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Lone Star Reviews


Michael Hurd

Thursday Night Lights: The Story of Black High School Football in Texas

University of Texas Press

Hardcover, 978-1-4773-1034-2, 260 pages plus 49 b/w photos, appendixes, index; $24.95

October 2017

Reviewed by Chris Manno


Michael Hurd’s Thursday Night Lights is an important story wrapped up in a problematic book. In Texas, “Friday Night Lights” refers to the tradition of high school football on Friday nights, white student leagues only, not the black leagues that played on Thursday nights. Hurd does a commendable job crafting a historical narrative that reflects careful research and documentation — much of which appears in the appendices which, along with the introduction, make up a whopping 30% of what is already a fairly brief text, considering the years covered. That leaves the reader to wonder if the add-ons are redundant or recursive, a question that zeroes in on the primary flaw of Thursday Night Lights: either the factual information or the narrative itself is unsettled to the extent that readers need more substantiation than Hurd offers.


Still, I was captivated by the specifics of leaders and selfless players that populate the historical thread, men like Charles Brown and his wife Carolyn who not only fed his teams and laundered their uniforms in their own home, but also led team after team to championships with Coach Brown learning the job as he went. >>READ MORE



William D. Darling

Anahuac: A Texas Story

Canned Peas Productions

Paperback, 978-19746-4540-4 (also available as ebook), 278 pages, $14.99

October 2, 2017


Austin writer William D. Darling’s second novel, Anahuac, is an entertaining, engrossing legal thriller that offers both darkly humorous and good-natured thrusts at life, love, and law in early 1970s Texas. Some brief bits of Gulf Coast Texana also help set the scenes.


A young lawyer takes on a case that snowballs into a death-penalty murder trial in Chambers County, just after he has gone into private law practice in La Porte with his barely reliable best friend and the best friend’s stunning wife. >>READ MORE


Texas Reads

>> archive


Story collection offers a treat for Elmer Kelton fans


Fans of the late Elmer Kelton are in for a treat.

      Wild West, a new collection of eleven of Kelton’s earliest short stories from the 1950s, has been published by Forge Books (366 pages, $27.99 hardcover). The stories, which gave the author his start as a fiction writer, originally appeared in some of the western “pulp fiction” magazines like Ranch Romances, Six-Gun Western, and Triple Western.

       “I was fortunate to come along a few years before the end of the pulp-magazine era,” Kelton wrote in his autobiography, Sandhills Boy. “They were good training for beginning writers as well as bread and butter for many prolific professionals.”

       The pulps began dying off in the late 1950s as TV replaced short stories as a source of entertainment. Kelton turned to writing novels and eventually wrote more than forty of them, while also working full-time as an agricultural journalist in San Angelo for forty-two years.

       The stories in Wild West — ranging from eleven pages to more than fifty pages — have never been collected in one volume. Kelton, winner of seven Spur Awards, died in 2009 at age 83. In 1995 his fellow western authors voted him the best western writer of all time.


Mavericks fans: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban writes the foreword to Tim Cato’s book 100 Things Maverick Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die (Triumph Books, $14.95 paperback).

       Listed Number 1 is “Dirk Nowitzki Means Everything,” and Cuban certainly agrees, calling Nowitzki “the best player on the court and the coolest person off of it that I’ve ever seen.”

       Number 2 on Cato’s list is “2011 Was Different,” the year Dallas won the NBA championship.

       Number 3 is “Mark Cuban” and Number 100 is “An Oral History of the 24 Hours After the 2011 Finals.”

       In between, Cato covers a lot of games and names, including Steve Nash, Rolando Blackman, Don Nelson, Rick Carlisle, Jason Kidd, Roy Tarpley, and the 20 three-pointers made in the 2011 “Mother’s Day Massacre” playoff win over the Lakers, 122–86.

       It’s not just the good years that get ink in the book. Number 85 is “The 11-Win Season,” when Dallas almost set a record for ineptitude in 1993, losing seventy-one games while winning just eleven. Cato rehashes all eleven wins that year.


Glenn Dromgoole’s latest book is West Texas Stories. Contact him at g.dromgoole@suddenlink.net.


