Connecting Texas books and writers with those who most want to discover them
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Hardcover, 978-0-544-14849-9 (ebook also available), 348 pgs., $28.00; April 5, 2016
Reviewed by Si Dunn
No matter where on Earth you play golf, Harvey Penick likely has had influence on how you pursue the game.
Nearly twenty-five years after its first publication, Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book remains the top-selling golf instruction book of all time. The New York Times once hailed it as “the golfer’s equivalent of The Elements of Style.”
Harvey Morrison Penick (1904–1995) spent most of his life close to home in Austin, at the Austin Country Club’s golf course. He started out there in 1912 as a young caddy and worked his way up to being named the country club’s head professional golfer in 1923, a position he would hold until he “retired” in 1971.
I never made it to the Texas Prison Rodeo in Huntsville, but it was quite an event when I was growing up in Southeast Texas. My dad was a Baptist preacher and he thought our family had better things to do on Sundays than go to a rodeo.
The event, billed as the “World’s Fastest and Wildest Rodeo,” started in 1931 and continued until 1986, staged on Sunday afternoons in October and drawing 30,000 spectators at its peak.
Mitchel P. Roth, a historian who teaches criminology and criminal justice at Sam Houston State University, has produced the first comprehensive history of the rodeo — Convict Cowboys: The Untold History of the Texas Prison Rodeo (University of North Texas Press, $32.95 hardcover). Thoroughly researched and compellingly written, the 436-page book deals with the history of the prison system in Texas as well as the rodeo itself and the many guest celebrities who performed there.
Three teams, one season, too many commas: Author Nick Eatman had written two books about Texas football — one on the Dallas Cowboys and a biography of former Baylor coach Art Briles. For his third book, he decided he would spend a season following three teams — a high school team, a college team, and a pro team. Quite an undertaking.
The result is Friday, Saturday, Sunday in Texas: A Year in the Life of Lone Star Football, From High School to College to the Cowboys (Dey Street, $26.99 hardcover). The three teams Eatman selected to follow through the 2015 season were the Plano Wildcats, the Baylor Bears, and the Dallas Cowboys, all with very high hopes for the season.
Things didn’t quite work out for any of the teams. Plano, despite a highly touted running back, struggled. The Cowboys collapsed after quarterback Tony Romo broke his collarbone, twice. Baylor’s championship dreams were dashed when its top two quarterbacks suffered season-ending injuries, and then the program’s very existence was suddenly in jeopardy.
Even so, if you like football, Eatman’s behind-the-scenes stories make interesting reading. Each chapter chronicles a week in the life of all three teams, beginning with high school on Fridays, college on Saturdays and pro on Sundays.
However, I must add that Eatman and his editors at Dey Street, an imprint of mega publisher HarperCollins, allowed annoying comma mistakes to permeate the book — so many that when I read an advanced copy, I emailed the publicist and was assured they would be fixed in the final, edited version. They weren't.
To cite just one example, and they are numerous: “During the football season, the only time you might catch Dallas head coach, Jason Garrett, watching any television….” Of course, there shouldn’t be commas before and after Jason Garrett. If there had been a “the” in front of “Dallas head coach,” then the commas would be appropriate. Otherwise, it should read “Dallas head coach Jason Garrett” without commas.
Glenn Dromgoole is co-author of 101 Essential Texas Books. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AUSTIN — The Texas Book Festival is excited to host a lineup filled with nationally renowned presenters, including Don DeLillo, Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Diana Kennedy, Thomas Dolby, Emma Cline, Padma Lakshmi, Amor Towles, Francine Prose, Lawrence Wright, Phoebe Robinson, Jane Alexander, Robert Olen Butler, Jon Klassen, R.L. Stine, and more. The 2016 TBF weekend takes place on November 5 and 6, spread throughout the grounds of the Texas State Capitol and along Austin’s iconic Congress Avenue.
Award-winning authors are found throughout the TBF lineup, including literary legend Don DeLillo, an American novelist, playwright, and essayist well known for such acclaimed works as White Noise and Under-world, whose subjects range from television and sports to nuclear war and perfor-mance art. Co-presented by the TBF and the Harry Ransom Center, DeLillo will appear in conversation with author and screenwriter Noah Hawley about DeLillo’s latest novel, Zero K, at the Festival.
“We are hosting some big marquee names this year, and it’s exciting to see the trend of prominent artists—actors, comedians, performance artists—writing books,” says Lois Kim, the Festival’s executive director. “But one of the best things about our deep and diverse lineup is the opportunity for discovery. There is so much talent in this list, and we can’t wait for people to dive in and find their next favorite author at the Festival, which is free to attend, thanks to the Festival’s generous supporters and dedicated volunteer army.”
A total of more than 280 writers, including chefs, actors, YouTube-stars, and more, are part of the 2016 Texas Book Festival lineup. One of the nation’s premier literary events and longest-running book festivals in the country, the Festival continues to be free and open to the public thanks to sponsors and volunteers. Additionally, the Festival brings more than 40,000 attendees, live music, kids’ activities, food trucks, book signings and sales, and 100 exhibitors all in and around the State Capitol over two full days. >>READ MORE
Piñata Books (an imprint of Arte Público Press)
Paperback, 978-1-55885-828-2, 132 pgs., $11.95; May 30, 2016
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? —Mary Oliver
Abram is seventeen, living with his grandmother in San Antonio. His father died when he was three years old — no one will tell him how or why — and his devastated and overwhelmed mother left soon after. Abram has had four fights and two suspensions this school year, and it’s not yet Thanksgiving. His grandmother is distraught; she worries that Abram needs a man to model male adulthood for him, that her example, love, and care cannot suffice. She lost Abram’s father; she will not lose him, too. Enter Tío Claudio, bombastic, volatile, manipulative, and avaricious.
