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Lone Star Reviews


Diana Finlay Hendricks

Delbert McClinton: One of the Fortunate Few

Texas A&M University Press

Hardcover, 9781623495886 (ebook also available); 232 pages, 30 color/30 b&w photos, bibliography, index; $29.95

December 11, 2017

Reviewed by Si Dunn


The journey from the flat plains of West Texas to worldwide musical stardom can be long and hard, with ample opportunities to get lost on side roads or slammed into bar ditches by life’s passing eighteen-wheelers.

     Lubbock native and blues rock singer-songwriter Delbert McClinton knows that he has been one of the “fortunate few” to complete that arduous journey from obscurity to fame. Now a three-time Grammy winner with many albums to his credit, McClinton has been on stage for more than sixty years. And he keeps performing his songs with his widely envied voice, plus his well-honed skills on harmonica, guitar, and piano.  >>READ MORE












Texas Reads

>> archive


 Miles Arceneaux is back with another thriller


Fans of the mystery writing team that goes by the pen name of Miles Arceneaux will want to check out Hidden Sea, the fifth Gulf Coast novel featuring the adventures of Charlie Sweetwater ($11.99 paperback).


This one is set on the Texas and Mexican Gulf Coast but drifts into Cuba as well, as Sweetwater sets out to find his missing great-nephew in Mexico, accompanied by the boy’s father, Raul Sweetwater. Along the way they encounter drug cartels, smugglers, crooked politicians, pirates and sea slaves.


As always, the Arceneaux team (Brent Douglass, John T. Davis, and James R. Dennis) keeps the action flowing and the pages turning, with a couple of surprising twists at the end. This may be the best yet.


George Washington: Abilene author Rob Westman and Abilene artist Kay Walton have teamed up to produce a full-color coffee table book on George Washington’s Christian faith and values.


George Washington: Providence ($24.95 hardcover) makes its debut appropriately on Presidents Day, at a 7 p.m. event Monday at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Abilene.


Dr. Peter Lillback, author of the number one best-seller George Washington’s Sacred Fire, will speak, and Westman and Walton will sign books. Westman said he was inspired to write his book, and produce a one-hour documentary, after reading Lillback’s thoroughly researched account several years ago. Lillback helped Westman secure funding for his and Walton’s family-oriented volume.


“If George Washington is our measure,” Westman writes, “then God seems less interested in bravado and more interested in bravery. He was not a perfect man. But we can learn from his actions, as he attempted to walk according to the duties of the Christian faith.”


Reconstruction violence: Veteran Texas author Chuck Parsons has written an authoritative biography, Captain Jack Helm: A Victim of Texas Reconstruction Violence (University of North Texas Press, $29.95 hardcover).


Helm was a deputy sheriff, sheriff, and captain of the Texas State Police during Reconstruction. Often the suspected lawbreakers that he arrested never made it back to jail alive, and eventually his version of law and order brought about his own demise at the hands of notorious killer John Wesley Hardin. Little has been written about Helms until this book.


Texas State Historian Bill O’Neal says, “A biography of Jack Helm is long overdue. Captain Jack Helm is more than a fine gunfighter biography: it is a vivid statement about the murderous violence of Reconstruction in Texas.”


Business successes: The Entrepreneurial Spirit of Aggieland by Randy Burson ($34.99 oversized hardcover, $24.99 paperback) focuses on 12 Aggies who have succeeded while pursuing their dreams of launching their own business enterprises. The twelve stories are told in first person as the entrepreneurs relate their paths to success, the challenges they had to overcome, and their advice to young, aspiring business leaders.


“There is no secret recipe for success,” Burson writes. “Entrepreneurial success is about courage, self-discipline, vision, belief, capitalizing on opportunities, overcoming obstacles and, most of all, hard work.”


* * * * *

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


* * * * *



Francisco Cantú

The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border

Riverhead Books

Hardcover, 978-0-7352-1771-3, (also available as an e-book, an audio book, and on Audible), 256 pgs., $26.00

February 6, 2018


They come from Michoacán and Guadalajara, from Oaxaca and El Salvador. Men, women, children, entire families. Some are heroin mules, “coyotes,” and cartel scouts; some are pregnant women, children escaping gangs, and fathers who want to feed their kids. One man offers to clean up around the station while he waits for the bus that will return him to Mexico. Sometimes the migrants’ backpacks are dumped on the desert floor, the water drained, the clothes and food burned. Other times, the migrants’ blistered feet are washed and bandaged. There are abandoned drug loads and abandoned people, extraordinary cruelty and ordinary kindness, paranoia and compromising situations, kidney failure and the comatose and the dead. The Southwestern desert is a vast graveyard. A Texas sheriff notes, “For every one we find, we’re probably missing five.”


The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border is the first book from Francisco Cantú, a former U.S. Border Patrol agent. His writing has appeared in Harper’s and Guernica, among other publications, and Cantú won a Pushcart Prize and the 2017 Whiting Award. The Line Becomes a River is a profoundly disturbing memoir of Cantú’s years in the Border Patrol during years of breathtaking violence, when Felipe Calderón was president of Mexico and challenged the cartels.  >>READ MORE


Martha Deeringer

Elephant Dreams: A Novel

Melange Books

Paperback, 978-1-6804-6532-7, (also available as an e-book), 224 pgs., $13.95

September 2, 2017


Sixteen-year-old Fiona Finn is homeless on the nineteenth-century streets of New York City. After her mother’s death from consumption, her father’s drinking problem subsumed him. Fiona was scavenging for food when the family was evicted; when she returns to the apartment, her father and little brother, Frank, are gone. Fiona has been living in the basement of a condemned tenement, and finally seeks help and refuge in a church after almost being nabbed on the street by a pimp.


