Tag Archives: Texas literature

Robert Flynn Author Novelist Teacher

Bob’s Story:
 I was born at home in a house surrounded by cotton fields.  A few miles to the east and we would would have been in an oil field.  A few miles west and we would have been on land good for nothing but running cows and chasing jackrabbits.  My grandfather had been tricked into buying the only place in twenty miles that would grow cotton.
 
It was in the cotton field that I first learned the power of the English language.  Those who chopped cotton with a hoe were not called hoers.  As my mother explained to me with a switch.  It occurred to me that if the wrong word like hoer had the power to move my mother to such action, just think what using the right word like hoe hand could accomplish.
 
That was when I first got the notion of being a writer.  I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.  We didn’t go in much for writing at the country school I attended.  We studied penmanship.  But we knew what a writer was.  A writer was somebody who was dead.  And if he was any good he had been dead a long time. If he was real good, people killed him. They killed him with hemlock. Hemlock was the Greek word for Freshman Composition.
 
The country school I attended was closed, and we were bused to Chillicothe. Chillicothe, Texas is small. Chillicothe is so small there’s only one Baptist Church. Chillicothe is so small you have to go to Quanah to have a coincidence.  For a good coincidence, you have to go to Vernon.  Chillicothe was fairly bursting with truth and beauty, and my teacher encouraged me to write something that had an epiphany.  For an epiphany, you had to go all the way to Wichita Falls.
 
Real writers wrote about such things as I had never heard of.Damsels.  Splendor falling on castle walls.  For splendor, we had to go to the Fort Worth Fat Stock Show. Since I wasn’t overly familiar with damsels and  splendor, I tried reading what real writers wrote about rural life.  “Dear child of nature, let them rail.  There is a nest in a green vale.”  Which was pretty mystifying to me.  Didn’t writers get chiggers like everybody else?
 
It looked like for truth and beauty you had to cross Red River.  All I knew about was a little place called Chillicothe.  And it wasn’t even the Chillicothe that was on the map.  Truth in that mythical place was neither comic nor tragic, neither big nor eternal.  And it was revealed through the lives of common folk who belched and fornicated, and knew moments of courage, and saw beauty in their meager lives.  But I could not write about the people I knew without using the vocabulary they knew.  My father did not believe a cowboy said “golly bum” when a horse ran him through a bob wire fence.
 
Words are not casual things.  They are powerful.  Even explosive.  Words can start wars, or families.  Words can wound, they can shock and offend.  Words can also heal, and explain, and give hope and understanding.  Words have an intrinsic worth, and there is pride and delight in using the right word.  Anyone who chops cotton with an axe is a hoer.
(From “Truth and Beauty”)
 
THE REST OF THE STORY
In New Testament times, paper was expensive and writing laborious.  It is for that reason that some stories in the Gospels seem truncated.  Today you can learn The Rest of the Story:
 
The Good Deed, John 9:
 
Jesus spat on the ground and made some mud with the spittle; he rubbed the mud on the man’s eyes, and told him, “Go wash your face in the pool of Siloam.  So the man went, washed his face, and came back seeing.  His neighbors then, and the people who had seen him begging before this, asked, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?”
The rest of the story:
 
The following day, the man came to Jesus again, and said, “You have ruined my life.  I can’t read or write.  I don’t recognize numbers.  I have no skills.  And now my neighbors know I’m not blind.  How can I beg?  Are you going to let me starve?”  And Jesus spat on the ground again.

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Robert Flynn (author) – STANDING ON THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD

Bob’s Story:

 
I was born at home in a house surrounded by cotton fields.  A few miles to the east and we would would have been in an oil field.  A few miles west and we would have been on land good for nothing but running cows and chasing jackrabbits.  My grandfather had been tricked into buying the only place in twenty miles that would grow cotton.
 
It was in the cotton field that I first learned the power of the English language.  Those who chopped cotton with a hoe were not called hoers.  As my mother explained to me with a switch.  It occurred to me that if the wrong word like hoer had the power to move my mother to such action, just think what using the right word like hoe hand could accomplish.
 
That was when I first got the notion of being a writer.  I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.  We didn’t go in much for writing at the country school I attended.  We studied penmanship.  But we knew what a writer was.  A writer was somebody who was dead.  And if he was any good he had been dead a long time. If he was real good, people killed him. They killed him with hemlock. Hemlock was the Greek word for Freshman Composition.
 
