Preston Jones Achievements
Preston Jones is often labeled a regional playwright, and certainly one of his achievements was his treatment of the American Southwest as a setting for serious drama. His plays capture the idiosyncratic characters, regional language, and unique experience of the rural Southwest at a time of transition for the land and its people. The significance of Jones’s work, however, is not limited to his recording of the life of a specific community. The plays are significant commentaries on the way people deal with fundamental human problems: the pain of loneliness, the fear of failure, the effects of time. Like Anton Chekhov, Jones chronicles the passing of a way of life, and he does so with much of the gentle criticism and humorous affection of the Russian playwright. Jones’s work also contains an exuberance and rough energy, however, which are uniquely his and are rooted in the language and energy of his characters. Indeed, Jones’s discovery of the value to be found in the lives and troubles of the most ordinary of people and of the lyric poetry embedded in their native idiom constitutes his most important theatrical achievement.
Preston Jones Bibliography
Busby, Mark. Preston Jones. Boise, Idaho: Boise State University Press, 1983. Although many theses and dissertations have been written providing background on, and analysis of, Jones’s plays, this slim volume (fifty-two pages) is one of very few books published on the playwright and his works. Busby’s book, part of the Western Writers series of Boise State University, offers readers valuable criticism and interpretation of the playwright’s drama.
Clurman, Harold. Review of A Texas Trilogy, by Preston Jones. The Nation, October 9, 1976, 348-350. Compares Jones’s A Texas Trilogy to a farce of Eugene O’Neill’s projected cycle, A Tale of Possessors, Self-Dispossessed, based on O’Neill’s belief that “the greatest failure in history” was the United States, which, in its race for materialism, “lost all valid faith.” Clurman points out that Jones’s Bradleyville is a “microcosm” representing “domains beyond Texas or the South.”
Cook, Bruce. “Preston Jones: Playwright on the Range.” Saturday Review 3 (May 15, 1976): 40-42. Written three years before the playwright’s death, this article provides an informative look at the man, the artist, and the intellectual. Cook calls Jones “an original, a walking bundle of contradictions,” and the “most promising American playwright to come along in two or three decades.” Includes brief comments by critic Audrey Wood. Contains a photograph of Jones and another of a scene from A Place on the Magdalena Flats.
Jones, Preston. Preston Jones, an Interview. Interview by Annemarie Marek. London: New London Press, 1978. A candid twenty-eight-page interview.
Kroll, Jack. “Branch Water.” Review of A Texas Trilogy, by Preston Jones. Newsweek, October 4, 1976, 97. Kroll includes a brief discussion of the reasons for the mixed reviews and ambiguity that followed the trilogy’s Broadway opening. His comments on the three plays that form the trilogy help show the playwright’s depiction of the “emptiness, despair and absurdity of small-town life.” Contains a photograph of actress Diane Ladd in Lu Ann Hampton Laverty Oberlander.
Kroll, Jack. “Texas Marksmanship.” Review of A Texas Trilogy, by Preston Jones. Newsweek, May 17, 1976, 95-96. Although the word “regionalism” has become outmoded in American culture, Kroll explains that regionalism, which is found in Jones’s drama, may be coming back, as “more and more Americans seek their identity close to home.” Kroll says that region extends beyond a physical area to become a “psychic and spiritual locale.” Photographs.