Monday, May 11, 2009

Goodbye to Bud Shrake

Writer Bud Shrake died this past Friday. Although he’s considered a giant in Texas literature, having set all but one of his novels in the Lone Star State, he’s well-known around the world. He started as a journalist and moved into novels and biographies, including one of Willie Nelson, and screenplays.

Although a native of Fort Worth, Texas, he died in Austin, of cancer. In the 60s and 70s he was part of a group of Austin writers known as the Mad Dogs. Austin screenwriter, photographer, and friend, Bill Wittliff, said, “Bud was a treasure. He was one of those who took the raw material of our history and was making real literature of it. He was one of the greats with Larry McMurtry and Cormac McCarthy. We were fortunate indeed to have his voice.”

Shrake was probably best known for his book on golfing. He co-authored Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book, which became the best-selling sports book in publishing history, according to the Dallas News.

Shrake grew up during the depression. When asked why he became a writer, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that he answered:
The sight of bread lines and soup kitchens was always scary to me. I had this fear of being destitute. Somebody said the other day, 'Well, if you were afraid of being broke, you sure picked quite a way to make a living.' "
According to the Dallas News, “He was friends with some of the best-known literary, cultural and political stars of the era, including Willie Nelson, George Plimpton, Norman Mailer, James Dickey and William Styron.”

His literary agent, Esther Newberg, said:
He loved Texas. There isn't anybody you'll find who could say anything bad about him. And you don't find many people who have lived that long that you can say that about.
Bud Shrake was married three times, twice to the mother of his two sons, but the love of his later years was Ann Richards, ex-governor of Texas. He called her the anchor of his life for 17 years. He will be buried beside her in the Texas State Cemetery.

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  1. Must've been quite the character as well!

    L. Diane Wolfe

  2. What a nice tribute you've written.

    Jane Kennedy Sutton

  3. I'm not familiar with Shrake's work, but this is a nice and thoughtful tribute post to him.

  4. I didn't know him personally, but from what I know OF him, he was indeed a character.

  5. A fitting and touching tribute to a great writer. Thank you, Helen.

  6. I'm not familiar with this author, but it sounds like he had quite an interesting life and career. Thanks for posting this tribute.


  7. It's good that he's remembered in some way.

    Morgan Mandel

  8. I used to work in a bookstore and the "Little Red Book" sold and sold from spring through summer. Delightful memorial to an interesting fellow.

  9. 'Well, if you were afraid of being broke, you sure picked quite a way to make a living.' "

    That cracked me up.

    Nice story to share, Helen.

  10. Sad news, but a very nice tribute. Thanks for sharing this.

    NA Sharpe

  11. A great tribute to a special man. I especially admire his prolific career. Not many writers can write in such diverse genres and achieve so much success.

    In Quest of Theta Magic

  12. Helen,

    I'm not familiar with Bud Shrake but I was a fan of Ann Richards, so I'm sorry to hear about his death.

    He does sound like an interesting person and a great writer.

    Pat Browning


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