Connecting Texas books and writers with those who most want to discover them
Paula Forbes, with photography by Robert Strickland
Harry N. Abrams
Hardcover, 978-1419728938, 240 pages, $29.99
March 20, 2018
Reviewed by Angelina LaRue
Good food and Austin are synonymous. We often think of little restaurants around Austin with brightly colored oil cloths covering the tables. Fajitas sizzling on a hot cast iron plate, or long lines outside popular barbecue joints and food trucks, are all part of the Austin experience, as well.
We’re not even halfway through 2018, but two books already are vying for the title of most elegant Texas book of the year.
The first is Horses of the American West: Portrayals by Twenty-Four Artists by Heidi Brady and Scott White (Texas A&M University Press, $40 hardcover).
The second? Well, I’ll tell you about it next week.
Horses of the American West is a must-have coffee table book for anyone with a passion for horses.
Brady and White have pulled together works by ten painters, five photographers, six sculptors, and three pen or pencil artists into a remarkable collection sponsored by West Texas A&M University as the first book in its American Wests series.
The painters include Edgar Sotelo, Wayne Baize, Tim Cox, Dyrk Godby, William Matthews, Bob Moline, David Griffin, Mark Kohler, Kenneth Wyatt, and Donna Howell-Sickles.
Photographers represented are Bob Moorhouse, Ken Young, David Stoecklein, Peter Robbins, and Wyman Meinzer. Sculptors: Veryl Goodnight, Bruce Greene, Rick Jackson, Greg Kelsey, T. D. Kelsey, and Harold Holden. And drawings by Brenda Murphy, Brian Asher, and Woodrow Blagg round out the list.
Each artist is profiled and quoted extensively, with a selection of several of his or her works, most of them in color except for the black and white drawings.
“Many of the artists,” the authors write, “started as ranch hands who worked at night or in their spare time to produce their works of art. Others developed their skills in format art settings but were drawn to Western art because of the genuine qualities it encompasses.
“These artists come from an amazing variety of backgrounds and experiences, including rodeo cowboy, rancher, predator hunter, preacher, pilot, saddle maker, and singer-songwriter, among others.
“They display a wide range of personalities, from shy to very outgoing, but they share a common humility, a trait frequently observed in those with a deep appreciation for the way of life represented in these pages.”
The authors note that a common theme is the importance of the image of the horse – especially in motion.
“Since at least the days of Remington and Russell,” they write, “the dynamic and explosive action of the bucking horse, in particular, has been a recurrent theme in Western art. Many of these artists are drawn to the theme of the cowboy trying to control the powerful horse.”
The artists also share a passion for preserving Western heritage by paying attention to details, values, and traditions.
“As such, their great respect for the horse and its central role as a partner in this tradition is seen throughout the book,” Brady and White conclude.
Okay, one last chance at the prize, before National Poetry Month comes to an end April 30!
Admit it: bookfans love traveling almost as much as they love reading itself. Beginning March 4, 2018, Lone Star Literary Life will roll out #10 through #6 in our annual list of Top Texas Bookish Destinations, for readers who want to visit the settings of their favorite books, the birthplaces and haunts of favorite authors, and hot spots for book buying, readings, and other literary activity.
But throughout Texas’s 268,597 square miles, there are also lots of out-of-the-way points of interest that we don’t always have space to cover in our Top Ten pages.
Watch this space each week for a new bookish place that you’ll want to add to your own travel list. Be the first to email us with the correct identification, and win a prize!
This week, we continue with a bookish place that’s located in 2017’s #2 Top Bookish Destination. There’s plenty of poetry in this literary-rich city, but there’s a Poet Tree, too. Can you name the city? And extra credit for telling our readers the neighborhood or street where they can find it, too.
LAST MONTH’S PHOTO (below) was correctly identified as the Capitol Gift Shop, inside the state capitol building in Austin. Congratulations — your prize is on the way!
