KARANKAWA COUNTY by Neal Morgan

KARANKAWA COUNTY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Nine stories about a fictional town in the ""southeasternmost county in Texas."" Some of Morgan's material deals with regional high jinks (especially high-school football), but a couple of tales are original enough--and revealing enough of place--to offer a good time for the general reader. ""Maud and Mahatma,"" in particular, is a delight. In it, Maud--an ex-schoolteacher and madam--buys the Country Tavern when brothels are outlawed. Soon enough, she is educating Mahatma, an ex-vet with a violent past, in the intricacies of nonviolence according to Gandhi and Thoreau. Mahatma moves into a bus and holds court in the tavern, making various Gandhian pronouncements; his temple in the beer-joint gets TV coverage, and he becomes a celebrity until a ruckus at the tavern destroys everything. All of this is told in a voice that is precisely descriptive of local types, as well as transients who happen into Karankawa, ""a vague never-never land"" that is ""clouded in the minds of residents and outsiders alike."" ""Joe Willie's Problem"" is a clever telling about a man whose very presence causes all the mechanical things around him to fail, from school buses to pencil sharpeners. And ""Waiting for '57"" is a study of the rabid football fever for which sections of Texas have become so famous: a Karankawa state championship in 1957 so spoils the fans that they fire all subsequent coaches who fail to produce a champion. The remaining stories--though the study of a particular region is still precise--tend to trail off into local humor, ranging from an oil-refinery worker (so enraged with the bank that he drags his Brahman bull into it) to a girl who loses her sweetheart to football. A high-energy romp, then, through an area so distinctive that it might as well be another country.

Pub Date: May 28th, 1990
Publisher: Texas A&M Univ. Press