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About GoodBye to a River


Goodbye to a River: A Narrative recounts the author’s “farewell” canoe trip along a stretch of the Brazos River in Texas during the Fall of 1957. Fearing that planned construction of a series of dams soon would change the Brazos irrevocably, Graves set out to experience its natural beauty one last time, accompanied only by his dachshund.

Often compared to Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, Graves’s Goodbye to a River (1960) is acclaimed for its beautiful prose, naturalist philosophy, and original style. Illustrated with the author’s black and white photographs, the book interweaves the account of the journey with regional folklore, history, and childhood memories in an engaging narrative that explores the larger issue of modern mankind’s relationship with the natural world.

An inspiration to generations of environmentalists, the book won the Carr P. Collins Award of the Texas Institute of Letters in 1961 and was nominated for a National Book Award. The success of Goodbye to a River is believed to be a major reason that only three of the proposed thirteen dams were built on the Brazos.

The 1989 Book Club of Texas edition of Goodbye to a River was limited to 550 copies, designed and printed at the press of W. Thomas Taylor in Austin, Texas.