I thought I'd heard of all of the Texas writers who emerged in the 1950s and '60s, but I discovered Gary Cartwright last month by reading his New York Times obituary.
Cartwright, who died at age 82 after a fall in his home in Austin, was among the brilliant coterie of sportswriters mentored by Blackie Sherrod at various Fort Worth and Dallas newspapers.
The most famous Sherrod disciples are the still active Dan Jenkins and the late Bud Shrake, both of whom gained renown writing for Sports Illustrated and other national publications along with novels and movie scripts.
While Cartwright remained a lifelong friend of Shrake and a pal of Jenkins, he never made as big a national splash, building a career as a star feature writer for Texas Monthly magazine.
I've been enjoying Cartwright's memoir, "The Best I Can Recall," which captures with vivid immediacy Dallas' recovery from the Kennnedy assassination and emergence as a major American city. The book suffers from too much 1960s decadence but gives a rich account of Texas' cowboy counterculture and literary and music community.
Read in concert with Cartwright's "Confessions of a Washed Up Sportswriter," an essay he crafted for Willie Morris' Harper's magazine, the book renders a harsh indictment of American newspapers, especially the now defunct Dallas Times Herald and Morning News.
Cartwright paints the two papers as staunch supporters of the city's business establishment unwilling to print unpleasant truths. He also casts a harsh light on the Philadelphia Inquirer, where Cartwright endured a rocky, if brief, employment.
Cartwright displays fearless self-scutiny, admitting to at least two incidents of violence against women. While his accounts of boorish behavior grow tedious, he's redeemed by the luminous quality of his writing.