Critical Insights: Horton Foote Review

“Upon his death in 2009, American writer Horton Foote left behind a significant but understated body of work. Beloved for his ability to connect small-town Texas issues with those of many Americans, he is perhaps most famous for his award-winning screenplay adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird. This volume of the Critical Insights series offers new and compelling insights into the unassuming writer and his many stage plays and adaptations.

An opening section, Career, Life and Influence, presents two essays summarizing early critical reception and interest in Foote, and providing salient biographical information.

Critical Contexts offers four essays devoted to examining Foote’s work in regards to the social and critical world around him. “All Lives Matter: African Americans in Horton Foote’s South,” shines his work through the lens of America’s contemporary racial divide. And scholar Xueying Wang provides an interesting comparison of Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful with Chinese writer Lu Xun’s short story titled Blessing, which reflects the somewhat similar desires of very different protagonists.

Critical Readings then offers nine pieces covering topics such as Foote’s relationship to the American South, his artistic sensibilities as conveyed via aged characters, and his overall critical status. A truly engaging essay by Gerald C. Wood tells the story of the somewhat bumpy road to writing and developing the film Tender Mercies, for which Foote won the screenwriting Academy Award. And a selection by Cynthia Franco details the archive of Foote’s work held at Southern Methodist University.

The volume concludes with a valuable resources section, which includes a chronology of Horton Foote’s life, a listing of his works, and a bibliography, followed by an index.”
—ARBA Staff Reviewer