The University of Houston Magazine

Making Book: “Lonesome Dove” Drafts on Display at UH

Exhibit Rounds up Larry McMurtry Papers on 25th Anniversary.

by Marisa Ramirez (’00)

Larry McMurtry PapersFrom Big Chief tablet papers lined with suggested character names to typewritten manuscripts with handwritten remarks, the Larry McMurtry Papers housed in the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections provides a window into the author’s mind as he was writing “Lonesome Dove.”

With the celebration this year of the 25th anniversary of the publishing of the epic story of two ex-Texas Rangers who drive cattle from Texas to Montana, it’s an opportune time to study the material and learn more about McMurtry’s writing process, said Julie Grob, digital projects and instruction librarian for Special Collections.

“We have typescripts for most of his major works through 1987,” Grob said. “We have a lot of things that were different side projects, works of nonfiction, screenplays for movies and TV. We have a little correspondence and photographs.”

Fans of the Pulitzer Prizewinning novel, which was brought to the small screen in 1989 in a popular television mini-series of the same name, will be particularly interested in the 50-page synopsis McMurtry shopped to various publishers.

“The west was virgin but for an instant, and in making the frontier safe for settlement, they also made it not a frontier, and thus doomed the way of life for which they were supremely fitted and which they dearly loved,” McMurtry wrote in his description of the characters and story of “Lonesome Dove.” Fans familiar with the text know the character Newt Dobbs. Margin notes show McMurtry toyed with the idea of naming him Skeeter or Luke. One title page considers an alternate name for “Lonesome Dove” – “Clara’s Orchard.”

Everything in the collection is either handwritten or typewritten and is preserved in acid-free folders, acid-free boxes and secure climate-controlled storage to keep out the heat, humidity and light.

McMurtry, a Texas novelist, essayist and screenwriter, lived in the Bayou City in the late 1950s. He completed graduate school at Rice University in Houston and worked as a book reviewer for the Houston Post and a manager of a bookstore on San Felipe.

“The correspondence that we have is a series of letters to Grace David, who owned a book shop where he worked before becoming famous as a writer,” Grob said. “There also is some correspondence with a college buddy of his. So, most of what we have is the early days, when he's starting out, and you see that he really wants to be a writer. He's trying to organize his life in such a way that he can do it.”

The Larry McMurtry Papers is available for viewing by contacting the UH Special Collections at 713-743-9750 or by visiting the UH Special Collections on the 2nd floor of the M.D. Anderson Library.

News Media Pump Professor For His Oil Spill Expertise

New HoustonPBS Studio Helps Don Van Nieuwenhuise Shine in National Spotlight.

By Laura Tolley

After an explosion and fire on the Macondo offshore drilling rig killed 11 people and caused a massive oil spill, the world watched and waited as BP tried to cap the blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. And as TV and print journalists worked to explain the complicated efforts to kill the well, they often turned to University of Houston professor Don Van Nieuwenhuise to get an experienced and understandable explanation of the events as they were happening.

Don Van NieuwenhuiseVan Nieuwenhuise, director of the Professional Geoscience Programs in UH’s Department of Geosciences, provided expert commentary about the many efforts to halt the blowout to local, national and international media outlets.

His work included nearly 100 TV appearances, including live interviews on CNN and “Good Morning America,” interviews with the New York Times and countless other print media, and taped interviews for the national evening newscasts on ABC and NBC. He even patiently answered questions for three hours for a special one-hour news show on The Weather Channel.

With his real-world experience drilling more than 15 exploration, production and blowout kill wells, Van Nieuwenhuise knew what he was talking about, and it showed. Journalists came to trust and depend on his unique combination of intelligence, experience and ability to explain complex issues in easy-to-understand terms. People “got it” after Van Nieuwenhuise explained it.

The vast majority of the national TV interviews were taped at a new interview studio at the HoustonPBS studios on the UH campus.

The interview studio was built to provide live video feeds nationwide via the Vyvx fiber-optic transmission network. Vyvx is a nationwide switched fiber-optic broadcast-quality television transmission system.

The Vyvx Studio allows local experts to be seen and heard across the country without ever leaving Houston.

So thanks to a knowledgeable and trusted UH professor and a new studio at HoustonPBS, millions of viewers and readers gained a better understanding of this terrible tragedy.

Eat, Read, Drive — New Options Improving Campus Quality of Life

From New Dorm and Dining to Textbook and Car Rentals, Amenities Abound.

Shawn Lindsey

Cougar VillageFall 2010 ushers in both new students and new amenities to the University of Houston. From new dorms to fresh dining, the quality of life and number of services offered to students has never been greater.

The new Cougar Village residence hall, UH’s latest state-of-the-art housing complex, is redefining the freshman experience. It opened its doors to first-time-in-college freshmen in August, and the seven-story 291,000-square-foot facility is now home to more than 1,100 students.

“This amazing new residence hall is built for student success,” said UH President Renu Khator. “It is here that our newest Cougars are beginning their academic journeys, so great care was placed in its design. With its ample study spaces, computer labs and meeting areas, Cougar Village will be home to both great students and bold ideas.”

Residents of Cougar Village — and the entire campus community — also are enjoying a new dining hall on campus. Following a state-of-the-art $11 million renovation at the Moody Towers dining hall, the new Fresh Food Co. takes the idea of on-campus dining from cafeteria to cultured all-you-can-eat cuisine. The facility offers nine made to order stations where chefs prep and cook each order in front of diners. The stations facilitate a variety of cooking styles and tastes, from vegetarian to international fare.

“It is not your typical cafeteria, I don’t even like to use that name ‘cafeteria,’” said Tori Bergersen, “It’s not a cafeteria, it’s a restaurant.”

Fresh Food Co.UH students who wish to venture off campus for a meal or otherwise, but don’t have a car, can now rent a set of wheels by the hour. Students 18 and over with a valid driver’s license can participate in the Connect by Hertz car share program at UH, which offers four vehicles: Mazda 3, Mazda 6, Ford Fusion and Ford Escape. Two vehicles are housed at Cougar Village, while the other two can be picked up at Calhoun Lofts.

Cars can be rented by the hour or for a day, beginning at $8 per hour. The rate includes fuel and insurance, and all of the vehicles are equipped with GPS systems and a smart control screen pad that can be used to request rental extensions and other services. The car share requires an annual $50 membership, but UH students, faculty and staff who sign up before Dec. 31 will have their annual fee waived. Car share participants are given a membership card to access the vehicles.

Another unique rental option new to UH students this fall is textbook rentals. UH students now have the option to rent textbooks for the semester from the UH Bookstore, which could save them 50 percent or more over purchasing new books.

“Approximately 56 percent of all of our courses at UH have a textbook rental program associated with them,” said Emily Messa, assistant vice president for university services. “Additionally, we also have a number of titles available in digital or e-books. More and more of our students are getting comfortable with apps and digital products, so that’s something we also are glad to offer to our students.”

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