cover image Karankawa County: Short Stories from a Corner of Texas

Karankawa County: Short Stories from a Corner of Texas

Neal Morgam, Neal Morgan. Texas A&M University Press, $19.95 (141pp) ISBN 978-0-89096-423-1

Rancher Morgan writes in the hope of restoring a true regional identity to his beloved Southeast Texas, long stereotyped, he believes, by Hollywood. The tall tales in his first book are tied together by a common cast of characters: the eccentric denizens of Karankawa County, a place that time forgot. In ``Joe Willie's Problem,'' Joe's dilemma is damningly quaint: he can destroy the inner workings of any machine with a mere glance. In ``Maud and Mahatma,'' a colorful, unlikely pair--an ex-whore and a guru--discovers the joys of love and parenting. The author nimbly assembles the elements of impending mayhem and then sets it in motion with a hilarious flourish, as when a cow race in ``Karankawa Rodeo'' is won by a beast that has panicked while still on the back of a truck, or, in ``War Hoss Kelly,'' when a bull, a horse named Baby Doll and two mongrels create pandemonium in the Great Coastal Bank. At his best, Morgan adds charming material to the annals of American folklore, but does not always escape the net cast by cultural cliches. (May)