Hardcover, 978-1-3165-6168-6 (also available as an e-book and audio book), 432 pgs., $27.00
June 5, 2018
“These pages are compiled for everyone: those who lived through this time, and those who did not survive. I hope … they give you meaningful perspective.” (signature redacted)
A body exhibiting the sort of intradermal contusions affiliated with hemophilia, but no other signs of trauma, is discovered outside Nogales, Arizona. When the state crime lab reports unidentifiable substances in a hair sample from the body, the town coroner, fearing something Ebola-like, reports the curious findings to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). When Dr. Lauren Scott, a research physician with the CDC, arrives in Nogales, the first body is gone but another has been found with identical symptoms. Dr. Scott discovers two tiny puncture wounds in the neck of this second body.
What happened to the first body, you ask? It got up and walked out.
A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising: A Novel, the first book from San Antonio attorney Raymond A. Villareal, is apocalyptic dystopia, a very popular genre. Unfortunately, it reads like a mashup of “The Walking Dead,” “True Blood,” and The Da Vinci Code. >>READ MORE
Hardcover, 978-1-5011-3570-5 (also available as an e-book, an audio book, and on Audible), 336 pgs., $26.00; May 1, 2018
My mother thinks herself timid. This is incorrect. I confess to teenage contempt at what I (mis)perceived as weakness. In truth my mother was strong, knocked down by circumstances never contemplated or prepared for, and got back up, repeatedly. The most affecting passages in The Seasons of My Mother concern the transformation of the mother-daughter relationship into something closer to friendship. I think my mother and I are doing that now, acknowledging a more equal footing.
The Seasons of My Mother: A Memoir of Love, Family, and Flowers is the first book from actress Marcia Gay Harden, winner of an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Pollock (Sony Pictures, 2000). >>READ MORE
What are Texans reading these days, you ask? Lone Star Lit’s newest regular feature is a monthly list of trending titles at the a leading independent bookseller in San Antonio. Click on any title for the Buy link. And we'll also include a hotlink to related content in Lone Star Literary Life.
2 Paulo Coehlo, The Alchemist, 25th Anniversary Edition 978-0062390622
3 Jen Sincero, You Are a Badass 978-0762490547
4 Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 978-1400030842
5 Ernest Cline, Ready Player One 978-0307887436
6 Octavio Quintanilla, If I Go Missing 978-0941720359
7 Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God 978-0060199494
8 Laurie Ann Guerrero, A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying 978-0875656878
9 James Donovan, Blood of Heroes 978-0316053747
10 Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings 0375507892
K .CO Marketing + Innovation. Publicity, Marketing and Digital Strategy Agency • Advancing the Arts, Empowering Creatives • Personalized coaching, digital marketing and strategic PR and media planning for authors, publishers, bookstores and literary events. Based in Dallas, available for clients nationwide. Visit or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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In 1956 a movie called Giant depicted Texas in a larger-than-life narrative. Now, more than six decades years later, author Don Graham, one of Texas's premier chroniclers of culture, has published a book that shares fascinating back stories behind a film that continues to capture the imagination of the Lone Star State. Graham talked with Lone Star Lit via email about the myths and realities of the legendary film, and how he came to write about it.
LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE: Where did you grow up, Don, and how would you describe those days?
DON GRAHAM: I was born on a cotton farm in Collin County, near Lucas, a small community consisting of two churches, two stores, a cotton gin, and a school. My first three years of education were in that schoolhouse in Lucas, with eight grades in one room and high school in another. I learned a lot about Texas history, grammar, and perhaps less so, penmanship. Altogether, that world was as different from modern-day Collin County as one can imagine. When I was eight, my family moved to McKinney, and three or four years later, to Carrollton, where I attended high school. So my roots were both rural and suburban.
When did you first pursue being a writer, and what was the outcome?
I loved to read from very early on, and in college as an English major I wrote a lot of papers and later in grad school longer critical essays that I began to publish in scholarly journals. My dissertation on the writer Frank Norris was published, but I had grown tired of academic writing and in 1983 I wrote a very different kind of book, Cowboys and Cadillacs: How Hollywood Looks at Texas, in a personal voice.
What do you consider to be your first big break as an author?
Although by the late ’80s I had published a number of books, my 1989 biography, No Name on the Bullet: A Biography of Audie Murphy, published by Viking, marked a new, more national phase than small press or university press books about Westerns or Texas literature.
