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Hard Scrabble

Hard Scrabble
Observations on a Patch of Land

Now back in print—the second volume in the acclaimed Brazos Trilogy by John Graves, who is widely acknowledged as Texas’s most beloved writer

February 2016
This is a print-on-demand title. Expedited shipping is not available.
288 pages | 5.5 x 8.5 |

“A kind of homemade book—imperfect like a handmade thing, a prize. It’s a galloping, spontaneous book, on occasion within whooping distance of that greatest and sweetest of country books, Ivan Turgenev’s A Sportsman’s Notebook.” —Edward Hoagland, New York Times Book Review

“His subjects are trees and brush, hired help, fences, soil, armadillos and other wildlife, flood and drought, local history, sheep and goats . . . and they come to us reshaped and reenlivened by his agreeably individual (and sometimes cranky) notions.” —New Yorker

“If Goodbye to a River was in some sense Graves’s Odyssey, this book is his [version of Hesiod’s] Works and Days. It is partly a book about work, partly a book about nature, but mostly a book about belonging. In the end John Graves has learned to belong to his patch of land so thoroughly that at moments he can sense in himself a unity with medieval peasants and Sumerian farmers, working with their fields by the Tigris.” —Larry McMurtry, Washington Post Book World

Hard Scrabble is hard pastoral of the kind we have learned to recognize in Wordsworth, Frost, Hemingway, and Faulkner. It celebrates life in accommodation with a piece of the ‘given’ creation, a recalcitrant four hundred or so acres of Texas cedar brake, old field, and creek bottom, which will require of any genuine resident all the character he can muster.” —Southwest Review

  • 1. By Way of Introduction
  • 2. A Comment
  • 3. Used to Be
  • 4. The Forging of a Squireen
  • 5. Of the Lay of Things, and a Creek
  • 6. Ghosts
  • 7. A Rooted Population
  • 8. An Irrelevance
  • 9. Hoof and Paw, Tooth and Claw, Little Creatures Everywhere
  • 10. His Chapter
  • 11. Helpers
  • 12. 2 × 4
  • 13. Another Irrelevance
  • 14. The War with Mother N.
  • 15. Interlude
  • 16. The War Resumed
  • 17. What Happened to Mother N.’s Own Boy?
  • 18. Reality as Viewed Darkly Through Old Snuff-Bottle Shards
  • Afterword by the Author (2002)

Available for Kindle
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Available on the Apple Store

This book may also be available on the following library platforms; check with your local library:
3M Cloud Library/bibliotheca