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Lone Star Reviews


J. Reeder Archuleta

The El Paso Red Flame Gas Station and Other Stories

Dog Ear Publishing

Paperback, 978-1-4575-5919-8 (also available as an e-book), 132 pages, $9.99; December 2017


Where most of us might see only dry, windy, hardscrabble land, Far West Texas native J. Reeder Archuleta can see beauty. Of course, it's beauty that can turn harsh and unforgiving if you forget to pay much attention to the vast sky sweeping overhead.


Likewise, we might notice a few weathered, seemingly nondescript people if we stopped for gas in a small town near the Texas–New Mexico border. Archuleta, however, would see human stories spanning much of life’s emotions and experiences.


The El Paso Red Flame Gas Station and Other Stories, Archuleta's second book, is an absorbing coming-of-age tale that unfolds within a collection of eight short stories. Set in the 1950s and ’60s, in a small town that is not named, the stories have changing viewpoints and changing casts of interconnected characters. Yet one figure is present in each story — an abandoned child named Josh, who grows into manhood over the course of this well-written collection.  >>READ MORE


Texas Reads

>> archive


New biography profiles Pearl Harbor hero Doris Miller


Doris Miller was an “improbable American hero,” write authors Thomas W. Cutrer and T. Michael Parrish in Doris Miller: Pearl Harbor and the Birth of the Civil Rights Movement (Texas A&M University Press, $24.95 hardcover). Because of racial segregation, Miller was assigned to the Navy’s mess branch, as a waiter for white officers. And that’s what he was doing on Dec. 7, 1941, when Japanese bombers attacked Pearl Harbor.


Miller “stepped onto the bridge of his ship, the USS West Virginia,” they write, “where he moved his mortally wounded captain to a place of greater safety and then manned a Browning .50-caliber gun, a weapon in which he — in common with all of his fellow messmen — had no training. He continued firing at the swarming bombers and torpedo planes until he was out of ammunition and ordered to abandon the sinking ship.”


Miller’s heroics earned him the Navy Cross, “the first black sailor ever so decorated.” After a speaking and bond promotion tour in the U.S., Miller returned to active duty and was killed in action on Nov. 23, 1943, when his ship was torpedoed and sunk.


Cutrer and Parrish tell Miller’s life story in about 100 pages plus footnotes and point out that Miller’s true story, while certainly heroic, was not quite as dramatic as the way he was portrayed in the 2001 movie Pearl Harbor, starring Cuba Gooding Jr. as Miller shooting down enemy planes from the USS Arizona. Movie critic Jess Caigle, formerly of Abilene and now editor of People magazine, wrote at the time that the movie “reaches for historical accuracy — at least until it gets in the way of the main story.”


But, the authors note, Miller’s actions and resulting fame “developed in Congress and in the armed services a greater awareness and sensitivity to the attitudes, talents, aspirations, and loyalties of black men and women to their country,” which helped launch the Civil Rights movement.



Vietnam era novel: Lubbock screenwriter and author C. David Stephens keeps the action flowing in his novel, Every Mother’s Son (Llano Estacado Publishing, $15.99 paperback), set in 1969 in the small fictional West Texas town of Preston.


The story revolves around three principal characters. Kevin Frazier has just returned from combat in Vietnam. Meanwhile, his best friend and fellow football star Bobby Dalton is about to be shipped out. Bobby’s steady girlfriend, Amy Evans, decides to give her beau a special going-away present, and Kevin promises to take care of her while Bobby is in Vietnam.


But, of course, things get complicated, and Amy and Kevin — and their friends and families -— are caught up in the fallout.

* * * * *

Glenn Dromgoole has been writing his Texas Reads column since 2002, focusing on Texas books and authors. Contact him at g.dromgoole@suddenlink.net.


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


* * * * *




Can you name this literary place in the Lone Star State?


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.


Email us at info@LoneStarLiterary.com with the specific right answer, and we'll send you a free copy of Literary Texas.



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!






J. Todd Scott

High White Sun: A Novel

G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Hardcover, 978-0-3991-7635-7, (also available as an e-book and as an audio-book), 480 pgs., $26.00

March 20, 2018


The trouble begins with a traffic stop gone wrong, then the driver running down a sheriff’s deputy and leading most of the department on a high-speed chase across the desert on US90, just north of Big Bend National Park. The mystery begins when spike strips end the chase, and the out-of-state driver recognizes Sheriff Chris Cherry’s newest deputy, America Reynosa, calling her “La chica con la pistola.”


