentation will also examine the works of West Texas poet Walter McDonald and novelist Dorothy Scarborough, whose “The Wind,” set in West Texas, was an early 20th century bestseller.
In addition to his management of the Center for the Study of the Southwest, Busby is a professor of English at Texas State.
Receiving his Ph.D from the University of Colorado in 1977, he has since taught at A&M University, Indiana University and Purdue University.
His books include a collection of Katherine Anne Porter essays, called “From Texas to the World and Back,” a novel, “Fort Benning Blues,” and an historical treatment, “The Frontier Experience and the American Dream.”

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Posted by on Jul 31 2007. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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