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Texas Matters: Texas Socalism And Climate Change Literature

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There’s a lot of talk about socialism these days. If you are like me, you are getting email after email warning about the dangers of socialism ideas and how this political/economic school of thought clashes with traditional Texas values. But Texas does have some history of socialism.

For example there is the story of socialists of Desdemona – which is in Eastland County east of Abilene. The Socialists there loved to play baseball but played on a field owned by S.E. Snodgrass – an avid antisocialist. Snodgrass banned the socialists from his field unless they could buy it for the exorbitant sum of $50. They raised the purchase price and bought the one and a half acres. But they weren’t able to play baseball there for very long since oil was discovered on second base. The land became worth more than $40 thousand dollars – which was a problem for the socialist owners.

“Red Tom” Hickey was born in Ireland and moved to Texas in 1907 and launched a weekly newspaper in Hallettsville called the Rebel – the title was intended to appeal to the unreconstructed in Texas while providing pro-socialist articles.

The story is told in the book Red Tom Hickey The Uncrowned King of Texas Socialism. Peter Buckingham is the author. He said Texas appeared to Hickey as fertile ground for socialism to take root.

It’s published by Texas A&M University Press.

Offill’s Weather

As doomsday novels go Weather  by Jenny Offill is a little like getting good news where we can get it.

Protagonist Lizzie Benson is a self-described “feral librarian” who doesn’t have a lot of respect from library patrons and yet seems to be an indispensable part of their lives as she guides them to answers to life's big questions.  Lizzie is similarly underappreciated by others in this book, but not by Sylvia — an expert on climate change whose podcast Hell and High Water has such a growing audience that she hires Lizzie to answer listener email.  Through it all, Lizzie is a wife and mom managing both challenging roles. She is also worried about her brother who is a recovering drug addict. Lizzie seems to have answers for everyone, except for herself and her own sense of loss over what is happening to the planet.

What results from the novel Weather is a serious look at modern day trials and tribulations and the ways in which we are all clinging to life rafts through the good, the bad, and the sometimes humorous.

Yvette Benavides talked to author Jenny Offill recently to discuss her novel Weather. It’s published by Knopf.

Yvette Benavides is a writer and professor of creative writing at Our Lady of the Lake University.

David Martin Davies can be reached at DMDavies@TPR.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi