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Lone Star Reviews


Alex Lemon

Feverland: A Memoir in Shards

Milkweed Editions

Paperback,  978-1-57131-336-2, 312 pages, $16.00; September 2017

Reviewed by Si Dunn


Imagine that your entire life can be viewed, frozen in place, in one big mirror. Now, drop the mirror. Let it shatter and scatter into countless pieces. As you pick up some of the fragments, one at a time, write down what you see in each piece and try to make it connect somehow with the next piece you lift.


Associative. That’s the easiest adjective to describe the structure of Fort Worth writer Alex Lemon’s latest memoir. (His previous works include Happy: A Memoir and several poetry collections.)


Feverland: A Memoir in Shards jumps quickly from one time, place and memory to another memory that is somehow connected. And each biographical “shard” may consume one short paragraph or a page or several pages.


Initially, the book can be challenging reading. But it soon becomes rewarding. Lemon understands the power of using short, clear sentences to build toward deeper meanings. At the same time, he does not shy away from using longer sentences (sometimes very long) to alter the rhythms and flow of thoughts.  >>READ MORE



Kermit Schweidel

Folly Cove: A Smuggler's Tale of the Pot Rebellion

Cinco Puntos Press

Hardcover, 978-1-941026-82-3 (also available as ebook), 266 pages, $16.95

February 2018

Reviewed by Si Dunn


It's tempting to describe Folly Cove as “Reefer Madness” toked up on steroids.


This well-written book offers much more information and entertainment than that 1936 anti-marijuana film.


Folly Cove takes the reader inside the methods and cash-only economics of marijuana smuggling during the early 1970s. It describes how border patrols and federal drug agents were evaded and how a smuggler, if arrested, could slow or even stop the wheels of justice with some well-placed money and a high-dollar attorney. But in those days, conviction for possessing even small amounts could bring a long prison sentence. >>READ MORE


Texas Reads

>> archive


Texas children’s author David Davis was a friend


I’m sad to report that David Davis, one of my favorite Texas children’s authors and a good friend, died on May 24. He wrote children’s books that adults probably enjoyed and understood more than the children they read them to.


Among his titles: Texas Mother Goose, Ten Redneck Babies, Redneck Night Before Christmas, Librarian’s Night Before Christmas, Texas Zeke and the Longhorn, and The Twelve Days of Christmas—in Texas, That Is. Most of his books are still in print.


Here are two of my favorites from Texas Mother Goose, which Carlton Stowers and I included in our selection of 101 Essential Texas Books a few years ago.


 Breakfast with Humpty Dumpty

 Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall

 Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

 All the ranch cowboys and all the vaqueros

 Got a big breakfast of huevos rancheros.


 Three Blind Mice

 Three blind mice,

 See how they run!

 They ran for Senate up Austin way,

 Since they’re blind it’s the place to stay;

 They’re just like senators in every way,

 Those three blind mice.


David had a wonderful sense of humor and often teamed up with fellow Fort Worth children’s author Jan Peck to put on delightful programs for schools, libraries and book festivals.


He also wrote a collection of stories about his Grandpaw Lacy and allowed me to include one of them, a gently moving piece called “Wages for a Hired Hand,” in the book of West Texas Christmas Stories I edited in 2013.


In 2004 David and I did a book signing together and were virtually ignored while folks literally lined up out the door to get former Texas Tech football coach Spike Dykes to autograph his new book, Tales from the Texas Tech Sidelines.


We joked that never again would we try to compete against a football coach at a book signing. I will miss him.


New Texas novel: How the Cowboy Was Won is the latest novel from popular Texas romance author Lori Wilde (Avon Books, $7.99 paperback).


Set in the fictional town of Cupid, Texas, the story features the town matchmaker, who can’t seem to find a match for herself, and a cowboy who is her best friend. She tries to hitch him up with the right gal, but who might that be?


Folklore: Legends and Life in Texas: Folklore in the Lone Star State in Stories and Song, edited by Kenneth L. Untiedt, is the annual volume published by the Texas Folklore Society based on presentations at the society’s get-togethers (University of North Texas Press, $45 hardcover).


As always, there is plenty of good reading here for those interested in history and folklore, including this intriguing title: “Yodels, Cattle Calls, and Other Melodious Sounds.”


Glenn Dromgoole writes about 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. All year long we promote 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 2018’s #1 Top Bookish Destination. Where in this city celebrating its tricentennial this year would you find a colorful reading corner inside one of its hometown retailers?



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) went wanting for a winner. We’ll reveal the place now — it’s the Poet Tree, in Houston (yeah, that would’ve been easy, for anyone who zoomed in).


Jacqueline Jones

Goddess of Anarchy: The Life and Times of Lucy Parsons, American Radical

Basic Books

Hardcover, 978-0-4650-7899-8, (also available as an e-book, an audiobook, and on audio CD), 480 pgs., $32.00

December 2017


Lucy Parsons. Slave, freedwoman, student, wife, mother, writer, editor, internationally renowned orator, socialist, communist, anarchist, cipher. From her birth to a slave in antebellum Virginia in 1851, to her education and formative years in Reconstruction–era Waco, Texas, where she married Albert Parsons, an Anglo man who would later be hanged in connection with the bombing of Haymarket Square, to swiftly industrializing Chicago in the Gilded Age, until her death in 1942, Parsons fought for the laboring masses, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly in a nation dizzy with change, a nation sometimes exalted by rapid innovation, oftentimes staggering beneath it. From the 1880s until the day she died, Parsons “held fast to the ideal of a nonhierarchical society emerging from trade unions, a society without wages and without coercive government of any kind.” Even if this result could be achieved only by dynamite.


Goddess of Anarchy: The Life and Times of Lucy Parsons, American Radical is the latest work of biographical history from Jacqueline Jones, professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin, MacArthur Fellow, two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, and winner of the Bancroft Prize. Goddess of Anarchy is a dramatic and entertaining account of a difficult, complicated, and flawed but significant life almost lost to history, as are those of untold numbers of impactful women.   >>READ MORE


Rob Reynolds

Wire Mother Monkey Baby: A Novel

Outpost 19

Paperback, 978-1-9448-5337-2, 262 pages, $16.00

November 7, 2017


Clayton Draper, attempting to jump-start his stagnating life, moves into a new development in Austin called The Complex, one of a new trend in “all-inclusive” apartment communities boasting sports facilities, restaurants, bars, and cinemas, among other distractions—ahem, I meant attractions—subsidized by corporations. Draper’s new home, sponsored by Kool Kola, is a “microcosm of the outside world,” he writes, “only more micro, less cosmic.” Draper’s new home of exposed brick and cathedral ceilings includes a Kool Kola vending machine, which is inventoried monthly by a judgmental service technician. Draper, the ingrate, isn’t drinking enough Kool Kola. Absurdist humor and clinical depression infuse Reynolds’ debut in equal measure.


Draper, imagining a “new self … better and more cultured,” tries to escape his comfort zone to take advantage of the social opportunities at The Complex. He attends French films, where he obsesses over whether he’s chosen the best seat; talks up women in bars, where “Instead of getting the night started on the right foot,” he laments, “[he] learned once again how [his] mouth is perfectly sized to receive it”; and wanders barbecues where, “With one of two hands occupied [with a beer bottle he] had fifty-fifty odds of coming across as normal.”   >>READ MORE

Twig’s Top Ten Bestsellers

May 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  Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See, 978-1-501173219

2  David Grann, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI  978-0-307742483

3 Jen Sincero, You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life 978-0762490547

4  Elizabeth Strout, Anything Is Possible, 978-0-812989410

5  Min Jin Lee, Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist), 978-1-455563920

5 Paula Hawkins, Into the Water, 978-0-735211223

6  Shari Lapena, The Couple Next Door, 978-0-735221109

7  Celeste Ng, Little Fires Everywhere, 978-0-735224292

8  George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo, 978-0-812985405

9  Michael Pollan, How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us about Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, 978-1-594204227

10  Michael Ondaatje, Warlight, 978-0-525521198






6.3.18  The 2018 Julia Darling Memorial Poetry Prize

A prize of $750.00 and publication in The Ocotillo Review Winter 2019 will be awarded for a poem of up to 65 lines. Carrie Fountain will judge. Revenue generated will be donated to cancer research. Details: www.kallistogaiapress.org


6.3.18  The 2018 Chester B. Himes Memorial Short Fiction Prize

A prize of $750.00 and publication in The Ocotillo Review Winter 2019 will be awarded for a short story up to 4,200 words. Antonio Ruiz-Camacho will judge. Revenue generated will be donated to Parkinson’s research. Details: www.kallistogaiapress.org





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2018 Kids' Summer Reading, June 2018

sponsored by Blue Wilow Bookshop


From read-to-me books to early readers, chapter books to middle readers to YA, you’ll find these terrific new titles at your neighborhood bookshop or online. >>READ MORE



LONE STAR LISTENS interviews   >> archive

6.17.2018  “My entire life has been a great gig”: veteran Texas sportswriter Dan Jenkins on opportunities and opinions, and cranking out new books as an octogenarian



Dan Jenkins has spent seven decades writing about Texasboth in journalism and fiction. Shown above left with his daughter, Sally Jenkins, a sports journalist with the Washington Post, and above right with his late contemporaries Gary Cartwright, Larry L. King, and Bud Shrake, who created their own brand of Texas New Journalism for the greater part of three decades, Jenkins honored Lone Star Lit with an interview via email this week. His newest book is forthcoming in August 2018.



LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE: Where did you grow up, Dan, and how would you describe those days?


DAN JENKINS: I was born in Fort Worth and grew up on the south side of town in the neighborhood of Paschal High and TCU, where I was schooled. I was an only child and was spoiled rotten by the grandparents and aunts and uncles who raised me. Everybody in the family loved sports, football and golf especially, so I did too. They encouraged it. I started playing golf at the age of eight. I was blessed with a happy childhood.



Golf and journalism have been a part of your life forever. How did you get started with both?


All I ever wanted to be was a journalist, a sportswriter in particular. I don't think I was ever a kid. I read the front page, the war news, and the sports section of the daily papers instead of the comics.  >>READ MORE


Texas's only statewide, weekly calendar of book events
Bookish Texas event highlights  6.17.2018
>> GO this week   Michelle Newby, Contributing Editor



  • Southern Fried Poetry Slam, San Antonio, June 12-17
  • Greater Austin Comic Con, June 16-17
  • Meet Valley Authors Night, McAllen, June 22
  • 12th Annual Austin African American Book Festival, June 23


DALLAS Mon., June 18  Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, Ellen Meacham discussing and signing Delta Epiphany: RFK in Mississippi, 7PM


DALLAS Mon., June 18  The Wild Detectives, award-winning journalist and immigration expert Alfredo Corchado in conversation with the Dallas Morning News’ Tom Huang about his new book, Homelands: Four Friends, Two Countries, and the Fate of the Great Mexican-American Migration, 7:30PM


DALLAS  Tues., June 19  Interabang Books, Terry Brooks reading and signing THE FALL OF SHANNARA: THE SKAAR INVASION, 7PM

ALSO SIGNING IN AUSTIN  Wed., June 20 BookPeople, 7PM [ticketed event]

ALSO SIGNING IN HOUSTON  Thurs., June 21  Murder By the Book, 6:30PM


HOUSTON  Tues., June 19  Brazos Bookstore, Mark Haskell Smith reading and signing his new novel, BLOWN, 7PM

ALSO SIGNING IN AUSTIN  Wed., June 20 Malvern Books, hosted by Austin author Jill Alexander Essbaum 7PM

ALSO SIGNING IN DALLAS  Thurs., June 21  The Wild Detectives, 7:30PM


SAN ANTONIO  Tues., June 19  The Twig Book Shop, Natalia Sylvester reading and signing Everyone Knows You Go Home, 6PM

ALSO SIGNING IN HOUSTON  Fri., June 22  Brazos Bookstore, 7PM


SPUR  Tues., June 19 Dickens County-Spur Public Library, Special appearance by S.J. Dahlstrom, author of the Wilder Good series, 10AM


CANYON  Thurs., June 21  Burrowing Owl Books, A poetry reading with Chera Hammons, whose collection The Traveler's Guide to Bomb City just won the 2017 PEN Southwest Book Award, 7PM


HOUSTON  Thurs., June 21  Brazos Bookstore, Joe Crespino discussing and signing ATTICUS FINCH: THE BIOGRAPHY, 7PM


DALLAS  Fri., June 22 Interabang Books, Silas House reading and signing SOUTHERNMOST, 7PM


GALVESTON  Sat., June 23 Galveston Bookshop, Houston author Mark Lardas signing The Cruiser Houston (Images of America), 2PM


HOUSTON  Sat., June 23 River Oaks Bookstore, Francine Page reading and signing Logan Thee Forsaken, 3PM


AUSTIN  Sun., June 24   BookPeople, JAY BRANDON speaking and signing Against the Law, and MANNING WOLFE speaking and signing Music Notes, 2PM


News Briefs 6.17.18

San Juan, Texas, library to hold multi-author event June 22


SAN JUAN — The public is invited to Meet the Authors Night @ the San Juan Memorial Library (1010 S. Standard Ave., San Juan, between Alamo and Pharr) Friday, June 22, from 6 to 10 p.m.


The evening will include readings and Q&A by local authors, books for sale, door prizes, and book signings. Light refreshments will be provided. Featured authors scheduled to appear include “The Poet Mariachi” Daniel García Ordaz, 2018 McAllen Poet Laureate Edward Vidaurre, 2016–17 McAllen Poet Laureate Priscilla Celina Suarez, Beat scholar Rob Johnson, writer/producer/director Stephen Mark Pantoja, Dr. Diana Dominguez, award-winning poet Rodney Gomez, storyteller/poets Richard Sanchez and Anne Estevis, UTRGV professor Christopher Carmona, UTRGV professor and award-winning poet Emmy Pérez, and poet Diana Elizondo.  >>READ MORE


 Texas Book Festival announces recipients of Harvey relief funds

Organization awards a total of $10,000 to five school libraries affected by Hurricane Harvey


AUSTIN — The Texas Book Festival this week announced the recipients of its special school library rebuilding grants, awarded to five Texas schools affected by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Each school will receive $2,000 to replace books lost or damaged due to flooding.


The school libraries selected for funding are Aransas ISD Little Bay Primary and four schools in Houston ISD: Forest Brook Middle School, Mitchell Elementary, Martinez Elementary, and Robinson Elementary.


Aransas ISD’s Little Bay Primary was heavily damaged during the storm and will not reopen. Its pre-kindergarten classrooms received substantial damage, and all mentor texts for classroom libraries were lost. Funds will be used to purchase new classroom books for the 2018–19 school year at Aransas ISD’s new campus, the Discovery Learning Center. >>READ MORE


12th Annual Austin African-American Book Festival set for June 23


AUSTIN — For its twelfth year, Austin’s African-American Book Festival (AABF) honors classic African-American titles, uplifting novels of present-day and works that imagine a masterful future. The 2018 festival will be held Saturday, June 23, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Carver Museum and Library, 1165 Angelina St. in East Austin. This community event is free and open to the public.


This year’s keynote speaker is publisher Paul Coates, who started Black Classics Press forty years ago to ensure that black literature is available for future generations. Coates formerly served as the African-American Studies reference and acquisition librarian at Howard University and is the father of cultural critic Ta-Nehisi Coates. >>READ MORE


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

Lone Star Listens compilation available summer 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 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.


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



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