A Guide to the Edwin (Bud) Shrake Papers, 1936 - ongoing (Bulk: 1960-1993)
Edwin A. (Bud) Shrake, Jr., journalist, sportswriter, novelist, biographer and screenwriter, was born in Fort Worth, Texas on September 6, 1931. He attended Paschal High School where, along with Dan Jenkins (Semi Tough, Baja Oklahoma), he wrote for the Paschal Pantherette. In 1951, Shrake followed Jenkins to the Fort Worth Press Sports Department, run by legendary sportswriter Blackie Sherrod. While working for the Press full time, Shrake earned a degree in English and Philosophy at Texas Christian University .
In 1958, Shrake moved to the Dallas Times Herald as a sportswriter. The rival Dallas Morning News hired him away in 1961 to write a daily sports column. In 1964, Shrake moved to New York, again joining Dan Jenkins, this time as a writer for Sports Illustrated . While in New York, Shrake and Jenkins kept company with Billy Lee Brammer, Larry L. King, Willie Morris, George Plimpton, Norman Mailer, James Dickey, William Styron and many other literary lights of the day. Shrake was later to reminisce that this period consisted of "exciting, mostly idealistic times and ... everybody seemed to know everybody else among the crowd of writers" (Shrake papers, SWWC). Shrake returned to Texas in 1968, making Austin his home. He continued his association with Sports Illustrated until 1979 while also writing novels and screenplays. In addition, he wrote an occasional article for other magazines, notably "The Land of the Permanent Wave," published in the February 1970 Harper's Then-editor Willie Morris considered it one of two pieces published during his Harper's tenure that gave him "special pride. ... [It] struck a chord in me that I have never quite forgotten, having to do with how clean, funny, and lambent prose caught the mood of that moment in the country and mirrored with great felicity what we were trying to do at Harper's. To me few finer magazine essays have ever been written" (New York Days, 326).
To date, Shrake has published seven novels. All but one are set squarely in his home state and, as A. C. Greene once commented, "seemed to be reaching for some truth about life (Texas life) that needed to be explained" (Texas Monthly, Aug. 1981). Representative of Shrake's fiction are the heavily-researched, wry western, Blessed McGill; the searing portrait of Dallas during the days of the Kennedy assassination, Strange Peaches; and the retelling of Petronius' Satyricon, Peter Arbiter, wherein Shrake translates the decadence of imperial Rome to the decadence of oil-rich Texas.
In the late 1980s, Shrake turned to the writing of celebrity as-told-to autobiographies, beginning with his friend, musician Willie Nelson. Willie : An Autobiography was followed by Bootlegger's Boy, the story of the controversial former University of Oklahoma coach, Barry Switzer, and Harvey Penick's Little Red Book, tips and tales from the accomplished golfer. All three of these works made the bestseller's list, the Penick book becoming the bestselling sports book in American publishing history.
Shrake's versatility as a writer extends to screenwriting. Productions on which Shrake is credited include: J. W. Coop (1972), with Cliff Robertson playing a rodeo star adjusting to a changing west; Kid Blue (1973), a comic western starring Dennis Hopper; Tom Horn (1980), with Steve McQueen as the legendary shootist; and Songwriter (1984), a film about the country music business directed by Alan Rudolph and starring Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. Many other of Shrake's scripts remain unrealized despite the enthusiasm and support of prominent Hollywood figures. Actor/director Dennis Hopper was unable to finance a proposed production on Pancho Villa and Ambrose Bierce. The screenplay for that project was later reworked into the stage play, Pancho Villa's Wedding. Director Jonathan Demme labored to bring Big Mamoo to the screen for many years but his efforts to that end remain frustrated.
A. C. Greene listed Blessed McGill in 1981 as one of Texas' fifty best books and in so doing, fairly described much of Shrake's writing in general - it shows "an appreciation for the absurdities of existence, a recognition of irony's major role in the world, [and] highly suggestive humor" (Texas Monthly , Aug. 1981).
