Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

email signup Blog Video Facebook Twitter Instagram


Book cover. Click to enlarge.

Whose Names Are Unknown (2004)

The Lost Traveler (1958, 1995)

An Owl on Every Post (1970, 1994)

Cry of the Tinamou (1997)

Told in the Seed (1998)













1 / 2

An excerpt from An Owl on Every Post (p. 117):

There was nothing in sight on the open prairie. The high clear air shimmered with moonlight. The silence deepened into a sound of itself, a palpable atmosphere through which we walked to what destination I did not know. In this unpeopled place what destination could there be? An intensely felt but not understood part of me was being stretched in every direction to the circular horizon and upward to that immense field of stars. I was aware of my hunger then, a hunger that stirred me to living life, a knowledge that I was more than myself, that self of the hours of day and night, that the unknown answer lay all about me, that everything spoke to me and yet I could not understand. I wanted to be done with this new feeling, but I was overcome with such loneliness that I dared to run ahead and slip my hand into Grandfather's. His dry fingers bent to enclose my hand that sought his finite touch and comfort. We walked like this until we neared the length of prairie that broke off at a precipice, a long high cliff following the creek bed far below. He let go my hand and walked more slowly, scuffing over the grass here and there, feeling for button cactus. He sat down, raised his knees, and let his arms rest upon them. A sigh came out of his slackened body. He motioned for me to sit near him and for Bounce to lie down at his feet. We sat looking into the nothingness of night. We listened to baby coyotes yipping over a kill their parents had brought them.

An excerpt from Sanora Babb's Foreword to The Dark Earth & Other Stories from the Great Depression (Capra Press, 1987):

I love being alive on this earth. A generous earth on which we damage its soil and its atmosphere, its plants, birds, insects and animals, all of which we are an ignorant part. An earth on which we war and starve and sing and live. No celebration is due war and starvation, and related ills; there is less and less hope on the grand scale, but writers deal only with individuals in their stories, and these separate lives, not always notably related, are after all the cells of the whole... The stories here, written years ago, were an imaginative recreation of bits of my experience during a very dark time in history, yet in that dark time illumination lived alongside trouble. In extreme adversity people revealed their unknown nobility, as the bloody fields of war grew green grass and crops and fruit trees again.