>> Check out his previous Texas Reads columns in Lone Star Literary Life


Friends of the Amarillo Public Library put the ”fun” in fund-raising with 7th annual Books to Broadway evening


AMARILLO — Kids’ Lit on Broadway was the theme of a bookish evening of entertainment Nov. 2 benefiting the Amarillo Public Library. In addition to a silent auction featuring ingeniously paired books and gifts, and free desserts, audiences were treated to a revue of musical selections performed by WTAMU singers Candace Carpenter, Peyton Kane, and Jayson Sanderson (ensemble member Christopher Meerdink had to bow out due to illness) and accompanist Jan Waller under the direction of Robert Hanson, director of music at West Texas A&M University.


The delightful program included songs from from children’s books that became Broadway musicals such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Secret Garden, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, The Lion King, Seussical: The Musical, Finding Neverland, and Oliver. The audience was invited t sing along during perennial favorite "Tomorrow" from Annie, the musical inspired by the Little Orphan Annie comics. Library director Stacy Yates emceed the event.  >>READ MORE





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Roger D. Hodge

Texas Blood: Seven Generations Among the Outlaws, Ranchers, Indians, Missionaries, Soldiers, and Smugglers of the Borderlands

Alfred A. Knopf

Hardcover, 978-0-3079-6140-2 (also available as an e-book and an audiobook), 368 pgs., $28.95

October 10, 2017


Texas, with its expanses of still-wild vistas, lends itself to the mythical. Historical attempts to settle and tame the borderlands have often proved ephemeral. The evidence is found in pictographs and petroglyphs (“North America’s oldest surviving books”) throughout the Trans-Pecos. But Rodger D. Hodge’s family, arriving in the Devils River country in the second half of the nineteenth century, settled and stayed. Why? Why this land? What possessed them to choose such a forbidding landscape, which remains “fantastically inaccessible,” on which to stake their future, working Brangus cattle, Rambouillet sheep, and Angora goats?


When he was named editor of Harper’s Magazine in 2006, Hodge was surprised to be described as a “Texan” by a New York Times reporter. “I never expected to be a professional Texan,” he writes, “one of those writers who wear the lone star like a brand.”  >>READ MORE


James Ward Lee

The Girls of the Golden West: A Novel

Texas Christian University Press

Paperback, 978-0-8756-5677-9 (also available as an e-book and in hardcover), 224 pgs., $22.95

September 11, 2017


Ninety-five-year-old John Quincy Adams the Second (no relation) is contentedly living his “platinum years” in fictional Bodark Springs, Texas. Wealthy due to inheritance, and rich due to a long career teaching English and history, John Q. opens his door one evening in 1971 to doctoral student Annie Baxter on his doorstep. Armed with a grant from the Texas State Historical Association and the Texas Folklore Society, Baxter wants to interview John Q. for an oral history of Northeast Texas. John Q., startled by Annie’s resemblance to Elizabeth Denney, his lost love of forty years ago, reluctantly agrees to participate in the project, with one proviso: Baxter must content herself with John Q.’s tales of others; his personal history is off limits.


Edward, a lawyer and John Q.’s oldest son, knows his father has secrets. John Q. did spend two years in California soon after the murder of his father and uncle. But Edward doesn’t know the facts and, suspicious of Baxter’s sudden appearance (“secret agent or a blackmailer or maybe a hit woman”), is concerned his elderly father, reminded of the love of his life, will introduce the skeletons in his closets to the fetching Annie. When anonymous notes and phone calls arrive, obliquely referencing his secrets, John Q. worries he may be called to account for a blood feud that may not be over.  >>READ MORE

LONE STAR LISTENS interviews   >> archive

11.19.2017  Chef and cookbook author Adán Medrano invites readers to savor Texas Mexican flavors for the holidays

In just three short years at Lone Star Literary Life, we’ve developed a lot of traditions and recurring features. One of our mouth-watering favorites featuring a cookbook author as the front-page Lone Star Listens feature on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. For 2017 our cookbook author and chef is Houston resident Adán Medrano, who has traveled extensively before returning home to Texas seven years ago to turn his time and attention to researching and gathering the stories and recipes behind the food heritage known as Texas Mexican. After sampling is Carne con Chile at the Lubbock Book Festival a few weeks ago — where he presented a cooking demonstration and luncheon in partnership with cookbook author Angelina LaRue and food prepared by Texas Tech’s Top Tier Catering — we spoke with him this week via email about cooking and writing and he even shared a recipe with us for Thanksgiving.


LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE: Where did you grow up, Adán, and how do you think it influenced you? As a chef? As an author?


I grew up on the Westside of San Antonio, Texas, the economically poor side of the city, in a house that my father, Juan, constructed with his own hands and those of our extended family: uncles aunts, cousins. My mom, Dominga, owned land with pecan orchards in Nava, Coahuila, just twenty-five miles south of the Rio Grande, by Eagle Pass, so we’d constantly drive back and forth between our two homes and, eating along the way, that’s how I learned the tastes and aromas of Texas Mexican cuisine. River fish blackened on a skillet, avocados plucked straight from the trees, and eating them with just a sprinkle of salt, smashed onto a steaming fresh corn tortilla. Pecans, mesquite, roasted meats, salsas with chile de arbol (thin, dried aromatic chile) — to this day, those tastes, the nuances and honesty of food, guide my cooking, my recipes and writing.


You took quite a different path to becoming a chef and ultimately, a cookbook author. After getting your master’s from UT in broadcast and film, you worked in film, including forming the first Latino Film Festival in San Antonio. What inspired you to make the transition from visual arts to culinary arts?


To move from a filmmaker to a cook was natural and effortless for me. I love making food and film because both are powerful carriers of our identity. Both are cultural expressions of who we are. Both are fun. To me, a shared movie/media is where we collectively dream, and the dining table is where those dreams are affirmed and nourished.  >>READ MORE


Texas's only statewide, weekly calendar of book events
Bookish Texas event highlights  11.19.2017
>> GO this week   Michelle Newby, Contributing Editor



  • Odessa Shakespeare Festival, November 17-18
  • 2017 Wizard World Comic Con Austin, November 17-19


RICHARDSON  Mon., Nov. 20  Richardson Public Library, Writers Guild of Texas workshop: “Artistry in Citizenship: Building, Growing, and Sustaining Literary Community” with Joe Milazzo, 7PM


AUSTIN  Tues., Nov. 21 BookPeople, Jesse Sublett speaking & signing Esther’s Follies, 7PM


SAN ANTONIO  Tues., Nov. 21 The Twig Book Shop, Andrea Eames reads and signs The White Shadow and The Cry of the Go-Away Bird, 5PM


Wednesday, Nov. 22 No public events; go home and read a cookbook (see our interview today with Adán Medrano)


Thursday, Nov. 23 Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!


AUSTIN  Fri., Nov. 24 Cherrywood Coffeehouse, METAPHORICALLY CHALLENGED 3: Thanksgiving Special Hosted by TPB + open mic, 7PM


Saturday, Nov. 25  INDIES FIRST: Numerous Texas booksellers host special events and sales


HOUSTON  Sat., Nov. 25  Black Labrador Pub, Fuente Collective presents "Coptic Stitch Bookbinding: A Creative Introduction" with Layla Al-Bedawi, 11AM

SAN ANTONIO  Fri., Nov. 25   The Twig Book Shop, Lewis Fisher signs Maverick: The American Name That Became a Legend, 11AM



News Briefs 11.19.17

PW notes Blue Willow Bookshop’s Harvey benefit for Small Business Saturday, Nov. 25

Booksellers across state and nation tout “Indies First"


FROM PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, 11.20.17 — Independent booksellers around the country are prepping for what is likely to be one of the most important shopping days of the year: November 25, otherwise known as Small Business Saturday. Last year, 112 million people made purchases from small businesses on Small Business Saturday, according to American Express, which backs the promotion.


Independent booksellers have also been calling the day Indies First since 2013, when author Sherman Alexie enlisted more 1,000 writers to handsell books at their local independent bookstores on Small Business Saturday. Five years later, the emphasis is as much on community marketing and special promotions as on authors handselling books. >>READ MORE


7th Annual Laredo Book Festival set for Dec. 9


The 7th Annual Laredo Book Festival will feature Matt de la Peña, a New York Times bestselling, Newbery Medal–winning author of six young adult novels (Mexican WhiteBoy, The Living and The Hunted) and two picture books (A Nation’s Hope and Last Stop on Market Street).


