Gutenberg and beyond

We don’t hear much about the Gutenberg Bible at the HRC these days, although it used to seem, just after its acquisition, as though it occasioned a press release a week. After the obligatory mention of it, though, the article in the current New Yorker in its letter from Austin (“Final Destination: Why do the archives of so many great writers end up in Texas?”) tracks the successful acquisition of some correspondence of Graham Greene. The author of the article, D. T. Max, accompanies the Ransom Center’s current director and interviews him at some length on several subjects. I used to spend quite a bit of time at the HRC before its renovation but haven’t really explored the building since its completion. In the past, though, I devoted a certain amount of time to contemplating the study of Erle Stanley Gardner and wondering why it occupied such a prominent place in the building. I see that the HRC still offers the service of making reproductions of certain photographic materials (and this is one of the great photographic collections in existence). The article reports that the papers of various literary luminaries or those with connections to them are ranked in order of desirabllity of acquisition. I don’t know into which class Russell Banks, one of my favorite modern authors, falls according to this system, but I was interested to learn that his papers are now at the Ransom Center. There’s mention of ten boxes of documents “from a local humorist.” The implication is that the local humorist is still among us, so that rules out John Henry Faulk. Would Kelso fall into the category? I’m betting that the local humorist is Cactus Pryor, but I wish the article had named the name. Kerry Awn? Kinky Friedman? Somebody from the Esther’s Follies troupe past or present?

2 Comments so far

  1. LEW (unregistered) on June 12th, 2007 @ 4:03 pm

    Would Kinky Friedman be considered a local humorist?


  2. Rantor (unregistered) on June 12th, 2007 @ 4:33 pm

    I think of him as one. He does have a pied-a-terre (or did last I knew) here in Austin for use when he’s not traveling or at Utopia. He was writing a sort of humor column for TexMo before he ran for elective office, he’s always been amusing when broadcasting on the Sam & Bob show, the old band’s lyrics are funny, etc., although I’ve always found the “humor” in the mysteries, apart from the titles, to be labored. I do think that the “local humorist” is most likely to be Cactus Pryor.



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