Bloodline is the debut novel from Joe Jiménez. This slim volume of young adult fiction is rich in emotion and language, diving deep into the perilous psychological territory of violence, harboring a final plot twist that caused me to fall silent and still. >>READ MORE
Texas Christian University Press. Paperback, 978-0-87565-636-6, 224 pgs., $22.95; September 16, 2016
Robert Seltzer’s father was the journalist and short story writer Chester Seltzer, who wrote under the pseudonym Amado Muro. Most readers never knew he was Anglo. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Chester was afflicted, or blessed, with a powerful case of wanderlust. During his wanderings, he fell in love with Mexico. Later he married a Mexican woman, Amada Muro, whose family fled the Mexican Revolution for the safety of El Paso.
A man born to money and privilege, Chester was an iconoclast who rejected these values, finding his compatriots in society’s alienated. “[My father] did not just write his short stories,” Robert writes, “he lived them. . . . A kind of latter-day Jack London . . . he rode the rails throughout the Southwest, writing about men who never saw the good times that followed the Great Depression.” >>READ MORE
Entering its third decade, the Texas Book Festival connects authors and readers through experiences that celebrate the culture of literacy, ideas, and imagination. This year, the Festival will host nearly 300 authors, and it regularly attracts more than 40,000 attendees to the grounds and environs of the state capitol building in Austin.
Executive director Lois Kim and her team oversee this massive undertaking each year, and she took time Friday evening via email to share a bit about herself, the Festival, and what’s in store for this year’s event Nov. 5 and 6.
LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE: Lois, How long have you lived in Texas, and what brought you to the Lone Star state?
LOIS KIM: Just over twenty-three years. I moved to Austin in the very hot summer of 1993 to start graduate school in the English literature program at UT Austin and never left.
What surprised you about the state when you arrived here?
I had never been to Texas before I moved here. I was surprised by how addicting it was to say y’all and how natural it felt for a Korean-American northerner to just adopt it as my own, along with everything else Austinites take as a birthright: authenticity and good queso. >>READ MORE
What more ideal place could there be to sign our Paragraph Ranch novels — and copies of Literary Texas — than the amazing Paragraphs on Padre Island bookstore at the beach? Below, Lone Star Lit's Kay Ellington (left) and Barbara Brannon were greeted by a full house of bookfans — and the two bookstore canines as a welcoming committee.
Stop in and say hi to owner Griff Magnan (left) next time you're on vacation at SPI. Griff and Joni will hook you up with beach reads, Texas fiction and nonfiction, children's books, games, and a delicious cup of coffee. >>READ MORE
Author Pat Mora has been named the winner of the Texas Institute of Letters’ prestigious Lon Tinkle Award for Lifetime Achievement. This is the highest honor given by the TIL, which was established in 1936 to recognize distinctive literary achievement. The award will be presented to Mora at the TIL’s annual banquet, set for April 8, 2017, in El Paso.
“Pat Mora is one of the most beloved and acclaimed writers from Texas,” TIL President Steve Davis said. “It was a joyful occasion when the TIL council voted unanimously to honor Pat with this award.”. >>READ MORE
The Texas Center for the Book has announced the 2016 Letters About Literature Contest for students in grades 4 through 12. Prizes include a trip to the 2107 Texas Library Association Annual Conference in San Antonio and a trip to the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.
Here are some simple guidelines.
READ: Select a fiction or nonfiction book, a poem or play you have read and about which you have strong feelings. (Sorry, no song lyrics!) It might be a book that helped you through a difficult time or it might be a book that simply touched your heart or inspired you. >>READ MORE
On Friday evening, Nov. 4, the smell of simmering chili and freshly baked pan de campo will once again fill the air as visitors converge on historic Oakville for the 6th annual Dobie Dichos: Campfires, Chili con Carne, and the Words of J. Frank Dobie event.
A group of renowned journalists, authors, and storytellers have delved into the works of Texas author J. Frank Dobie and selected stories and other Dobie writings to share beside the campfire at this unique event that takes place on the grounds of the Historic Oakville Jail, under the old hanging tree. >>READ MORE
FORT WORTH—Art on the Boulevard is proud to present its fifth annual Art & Words Collaborative Show, to run October 1-8, 2016 with a reception and reading from 6:30-9:30 PM on Saturday, October 1.
The Art & Words Show will feature twelve writers and twelve visual artists responding to one another’s work. Each writer and each artist originally submitted one of their works in March of 2016. Each writer then chose a piece of visual art from those submitted to use as inspiration for a second story or poem, and vice versa with each visual artist choosing a poem or short story to use as inspiration for a second visual work. The resulting show consists of all 24 pairings of art and words for a total of 48 works displayed. >>READ MORE
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