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Author Archive: "Jim Crace"

Fraught Landscapes

I have recently been living in Texas. You'd need to be like me, an apprehensive Englishman, to share or even understand the uneasy thrill I have felt when walking in its countryside (though countryside is not a fitting word; it's far too tame for Texas — its wilds, perhaps, or its terrain).

A country hike — if you can find a stretch of land that isn't fenced or defended with "bob war" — is at best a risky affair in the Lone Star state. I've made mistakes. As the blundering innocent abroad, trusting everything I see, I have inspected a poison ivy too intimately on the seemingly innocuous Hike & Bike trail round Austin's Town Lake (the blisters stayed with me for weeks), and I have been fooled by seemingly smooth-skinned cactuses into grasping hold of their stems and then spent a week tweezering out a hundred tiny and invisible lances. I have tested my nerve by reaching a little too closely toward a lengthy alligator on the Gulf Coast and a saucer-sized tarantula in a Houston car park. I have failed to protect myself sufficiently against mosquitoes and ...

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