Sponsored by the Laredo Public Library and the Friends of the Laredo Public Library, the event will take place at the Joe A. Guerra/Laredo Public Library at 1120 E. Calton Road on Saturday, Dec. 9 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  >>READ MORE


 ——­——— A D V E R T I S E M E N T —————

Lone Star Listens compilation available fall 2017, for readers, fans, and writers everywhere


The present generation of Texas authors is the most diverse ever in gender, age, and ethnicity, and in subject matter as well.


Week in, week out, Lone Star Literary has interviewed a range of Texas-related authors with a cross-section of genre and geography. To capture this era in Texas letters, we're pleased to bring you


Lone Star Listens:

Texas Authors on Writing and Publishing

edited by Kay Ellington and Barbara Brannon; introduction by

Clay Reynolds

Available in trade paper, library hardcover, and ebook Fall 2017

360 pages, with b/w illustrations and index


Featuring novelists, poets, memoirists, editors, and publishers, including:

Rachel  Caine • Chris  Cander • Katherine  Center • Chad S. Conine • Sarah  Cortez • Elizabeth  Crook • Nan  Cuba • Carol  Dawson • Patrick  Dearen • Jim Donovan • Mac Engel • Sanderia  Faye • Carlos Nicolás Flores • Ben Fountain • Jeff  Guinn • Stephen  Harrigan • Cliff  Hudder • Stephen Graham Jones • Kathleen Kent • Joe R. Lansdale • Melissa Lenhardt • Attica Locke • Nikki  Loftin • Thomas  McNeely • Leila  Meacham • John  Pipkin • Joyce Gibson Roach • Antonio  Ruiz-Camacho • Lisa  Sandlin • Donna  Snyder • Mary Helen Specht • Jodi  Thomas • Amanda Eyre Ward • Ann  Weisgarber • Donald Mace Williams


As a collection of insights into the writing and publishing life, the book will be useful in creative writing classes (not just in Texas alone) and other teaching settings, as well as for solo reading and study—and a great Texas reference volume.


  • Examination and review copies will be available fall 2017 in watermarked pdf format.










10.29.17  Finally — the writing community you’ve been searching for! Are you looking for experienced, published authors who will read your work, give you credible feedback, and help you on your path to publishing—affordably and efficiently?


Come be a part of the first-ever Paragraph Ranch Writers’ Workshop, brought to you from the creators of Lone Star Literary Life. This weekend workshop, Dec. 1–3, 2017, led by popular fantasy author Tex Thompson, will support writers in the development of their voices and the practice of their craft. Located in a picturesque Western setting in the caprock country of Spur, Texas, this retreat welcomes writers of all ages, levels of experience, and genres.


All lodging and meals are included (with optional discount for shared or off-site lodging).


Email info@lonestarliterary.com or for more information visit www.lonestarpublicity.com/product-page/paragraph-ranch-writers-weekend-2017-with-tex-thompson




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Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill Visit with Robert through Nov. 30, 2017

11/19/17 Audio Clip Hall Ways Blog

11/20/17 Author Interview 1 Texan Girl Reads

11/21/17 Review Tangled in Text

11/22/17 Promo Chapter Break Book Blog

11/27/17 Excerpt Texas Book Lover

11/28/17 Review The Page Unbound

11/29/17 Author Interview 2 Syd Savvy

11/30/17 Review Forgotten Winds



Lamar’s Folly by Jeffrey Stuart Kerr Visit with Jeffrey through Nov. 23, 2017

11/19/17 Promo Books and Broomsticks

11/20/17 Review The Librarian Talks

11/21/17 Author Interview The Page Unbound

11/22/17 Review Reading by Moonlight



To Marry a Texas Outlaw by Linda Broday Visit with Linda through Nov. 19, 2017

11/19/17 Scrapbook Page Reading by Moonlight



Bombshell by Pamela Fagan Hutchins



Too Far Down by Mary Connealy



One Night in Sixes by Arianne “Tex” Thompson



Chicano Soul (10th ed.) by Ruben Molina

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