The country school I attended was closed, and we were bused to Chillicothe. Chillicothe, Texas is small. Chillicothe is so small there’s only one Baptist Church. Chillicothe is so small you have to go to Quanah to have a coincidence.  For a good coincidence, you have to go to Vernon.  Chillicothe was fairly bursting with truth and beauty, and my teacher encouraged me to write something that had an epiphany.  For an epiphany, you had to go all the way to Wichita Falls.
 
Real writers wrote about such things as I had never heard of.Damsels.  Splendor falling on castle walls.  For splendor, we had to go to the Fort Worth Fat Stock Show. Since I wasn’t overly familiar with damsels and  splendor, I tried reading what real writers wrote about rural life.  “Dear child of nature, let them rail.  There is a nest in a green vale.”  Which was pretty mystifying to me.  Didn’t writers get chiggers like everybody else?
 
It looked like for truth and beauty you had to cross Red River.  All I knew about was a little place called Chillicothe.  And it wasn’t even the Chillicothe that was on the map.  Truth in that mythical place was neither comic nor tragic, neither big nor eternal.  And it was revealed through the lives of common folk who belched and fornicated, and knew moments of courage, and saw beauty in their meager lives.  But I could not write about the people I knew without using the vocabulary they knew.  My father did not believe a cowboy said “golly bum” when a horse ran him through a bob wire fence.
 
Words are not casual things.  They are powerful.  Even explosive.  Words can start wars, or families.  Words can wound, they can shock and offend.  Words can also heal, and explain, and give hope and understanding.  Words have an intrinsic worth, and there is pride and delight in using the right word.  Anyone who chops cotton with an axe is a hoer.
(From “Truth and Beauty”)
 



THE REST OF THE STORY

In New Testament times, paper was expensive and writing laborious.  It is for that reason that some stories in the Gospels seem truncated.  Today you can learn The Rest of the Story:
 
The Good Deed, John 9:
 
Jesus spat on the ground and made some mud with the spittle; he rubbed the mud on the man’s eyes, and told him, “Go wash your face in the pool of Siloam.  So the man went, washed his face, and came back seeing.  His neighbors then, and the people who had seen him begging before this, asked, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?”
The rest of the story:
 
The following day, the man came to Jesus again, and said, “You have ruined my life.  I can’t read or write.  I don’t recognize numbers.  I have no skills.  And now my neighbors know I’m not blind.  How can I beg?  Are you going to let me starve?”  And Jesus spat on the ground again.

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Author | Teacher
Robert Flynn is well known
 for his Western Novels,
which are infused with
his wry sense of humor, as well as for his sometimes controversial opinions on religion, politics, war 
and the world at large.
 
Take a look at his blog, his novels and his other books to get a taste of his unique perspective and his highly skilled narrative and style.
NOW AVAILABLE in the Apple App Store: a new multimedia adventure, from award-winning author and Texas Literary Hall of Fame member Robert Flynn. Antarctica – If angels had blubber instead of flutter; if they sang Holy Cow instead of Hosanna, Antarctica would be paradise.
 
Beautiful beyond description because there is nothing else like it, endlessly fascinating–an everlasting exhibit of iceberg sculptures as discrete as snowflakes, penguins porpoising like synchronized swimmers, the blowing of whales, the tympani of ice cracking and glaciers calving. It is seen only by the blessed and those who know it best fear the loss of it most.


Is doing the right thing the right thing to do? Riley O’Connor did what he was taught was right. When he told his story his listeners agreed he had done the right thing. But Riley was not convinced and became Jade, a feared and respected outlaw. Then he met a woman who could prove he did the right thing but she did what everyone knew was the wrong thing and refused to confess it.
 
 
Follow RobtFlynnAuthor on Twitter
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Robert Flynn
Flynn in 2008

Flynn in 2008
Born April 12, 1932 (age 87)
Chillicothe, Texas
Occupation Novelist
Genre Texas literatureWestern fiction, satire
Subject Texas, war, religion
Notable works North To Yesterday
Website
robert-flynn.net

Robert Flynn (né Robert Lopez Flynn; born 12 April 1932 Chillicothe, Texas) is an author and professor emeritus at Trinity University.

