Connecting Texas books and writers with those who most want to discover them
Feverland: A Memoir in Shards
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
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
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
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.”
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?
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).
Goddess of Anarchy: The Life and Times of Lucy Parsons, American Radical
Hardcover, 978-0-4650-7899-8, (also available as an e-book, an audiobook, and on audio CD), 480 pgs., $32.00
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
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
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.
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:
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:
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, Kristine Hall
Kelly Well Read, Kelly Moore
6/19/18 Book Trailer The Clueless Gent
6/19/18 BONUS POST Hall Ways Blog
6/20/18 Review Reading by Moonlight
6/21/18 Author Interview Syd Savvy
6/22/18 Guest Post StoreyBook Reviews
6/23/18 Review Max Knight
6/24/18 Excerpt 1 Kelly Well Read
6/25/18 Excerpt 2 Books and Broomsticks
6/26/18 Review That's What She's Reading
6/27/18 Top 8 List The Love of a Bibliophile
6/28/18 Review Forgotten Winds
6/20/18 Author Interview Chapter Break Book Blog
6/20/18 Guest Post Hall Ways Blog
6/21/18 Review Missus Gonzo
6/22/18 Top 5 List The Page Unbound
6/23/18 Excerpt Texas Book Lover
6/24/18 Review Forgotten Winds
6/25/18 Bonus Review Reading by Moonlight
6/26/18 Character Guest Post Dressed to Read
6/27/18 Review The Librarian Talks
6/28/18 Guest Post + Bonus Review That's What She's Reading
6/29/18 Review Book Fidelity
6/22/18 Top Ten List That's What She's Reading
6/23/18 Review Books in the Garden
6/23/18 Excerpt Book Fidelity
6/24/18 Guest Post Chapter Break Book Blog
6/25/18 Review Syd Savvy
6/25/18 Character Interview The Librarian Talks
6/26/18 BONUS Review Hall Ways Blog
6/27/18 Review The Clueless Gent
6/27/18 Top Ten List Kelly Well Read
6/28/18 Playlist StoreyBook Reviews
6/29/18 Review The Love of a Bibliophile
6/29/18 Excerpt Books and Broomsticks
6/30/18 Review Reading by Moonlight
6/30/18 Guest Post Dressed to Read
7/1/18 Review Missus Gonzo
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
Dan Jenkins has spent seven decades writing about Texas — both 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
SPECIAL EVENTS THIS WEEK
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
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
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
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
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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