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Lone Star Reviews




Robert C. Trumpbour and Kenneth Womack

The Eighth Wonder of the World: The Life of Houston Iconic Astrodome

University of Nebraska Press

Hardcover, 978-0-8032-5545-6, 272 pages, $27.95; also available as e-book; 2016


When it opened in April, 1965, Houston’s Astrodome was “the world’s first indoor, air-conditioned, all-weather sports stadium.” But more than that, Robert C. Trumpbour and Kenneth Womack write, the stunning structure—quickly nicknamed “the Eighth Wonder of the World — “was a unique place just to be inside, just to watch whatever was going on.” In their well-written and entertaining history of the Astrodome, they quote comedian Bob Hope as observing: “If they had a maternity ward and a cemetery, you’d never have to leave.” >>READ MORE


Texas Reads

>> archive

Former president
finds a new passion
in painting


Former President George W. Bush’s Portraits of Courage is subtitled “A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors,” and that accurately sums up his impressive new book (Crown, $35 hardcover).


In color paintings and personal essays, Bush offers a close-up look at ninety-eight men and women who have served in the armed forces since Sept. 11, 2001.


“I painted these men and women as a way to honor their service to the country and to show my respect for their sacrifice and courage,” Bush writes. “I hope to draw attention to the challenges some face when they come home and transition to civilian life — and the need for our country to better address them.”


Bush’s introduction, “Painting as a Passion,” tells how he took up painting in 2012 because he wanted a new adventure in his life — “within the confines of the post-presidential bubble.”


He told his wife, Laura, and an artist friend that he might like to take up painting.


“They were surprised,” he said. “I had been an art-agnostic all my life.”


Or, as Laura puts it in her foreword to the book: “When George and I married, if someone told me that he would become President, I would have thought, ‘Well, maybe.’ He was running for Congress at the time, and we loved politics. But if someone said, ‘One day you will be writing a foreword for a book that includes George’s paintings,’ I would have said, ‘No way.’”


In the four years since he took up painting, Bush has indeed shown a passion for it, as this remarkable collection proves.


Sixty-six service men and women are profiled with a full-page painting and a one- or two-page essay.


Between pages 96 and 97 is a four-page, four-panel color mural that folds out. Thirty-five men and women are included in the mural. Three of them are also among the 66 individuals profiled, bringing the total to 98. The stories of the other 32 in the mural are told briefly at the back of the book.


“I’m not sure how the art in this volume will hold up to critical eyes,” Bush writes. “After all, I am a novice. What I am sure of is that each painting was done with a lot of care and respect.”


Portraits of Courage is the third book by Bush since he left the presidency in 2008, following his memoir, Decision Points, and the very personal biography, 41: A Portrait of My Father.


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

* * * * *




Marjorie J. Spruill

Divided We Stand: The Battle Over Women’s Rights and Family Values That Polarized American Politics

Bloomsbury USA

Hardcover, 978-1-6328-6314-6, (also available as an e-book and on Audible), 448 pgs., $33.00

February 28, 2017


“Human rights apply equally to Soviet dissidents, Chilean peasants and American women.” —Barbara Jordan


Gloria Steinem refers to the National Women’s Conference, held November 18-21, 1977, in Houston, Texas, as “the most important event nobody knows about.” Twenty thousand women attended the conference. These delegates were Democrats and Republicans, ranging from students to housewives to the presidents of national groups such as the League of Women Voters, the National Federation of Business and Professional Women, and the National Organization for Women. The star-studded cast included Bella Abzug, Margaret Mead, Betty Friedan, Texas’s Barbara Jordan, Maya Angelou, Jean Stapleton (aka Edith Bunker of All in the Family), Coretta Scott King, and three first ladies of the United States. >>READ MORE


Benjamin Alire Sáenz

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life

Clarion Books

Hardcover, 978-0-5445-8650-5, (also available as an e-book, an audio book, and on Audible), 464 pgs., $17.99

March 7, 2017


“just because my love isn’t perfect doesn’t mean I don’t love you”


Seventeen-year-old Salvador “Sally” Silva likes his life. What he doesn’t like is change. Beginning his senior year at El Paso High School, Sally has a great relationship with Vicente, his adoptive father; a steadfast best friend of many years, Samantha “Sammy” Diaz; and a loving extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins, and his grandmother Mima. But when Sally, an easygoing guy with “a control thing over [himself]” who prefers “keeping it calm,” gets into a fistfight on the first day of school, he begins to wonder about his “bio father” for the first time, and doubting that he really knows himself at all. “Maybe the kind of guy I was was like someone I didn’t know,” Sally thinks. “You know, the guy I’d never met whose genes I had.” Then Sally’s Mima gets sick, his father’s former boyfriend returns, and his friends’ lives are turned upside down, forcing Sally to confront impending adulthood and question what it means to be a man. >>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 all ten on the map this week!


LONE STAR LISTENS interviews   >> archive

3.19.2017  Shelley Armitage on walking the Llano to discover “the land’s own lyric”

As winter turns to spring the call of travel whispers in our ear, but what speaks to us most about the journey — the visual feast for the eyes, or the insights we gain within ourselves as we trod through new and familiar places? Shelley Armitage’s Walking the Llano: A Texas Memoir of Place, a Kirkus Best Book of 2016 selection, transports the reader to the panhandle plains near Route 66 with its poetic prose and intelligent insights. The author talked with us via email last week about her memoir, her writing, and her own journey.


LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE: Shelley, your professional life has taken you through studies of photography, environmental literature, cultural and place studies, and living and working in diverse places—Portugal, Poland, Finland, and Hungary, teaching in the Southwest and Hawai’i, researching in New York, Washington, DC, Oregon, Illinois, Missouri, Connecticut. You’re the author of books, articles, and essays, and you’ve held Fulbright chairs in Warsaw and Budapest, a Distinguished Senior Professorship in Cincinnati, and the Dorrance Roderick Professorship in El Paso as well as three National Endowment for the Humanities grants, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, and a Rockefeller grant. Whew! How does someone get from Vega, Texas, halfway between Amarillo and the New Mexico county line with a population of around 900, to pursuing an international life of letters?


I appreciate this question because it allows me to thank some folks. In some small towns, like Vega, “small” means more opportunities to try things at school, more personal attention from teachers, a chance to dream big. In the seventh grade, we learned how to read the stock market and work a slide rule. Our band director, who taught all the instruments from grade school on (none of us had private lessons), also sponsored a Ham radio club; we had our novice licenses in the seventh grade and made Division I ratings at the band competitions playing selections designated for 5-A bands. If able, you could star in basketball one night and participate in the Interscholastic League science events the next. You get the picture. >>READ MORE


Texas's only statewide, weekly calendar of book events

Bookish Texas event highlights  3.19.2017
>> GO this week   Michelle Newby, Contributing Editor


SPECIAL EVENTS THIS WEEK: San Angelo, San Antonio, Houston, Maxwell
  • 21st Annual ASU Writers Conference in Honor of Elmer Kelton, San Angelo, March 23-24
  • 2017 San Antonio Conservation Society Publication Awards, March 24
  • Bayou City Poetry Slam Festival, Houston, March 24-25
  • Building a Writing Life! A weekend writing retreat led by ire'ne lara silva, Maxwell, March 25-26
HOUSTON  Mon., March 20  Blue Willow Bookshop, Kathy Hepinstall will discuss and sign THE BOOK OF POLLY, 7PMALSO SIGNING HOUSTON  Wed., March 22  Murder By the Book, 6:30PMBlue Willow Bookshop, Kathy Hepinstall will discuss and sign THE BOOK OF POLLY, 7PMALSO SIGNING HOUSTON  Wed., March 22  Murder By the Book, 6:30PMAUSTIN  Mon., March 20  BookPeople, WILL SCHWALBE speaking and signing Books For Living, 7PMALSO SIGNING HOUSTON  Tues., March 21 Blue Willow Bookshop, 7PMAUSTIN  Mon., March 21  BookPeople, WILL SCHWALBE speaking and signing Books For Living, 7PMHOUSTON  Tues, March 21  Blue Willow Bookshop, 7PMAUSTIN  Tues., March 21  BookWoman, BENJAMIN ALIRE SÁENZ speaking and signing The Inexplicable Logic of My Life, 7PMHOUSTON  Tues. 21, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, an evening with Colson Whitehead, National Book Award-winning author of The Underground Railroad, 6:30PM [ticket required]AUSTIN  Thurs., Mar. 23, UT Center for Mexican American Studies, Salon Cultural: Race, Writing, and Culture featuring Natalie Diaz, Emmy Perez, John Moran Gonzalez, and Dagoberto Gilb, 7PMDALLAS  Thurs., Mar. 23  Deep Vellum Books, Writers' League of Texas presents Celebrating Texas Independents with Karen J. DeVinney (University of North Texas Press), Will Evans (Deep Vellum Publishing and Cinestate), and Matthew Limpede (Carve Magazine), 7PMHOUSTON  Thurs., Mar. 23  Brazos Bookstore, Richard Russo reads and signs EVERYBODY’S FOOL, 7PMDALLAS Fri., Mar. 24 The Wild Detectives, Wild Beats: The Wild Detectives 3rd Anniversary Party!, 2PM DALLAS  Sat., Mar. 25 The Twig Book Shop, Contributors Appearance: Texas Weather: An Anthology of Poetry, Short Fiction, and Nonfiction, 2PM 

News Briefs 3.19.17

Writers’ League Celebrates “Texas Independents” statewide throughout March 2017; next stop, March 23, Deep Vellum (Dallas)


In March 2017 the Writers' League of Texas will partner with some of the state's greatest Independents—in conjunction with Texas Independence Day—to host a series of free and open events throughout the month of March in communities across the state.


These panel discussions (featuring authors and experts and including time for questions and networking) will focus on the great opportunities that Texas has to offer, from independent presses, to journals, to bookstores, and beyond, while also answering writers' burning questions about the publishing process, submitting to agents, catching the eye of an editor, and more. >>READ MORE





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A Stolen Heart by Amanda Cabot  Visit with Amanda March 15–April 4, 2017

3/21 Excerpt 1 Hall Ways Blog

3/22 Review Chapter Break Book Blog

3/23 Author Interview 1 Books and Broomsticks

3/24 Review Reading By Moonlight

3/25 Scrapbook Page Syd Savvy

3/26 promo Kara The Redhead

3/27 Review Margie's Must Reads

3/28 Excerpt 2 Forgotten Winds

3/29 Author Interview 2 The Page Unbound

3/30 Review My Book Fix Blog

3/31 Guest Post StoreyBook Reviews

4/1 Review CGB Blog Tours

4/2 promo A Novel Reality

4/3 Character Interview It's a Jenn World

4/4 Review Missus Gonzo



ALMOST A MINYAN by Lori S. Kline  Visit with Lori March 24–April 7, 2017

3/24 Illustration Preview 1 Country Girl Bookaholic

3/25 Review Hall Ways Blog

3/26 Author Interview 1 My Book Fix Blog

3/27 Review Momma On The Rocks

3/28 Guest Post Texas Book Lover

3/29 Promo Missus Gonzo

3/30 Review Syd Savvy

3/31 Illustration Preview 2 Reading By Moonlight

4/1 Review The Page Unbound

4/2 Author Interview 2 Margie's Must Reads

4/3 Review Books and Broomsticks

4/4 Excerpt Forgotten Winds

4/5 Illustration Preview 3 Chapter Break Book Blog

4/6 Review Byers Editing Reviews & Blog

4/7 Author Interview 3 StoreyBook Reviews



THE BIG INCH by Kimberly Fish  Visit with Kimberly March 8–22, 2017


3/8 Review Hall Ways Blog

3/9 Author Interview Reading By Moonlight

3/10 Excerpt Books and Broomsticks

3/11 Review Kara The Redhead

3/12 Promo Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their Books

3/13 Character Interview CGB Blog Tours

3/14 Review Syd Savvy

3/15 Guest Post Chapter Break Book Blog

3/16 Author Interview Forgotten Winds

3/17 Review Books in the Garden

3/18 Playlist My Book Fix Blog

3/19 Promo Margie's Must Reads

3/20 Review StoreyBook Reviews

3/21 Author Interview The Page Unbound

3/22 Review Missus Gonzo




FOY: ON THE ROAD TO LOST by Gordon Atkinson


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• Announcement: LSLL Launches


Lone Star Listens compilation available Aug. 1, 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.


  • Lone Star Listens will be available for preorder May 1 and will ship around Aug. 1.
  • Examination and review copies will be available May 1 in watermarked pdf format.


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