Styles and themes[edit]

Flynn’s early fame came with the novel, North to Yesterday, which was a national bestseller. In Don Quixote fashion, it mocked the legend of the cowboy in Western novels while paying homage to it at the same time (anticipating Larry McMurtry‘s Lonesome Dove). Later works focused on more modern themes: rural life, going to war, religion in modern times and conflicts between “small town morality” and mass media/pop culture.

Novels like In the House of the Lord explored more religious/spiritual themes. Wanderer Springs adopted the gently satirical tone of his earlier works while also examining the interconnectedness between people and families in a small Texas town (inviting comparison to writers like Elmer Kelton or Garrison Keillor). The Last Klick touches upon themes of his service in the Vietnam War (reminiscent of novelist Tim O’Brien). In his latest novel Tie-Fast Country, Flynn returns to earlier themes, depicting a grandmother rancher with a checkered past who is out of sync with contemporary life. (The narrator, on the other hand, is a TV news producer who has to confront her).

Flynn’s short stories touch upon more serious themes and are written perhaps with a more lyrical style.

In 2010 and 2011, Flynn published two novels through JoSara MeDia, Jade:Outlaw and its sequel, Jade: the Law. Both novels portray the grim realities of living in west Texas in the late 19th century where settlers/Indians/Mexicans frequently clash. Jade, the protagonist, is hired as an escort for cattle, guarding property and chasing after rustlers. He quickly discovers that just to do his job means getting involved in brutal situations that trouble his conscience. Jade ends up falling in love with Crow Poison, an Indian woman whose husband he had killed. Eventually he realizes that both sides have culpability. His outrage translates into a desire to fight for the sake of justice (even if it results in tragedy). At the end of the novel, Jade (with the support of his wife) agrees to serve as sheriff for his town (which becomes the basis for the sequel, Jade: The Law). Of this ebook, San Antonio Express News book reviewer Ed Conroy writes:[1] “Flynn brilliantly employs a directly simple, subtle and at times sardonic narrative voice to tell this tale. It is alternately tough and tender, succinct and sweet, cadenced to the clip-clop of a horse trotting down Main Street, the hullabaloo of a steam locomotive triumphantly making its way into town amid a jubilant crowd’s hoopla, and, of course, to the shots of guns of many kinds fired in self-defense, anger, treachery and haste….Through chronicling Jade’s struggles to bring some ordinary order into what eventually becomes Jade Town, Flynn makes clear that the cost of many of our male ancestors’ genocidal policies toward Indians, systematic abuse of women and fears of the “mongrelization” of the “white race” was massive social trauma of immensely tragic proportions.”

Flynn was inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame in October 2012.[2]

Flynn taught writing to college students over four decades. In a 2007 audio interview,[3] he said, “You can read any book on writing fiction for example, and they will tell you the same thing. Someone may say it in a different way that gives you better insight, but there are no secrets in writing; it’s just a matter of doing it.”

Bibliography[edit]

Novels[edit]

  • North To Yesterday
  • In the House of the Lord
  • The Sounds of Rescue, The Signs of Hope
  • Wanderer Springs
  • The Last Klick
  • The Devil’s Tiger, with Dan Klepper
  • Tie-Fast Country
  • Jade: The Outlaw (ebook + pb) JoSara MeDia (September 1, 2010)
  • Jade: The Law (ebook + pb) JoSara MeDia (October 2011)

Vietnam Memoir[edit]

  • A Personal War In Vietnam

Short story collections[edit]

  • Living with the Hyenas
  • Seasonal Rain
  • Slouching towards Zion

Essays[edit]

  • When I was Just Your Age, oral histories, edited with Susan Russell
  • Growing Up a Sullen Baptist
  • Paul Baker and the Integration of Abilities

Religious/social essays[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Reprinted in full on the Amazon.com Book page for this book
  2. ^ “Texas Literary Hall of Fame | Fort Worth Library”. Fortworthtexas.gov. Archived from the original on 2014-05-12. Retrieved 2012-11-02.
  3. ^ “Texas author Robert Flynn Interview (2007)”Archive.org. Retrieved 3 April 2019.

Further reading[edit]

  • Art at Our Doorstep: San Antonio Writers and Artists featuring Robert Flynn. Edited by Nan Cuba and Riley Robinson (Trinity University Press, 2008).

External links[edit]

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