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Likely Stories: Her Texas

Jim McKeown
Her Texas: Story, Image, Poem, & Song Edited by Donna Walker-Nixon, Cassy Burleson, Rachel Crawford, & Ashley Palmer

An impressive and eclectic collection of writings by women round out the first annual Women Writers Month on Likely Stories

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

We round out the first Women Writers Month on “Likely Stories” with a wide-ranging and interesting collection of writings in multiple genres.  Creative non-fiction leads off, followed by song, poetry, fiction and an interesting section on “Lagniappe: An Editorial Extrusion.”  Three of the editors contributed to this section. including Rachel Crawford, who begins with a short story, “First Names.”  Cassy Burleson adds five fine poems, and novelist Donna Walker-Nixon contributes a short story.

This volume, published in 2015 contains so many impressive works, I hardly know where to begin.  In non-fiction pieces, I especially liked Betty Wiesepape’s story of a marriage in the beginning of the 20th century.  Wiesepape writes, “Ransom Filmore Holland took Vera Kate Bruner to be the mother of his five children on December 24, 1913.  It was not the kind of wedding young women dream about.  No courtship, no matching gold bands, no long white wedding dress – only a hurried buggy ride to purchase a marriage license and stand before a justice of the peace before the Smith County courthouse closed for the Christmas holiday” (55). 

The collection of poetry contain a number of well-known writers.  Anne McCrady has a reputation in Texas.  “Camp Song” (259) showcases a poet, who can write tender, pleasing poetry, full of vivid images.  It also features Naomi Shihab Nye and Sandra Cisneros among others.

The fiction selection also presented some difficult choices for a favorite, but since I love – and play – word games, I am going to go with Laurie Champion’s neat and compact story, “I’m Her(e).”  Champion writes, “We laughed a lot.  ‘Knock-knock,’ you said one morning when you heard my knock at your hotel door. // ‘Who’s there?’ I asked. //’It’s I’, you said.  You cracked open the door. // ‘Yeah,’ I said.  ‘It’s me.’  You told me I should keep my pronouns straight, said something about subjects and objects and explained the difference between the use of me and I, her and she.  I listened to you, watched you smirk.  I stood outside the room and waited for you to open the door wider, invite me in.  You finished talking, paused, and looked at me, gazed at me as though sizing me up.  Not quite sure what to say, I finally twisted one corner of my mouth into a faint smile and said, ‘It’s you,’ I said.  ‘I’m here.’ // ‘This is he,’ you said. // ‘I’m hemmed,’ I said.  I rolled my eyes and wondered why I told these stupid jokes, played dumb word games.  Perhaps it was part of our agreement.  Our unspoken promise to each other not to take things seriously, or too seriously, as you once put it” (316).  Seems to me these two have a case of the nerves, and from the mention of another woman, I am betting this is a tale with a tryst. 

While Her Texas: Story, Image, Poem, & Song does have some pieces less equal than others, this celebration of woman belongs on every reader’s book shelf.  It has plenty of writing to justify 5 Stars.

Likely Stories is a production of KWBU.  I’m Jim McKeownFor a much longer version of this review, please see my blog at  Join me again next time for Likely Stories, and HAPPY READING!

Life-long voracious reader, Jim McKeown, is an English Instructor at McLennan Community College. His "Likely Stories" book review can be heard every Thursday on KWBU-FM! Reviews include fiction, biographies, poetry and non-fiction. Join us for Likely Stories every Thursday featured during Morning Edition and All Things Considered with encore airings Saturday and Sunday during Weekend Edition.