The Dallas Morning News has called you “Our premier scholar and critic on Texas literature, films and pop culture.” For years you have been a contributing editor at Texas Monthly and have written much about the Texas persona through art and culture. But perhaps, your most ambitious effort has been your latest book. Can you tell our readers about Giant: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Edna Ferber, and the Making of a Legendary American Film?
My new book is a narrative account of the personalities and talents that went into the success of this epic movie. Frankly, I find some film books boring because of their extensive coverage of script changes and the like, so I decided to concentrate on the drama of the private lives and the on-screen performances of both major and minor figures. >>READ MORE
SPECIAL EVENTS THIS WEEK
AUSTIN Mon., May 21 BookPeople, AMY CHOZICK speaking & signing Chasing Hillary (In Conversation with Mimi Swartz of Texas Monthly), 7PM
DALLAS Tues., May 22 Dallas Museum of Art, Arts & Letters Live presents award-winning author Michael Ondaatje discussing his new novel, Warlight, with author Bret Anthony Johnston, director of the Michener Center for Writers, 7:30PM
ALSO SIGNING IN HOUSTON St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, Brazos Bookstore presents Michael Ondaatje, 7PM [ticketed event]
DALLAS Tues., May 22 Half Price Books - The Mothership, Katherine Center reading and signing How to Walk Away, 7PM [numbered-pass event]
ALSO SIGNING IN SAN ANTONIO Wed., May 23 The Twig Book Shop, 5PM
ALSO SIGNING IN AUSTIN Thurs., May 24 BookPeople, 7PM
DECATUR Tues., May 22 Decatur Public Library, Julia Heaberlin reading and signing Paper Ghosts, 6:30PM
WESLACO Tues., May 22 Mayor Joe V. Sanchez Public Library, The Storybook Garden hosts award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes to talk about her books, including her latest, GHOST BOYS, 6:30PM
BOERNE Wed., May 23 Herff-Rozelle Farm, German author Barbara Ortwein will discuss At Journey's End: Texas Forever, the final book in her Texas Saga Trilogy, 10:30AM
SAN ANTONIO Wed., May 23 San Antonio Country Club, Lewis Fisher will join the San Antonio Bibilophiles Club to discuss his newest book, Maverick: The American Name That Became a Legend, 10:30AM
AUSTIN Sun., May 27 Malvern Books, Readings from Donna M. Johnson’s Personal Narrative Workshop, 4PM
Boldface Conference, which bills itself as the only conference in the U.S.A. dedicated to emerging writers, is now open to registration at https://boldfaceconference.submittable.com/submit.
Hosted at the University of Houston Creative Writing Department May 21–25, 2018, and sponsored by the Glass Mountain literary journal, the conference invites writers to experience daily workshops, readings, craft talks, social events, and professionalism panels in an intimate and supportive environment designed specifically with the needs of emerging writers in mind. >>READ MORE
ABILENE — The official Storybook Capital of Texas is celebrating all things Oliver Jeffers at the seventh annual Children’s Art & Literacy Festival (CALF), from lost penguins to a moose named Marcel to fed-up crayons who quit and travel the world!
The festival is June 7–9, 2018, in downtown Abilene and takes places at fourteen venues. One of those is the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature (the NCCIL), where the original artwork of Jeffers will go on display for the summer.
Compiled from media reports
Following allegations by a former student of inappropriate conduct — first reported in social and traditional media ten days ago — San Antonio writer Bryce Milligan will no longer manage Wings Press, the small publishing house he has run since 1995.
The author’s wife, Mary Guerrero Milligan, and daughter Brigid Milligan will manage and run the press in his place.
In a letter to Wings Press authors on Tuesday, Mary and Brigid Milligan announced the change of management.
“Since 1995, Wings Press has been a family-owned, independent small publishing house and going forward will be managed by Wings Press co-owners Mary Guerrero Milligan and Brigid Milligan,” they wrote. “Wings Press continues to be dedicated to producing multicultural literature that enlightens the human spirit and enlivens the mind.”
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 Summer 2018
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.
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