Meanwhile, when the body of a local river guide turns up beaten to death in Terlingua, the local law learns the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT) has arrived in the county, awaiting the arrival of a white-supremacist “preacher” bent on race war, with plans to build an all-Anglo town. What the ABT doesn’t know is they not only have a mole in their midst, but one of them is a federal witness, an informer.  >>READ MORE


William Middleton

Double Vision: The Unerring Eye of Art World Avatars Dominique and John de Menil

Alfred A. Knopf

Hardcover, 978-0-3754-1543-2, (also available as an e-book), 784 pgs., $40.00; March 27, 2018

“I’m after the excitement not the object per se—after the light, not the bulbs. I’d like to provide for people plenty of bulbs to switch on.” —Dominique de Menil


Y’all know that old question asking who you’d invite to your dinner party if you could invite anyone you wanted? I’d invite Dominique and John de Menil.


Born in France at the beginning of the twentieth century, they came to Houston, Texas, in the early 1940s with the family oilfield services multinational that would become Schlumberger Limited. John de Menil was a baron; Dominique the heir to Schlumberger, descended from a distinguished line of French intellectuals, important to the governments of kings and emperors. Over the decades, the de Menils built the Menil Collection, the Rothko Chapel, the Byzantine Fresco Chapel, and the Cy Twombly Gallery, and underwrote the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. Their personal collection exceeded 20,000 works of art, including paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, rare books, and decorative objects.  >>READ MORE


From the spur of Texas’s boot-heel to the tip of the toe, we’ve traveled the state in search of some delectable destinations for book lovers. Check out three honorable mentions on our 2018 list this week, as you make your own bookish travel plans. >>READ MORE


LONE STAR LISTENS interviews   >> archive

3.18.2018  TIL 2018 inductee Guadalupe Garcia McCall translates the wonder of the world — and world literature — into stories that resonate with young adult readers



Award-winning Latina Young Adult author Guadalupe Garcia McCall’s fourth book, All the Stars Denied, will be published in May 2018, making spring quite busy for the San Antonio–area author — as she’ll also be inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters the first week of April. Born in Mexico, McCall immigrated to the U.S. with her family when she was six and grew up in Eagle Pass, Texas. Lone Star Lit caught up with McCall over the weekend via email and learned about her life of two cultures, her path to publishing, and the joy of being honored for her work.


LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE: You were born in Mexico, and then your family moved to Eagle Pass, Texas, when you were six. How would you describe those early days, and what was it like growing up in Eagle Pass?


GUADALUPE GARCIA McCALL: Those early days were filled with all kinds of sensory images; they echoed my emotions. En los estados unidos, the sights and sounds of children wearing such nice clothes and speaking in a crisp, clear language blended in with the smell of fried chicken, an unknown yet intriguing aroma wafting from the Golden Fried Chicken when we got on the city bus at the corner of Commercial and Main. That scent filtered into the bus and mingled with the sound of my sweaty legs slipping around on the plastic seats on hot summer days.


I was so young, that my little heart ached with fear and hope and love and hate. I was afraid of not learning “the English,” as my father called it, but I was also full of the hope that I saw in my mother’s eyes when she registered my sister Alicia and me in school. I loved my parents and siblings, but I hated being separated from my guelita and tías in Mexico. At first, I had a hard time in school because I was mistakenly put in a monolingual class. After a few weeks, the school called a meeting with my parents and it was discovered that I was a Spanish speaker and a recent immigrant, and I needed to go to Ms. Nuñez’s class. Everything was good after that. The bilingual program was so strong and I was very studious, so I flourished in school.    >>READ MORE


Texas's only statewide, weekly calendar of book events
Bookish Texas event highlights  3.18.2018
>> GO this week   Michelle Newby, Contributing Editor



  • Beall Poetry Festival, Waco, March 21-23
  • Houston Public Library Foundation 2nd Annual Beyond the Page Benefit Luncheon, March 22
  • New Visions, New Voices: Spring Playwriting Festival, Dallas, March 22-25
  • A Conference on the Tricentennial, San Antonio, March 23-24
  • Kidlit Marches for Kids: March for Our Lives, March 24
  • Teen Book Con, League City, March 24
  • Galveston Island Book Festival, March 24
  • WORDfest, Hurst, March 24
  • 2nd Annual "Write This Way" Indie Author Fest, Dallas, March 24


ABILENE  Mon., Mar. 19  Abilene Public Library, Texas Author Series: Melissa Lenhardt, 12PM


SAN ANTONIO  Mon., Mar. 19   San Antonio Public Library - Landa, Women's History Month: author Kelly Grey Carlisle presents "Pistol-Packing Annie, A Frenchwoman, and the Women's Army Corps", 6PM


CANYON  Tues., Mar. 20 Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, WTAMU's Center for the Study of the American West presents award-winning Western author John Erickson speaking on "Prairie Gothic: Writing Regional History", 7:30PM


SAN ANTONIO  Tues., Mar. 20 Hotel Emma Library, Readings at Emma: "When Words Sing: An Evening of Poetry" with San Antonio Poet Laureate Jenny Browne, 6:30PM


AUSTIN  Wed., Mar. 21 ESB Mex-Am Cultural Center, Voces en Contexto with Natalia Sylvester, author of Everyone Knows You Go Home, 7PM


IRVING  Wed., Mar. 21 South Irving Library, Debut author and BuzzFeed writer Farrah Penn discussing and signing her YA novel, 12 Steps to Normal, with #1 NY Times bestselling author Julie Murphy (Dumplin'), 7PM


AUSTIN  Thurs., Mar. 22 Malvern Books, St. Edward’s University’s Literature, Writing and Rhetoric department reading with Alan Altimont, Amy Clements, Mary Helen Specht, and Michael Yang, 7PM


CLEBURNE  Thurs., Mar. 22 Layland Museum of History, The Published Page Bookshop presents "The Care and Repair of Old Books," 6PM


HOUSTON  Thurs., Mar. 22  Blue Willow Bookshop, Chelsea Clinton will sign her new picture book, SHE PERSISTED AROUND THE WORLD, 6PM


DENTON  Fri., Mar. 23   UNT, Creative Writing faculty reading with Scott Blackwood, Bruce Bond, Jehanne Dubrow, Bonnie Friedman, Corey Marks, Miro Penkov, John Tait, and Jill Talbot, 7:30PM


GALVESTON  Sat., Mar. 24  Galveston Bookshop, Local author LuLynne Streeter signs Frozen Lives, her biography of Karl and Anna Kuerner, neighbors of Andrew Wyeth and frequent subjects of his paintings, 2PM


SOUTH PADRE ISLAND  Sat., Mar. 24  Paragraphs on Padre, Meet the Author: Pino Shah and Eileen Mattei discuss and sign Brownsville Architecture: A Visual History, 1PM


SWEETWATER  Sat., Mar. 24  Argos Brewhouse & Bookseller, Open Mic Night, 7PM


News Briefs 3.18.18


KidLit Marches for Kids’ Lives March 24


From Shelf AwarenessAfter the fatal shooting of seventeen students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, authors Jenny Han and Raina Telgemeier each felt the need to do something. A young adult author, Han feels that she has a “unique connection” with teens and children. Telgemeier, who writes primarily for middle-grade readers, echoes this sentiment, saying, “as authors, we serve kids and visit schools constantly. We feel like we’re a part of a community that kids really pay attention to and maybe even aspire to be a part of.”  >>READ MORE, PLUS A LIST OF KIDLIST MARCHES IN TEXAS


BookPeople's Steve Bercu to retire


AUSTIN —Steve Bercu, who has been CEO of Austin’s independent bookstore BookPeople for almost 20 years, plans to retire from full-time bookselling this coming June.


As part of the transition, Elizabeth Jordan has been named general manager of BookPeople. She has worked at the store since 2002 as a bookseller, manager, adult book buyer and inventory operations supervisor. In her new position, she will oversee day-to-day operations of the store, with an emphasis on improving communication among departments, creating efficiencies and increasing sales.  >>READ MORE

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

Lone Star Listens compilation available spring 2018, 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 Spring 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.


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






Twig’s Top Ten Bestsellers

March 2018

What are Texans reading these days, you ask? Lone Star Lit’s newest regular feature is a monthly list of trending titles at the Twig Book Shop, 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.


1 Elizabeth Crook, The Which Way Tree   978-0316434959 (reviewed in Lone Star Lit Jan. 21, 2018)

2 Carina Chocano, You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Train Wrecks, & Other Mixed Messages 978-0544648944

3 Naomi Shihab Nye, Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners 978-0062691842

4  Gay Gaddis, Cowgirl Power: How to Kick Ass in Business and Life 978-1478948216

5 Bryce Milligan, ed., Literary San Antonio 978-0875656878 (reviewed in Lone Star Lit Feb. 25, 2018)

6 Jeremy Banas, Bill Jones and Kit Goldsbury, Pearl: A History of San Antonio’s Iconic Beer 9781625858283

7 Rupi Kaur, Milk and Honey 978-1449483135

8 Bryan Mealer, The Kings of Big Spring: God, Oil, and One Family's Search for the American Dream 978-1250058911 (reviewed in Lone Star Lit Jan. 28, 2018)

9 William H. McRaven, Make Your Bed 978-1455570249

10 (tie) Mary V. Burkholder, The King William Area: A History and Guide to the Houses

10 (tie) James P. McCollom, The Last Sheriff in Texas: A True Tale of Violence and the Vote 978-1619029965 (reviewed in Lone Star Lit Dec. 10, 2017)





2.11.18  Panther City Review, an annually published print journal, is seeking creative non-fiction, novel excerpts, poetry, short stories, short plays/screenplays, as well as cover art, for the 2018 issue centered on the theme of “Wisdom.” The deadline for submission is Sunday, April 29, 2018, by 11:59pm. For guidelines, please visit www.panthercityreview.com.





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