The Edwin (Bud) Shrake papers span the years from 1936 to 1993, with most of the material dating from 1960 to the present. The records are organized into the following three series: I. Writings (books, scripts, articles, school papers and comic strips); II. Personal Records; III. Other Writers. The archive includes book manuscript drafts, galley proofs, magazines, clippings, tear sheets, letters, photographs, slides, audiotapes, and a typewriter. Arrangement is in chronological order.
See also the Larry L. King Papers for correspondence and the Gary Cartwright Papers for material on the screenplay Rip.
Series 1 : Writings, 1960 - 1990 Boxes 1 - 22
This series constitutes the bulk of the record group and is broken down into four subseries: Books; Scripts; Articles; School Papers and Comic Strips. The subseries consist primarily of manuscript drafts but also contain research material, editing notes, galleys, magazines, tear sheets, and reviews. The series is arranged in chronological order. Of interest are some of Shrake’s handwritten notes on the title pages of his screenplays.
The first subseries, Books, (1960-1990), contains manuscripts, galleys, reviews and correspondence with editors. Also included are screenplays of Blessed McGill written by writers other than Shrake; an interview with Shrake written shortly after Limo was published; and a manuscript of the poem The Grubiad written for Peter Arbiter with the help of Shrake's friends: John Sullivan, Gary Cartwright, Jay Milner, David Simmons and Billy Lee Brammer.
The majority of the material in this subseries contain items relating to the creation of Willie: An Autobiography: boxes 4 to 7 include interview transcripts; boxes 7 and 8 contain research materials; boxes 8 to 13 house numerous manuscript drafts; and box 14 contains drafts, galley proofs and audio tapes of interviews. The drafts remain in the order in which they were typed into the computer by Shrake's assistant, Jody Gent. Mixed in with the Nelson drafts are letters to the publisher, letters about the Beverly Hills Cop II screenwriting arbitration, and letters about the novel Night Never Falls. The December 1987 draft was housed in six green three-ring binders with white labels. None of these binders have been retained. Edited drafts and Barry Switzer's formal revisions represent the Oklahoma football coach's autobiography, Bootlegger's Boy.
The second subseries, Scripts, (1971-1989), is made up of the screenplays Shrake wrote or co-wrote. In addition to the scripts, there is a letter from film director Jonathan Demme regarding a mutual project, Big Mamoo, and an article in Premiere about the difficulty of bringing the project to fruition. A stage play, Pancho Villa's Wedding Day, is also included. It began as a screenplay, was reworked as a stage musical, and was finally produced as a conventional play in Austin in 1984.
Four magazines containing Shrake articles form the third subseries, Articles, (1974 - 1975). They are: "The Land of the Permanent Wave," Harper's, February 1970; "Trouping the Colors for Gussie," Sports Illustrated, December 16, 1974; "The Screwing Up of Austin," Texas Observer, December 27, 1974; "Getting Swamped by 'Gators,'" Sports Illustrated, January 20, 1975. Also available is the portable typewriter on which Shrake typed most of his articles and books.
The fourth subseries, School Papers and Comic Strips, 195? - 196?, contains two college English papers annotated with the professor's comments, and hand-drawn comic strips "Captain High" and "Adventures of Nerd."
Series II : Personal Records, 1936 - 1991. Box 22
This series contains photographs and slides of Shrake and friends as well as personal letters. Most of this material dates from the 1960s, is in chronological order, and was purchased from Larry McMurtry.
Series III : Other Writers, 1987 - 1993. Box 23
This series contains manuscripts of works written by Shrake's friends, the writers Dan Jenkins and Willie Morris.
Open for research.
Edwin (Bud) Shrake Papers, Southwestern Writers Collection/Texas State University-San Marcos.
Donated by Bud Shrake, Bill Wittliff, and Jody Gent. Some items purchased. Contact the SWWC for information about additional materials from this writer that have not yet been fully processed. Texas State holds two collections of Shrake materials: this collection (the Edwin “Bud” Shrake Papers, 1936-ongoing), and a collection (the Edwin “Bud” Shrake Papers, 1943-1975) which formerly belonged to the Austin History Center (please refer to the finding aid for that collection for more information).
Processed by Gwyneth Cannan, June 1993 [Inventory revised December 2004].
Detailed Description of the Collection