UTPB to celebrate book release

UT Permian Basin will host an event to celebrate the release of “Boom or Bust: Narrative, Life and Culture from the West Texas Oil Patch” at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Train Car Cigar Bar, 100 Main St., in Big Spring.

The book is a collection of narratives and articles edited by Sheena B. Stief, Kristen L. Figgins, and Rebecca Day Babcock. Stief is also a Big Spring native. The authors and editors will discuss the book, its creation, and their stories.

Stief, a lecturer for the Department of Literature and Languages, said the book stems from a project called Boom or Bust funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Jason Lagapa, a former UTPB professor, and Rebecca Babcock, a professor in the Department of Literature and Languages, got the grant.

Stief said it was a way to get out into the community and talk to people about the booms, busts and energy of the Permian Basin.

Lagapa led writing workshops where participants wrote about their experiences in the oilfield whether it was working in it, having a family member in it or being on the outside and living in the Basin with it “being such a high-energy place,” Stief added.

There are academic writings from the Rice Energy Humanities Center, as well.

Marfa Public Radio broadcast the stories and Babcock said it went over well.

“People really enjoyed that so when we decided to put the material together in the book we thought well we really like scholarly works, but we really like these narratives so let’s do something unique that we don’t think has ever been done before and let’s combine scholarly works and personal narratives together in the same volume, on the same topic so we invited the people who read on the radio and some other people to write their narratives and contribute and then we invited scholars to contribute,” Babcock said.

UTPB professor Diana Davids Hinton wrote a history piece and Mark Wildermuth penned a piece on film. Babcock said most everyone who contributed, except those from Rice, has ties to UTPB.

People can order it online through Amazon or through the University of Oklahoma Press, Babcock said.

Stief said this was the first project she had done like this.

“I thought it was a great experience. We worked just on the book portion for around three years for it to finally get out there, so I learned a lot about the whole process of getting a book published and work out there and talking and collecting and all of that fun stuff,” she said. “It was certainly a labor of love.”