The Children’s Aid Society wants to send Fiona west on an orphan train, but her father refuses to sign the documents. He, too, thinks she can make money on street corners, enough to keep him insensately soused. So the society arranges for Fiona to work for them, helping on the trains with the orphans who do go west to new lives. When Fiona’s father stows away on the train, she escapes during a stop in Houston and finds her way to a circus—"The Mollie A. Bailey Show, A Texas Show for Texas People.”  >>READ MORE


LONE STAR LISTENS interviews   >> archive

2.18.2018  Michael Hurd of Prairie View A&M tells the story of black football in Texas


For three decades he's been writing books about inspiring and underappreciated stories of African-American football. Now, the author of Thursday Night Lights: The Story of Black High School Football in Texas (University of Texas Press, 2017), will be inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters in April, and he's been a part of the most notable book festivals across the state. Michael Hurd kicks off the Texas Writers Series in Abilene this week, and he talks with us via email for Lone Star Listens.


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


MICHAEL HURD: I was born in Texarkana, Texas side (!). Despite the segregation in the 1950s, I look back at that as the best time in my life. We had a wonderful family centered around my maternal grandmother — my “Big Momma!” There was always somebody to give you a hug, or tell you to get me a switch!, or offer a lap to sit in, or walk with you to church every Sunday. My grandmother, Ellen Baxter, my uncles and aunts, cousins were the best people I’ve ever known. Solid human beings who loved family, loved kids, and were well-respected in the community. It was such a loving and supportive environment. We moved to Houston when I was ten, and I was mad at my parents for the longest time because I didn’t understand why we had to move, why we had to leave that.


How old were you when you first played football, and what position did you play?


I didn’t participate in team sports at school, but played sandlot games — touch football, sometimes tackle, basketball, Little League baseball. I started playing those sports early on with my friends, and we’d have neighborhood teams that played against neighborhood rivals.  >>READ MORE


Texas's only statewide, weekly calendar of book events
Bookish Texas event highlights  2.18.2018
>> GO this week   Michelle Newby, Contributing Editor



  • Humanities Texas presents Texas Storytime: A Family Reading Program, Midland, February 8-March 15
  • First Impressions Festival for Local Playwrights, Dallas, February 21-23
  • 22nd Annual ASU Writers Conference in Honor of Elmer Kelton, San Angelo, February 22-23
  • People's Poetry Festival, Corpus Christi, February 22-24
  • Celebration of Diverse Literary Voices of Texas, Austin, February 24
  • Poetry Out Loud Finals, Austin, February 24
  • Wild & Wonderful Evening: 4word Gala & Dinner featuring Barbara Bush and Jenna Bush Hager, Dallas, February 24


ABILENE  Mon., Feb. 19  Abilene Public Library - Downtown, Texas Author Series: Michael Hurd discussing and signing Thursday Night Lights, 12PM


DALLAS  Mon., Feb. 19   Belo Mansion, World Affairs Council of DFW hosts former Mexican president Vicente Fox discussing and signing Let’s Move On: Beyond Fear and False Prophets, 12PM


ARLINGTON  Tues., Feb. 20 UT Arlington - Texas Hall, Maverick Speaker Series presents best-selling author and sustainable food advocate Michael Pollan: "One Writer's Trip: From the Garden to the Plate and the Beyond," 7:30PM

ALSO SIGNING IN HOUSTON  Tues., Feb. 13  Blue Willow Bookshop, 7PM


DALLAS  Tues., Feb. 20 Interabang Books, Michelle Staubach Grimes launches her newest children's book, PIDGE TAKES THE STAGE, 6PM


AUSTIN  Wed., Feb. 21 Harry Ransom Center, Early Digital Facsimiles: Sarah Werner, who previously served as Digital Media Strategist at the Folger Shakespeare Library and author of the forthcoming Studying Early Printed Books, 1450–1800: A Practical Guide, will discuss the rise of digitization and its impact on the study of early modern books, 4:30PM


COLLEGE STATION  Thurs., Feb. 22 TAMU - Annenberg Presidential Conference Center, "How to Become a Star Writer" by Skip Hollandsworth, author of The Midnight Assassin, 1PM


EL PASO  Thurs., Feb. 22 B&N - Sunland Park, Meet Crazy Horse family members and W. Matson, author of Crazy Horse: The Lakota Warrior's Life & Legacy, 5PM


SAN ANTONIO  Thurs., Feb. 22 San Antonio Central Library, A Public Platica on the current state of the literary arts in San Antonio, with the debut and signing of Literary San Antonio, featuring Dr. Tomás Ybarra-Frausto Bryce Milligan, Texas Poet Laureate Rosemary Catacalos, San Antonio and Texas Poet Laureate Jenny Browne, journalist and cultural historian Cary Clack, and San Antonio book collector extraordinaire Bill Fisher, 6:30PM


SAN MARCOS  Thurs., Feb. 22  Texas State - Alkek Library, the Wittliff Collections presents a reading and signing with Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, 3:30PM

ALSO SIGNING IN KYLE  Fri., Feb. 23 Katherine Anne Porter Literary Center,7:30PM


ALPINE  Fri., Feb. 23  Front Street Books, Ben H. English discussing and signing Yonderings: Trails and Memories of the Big Bend, 6PM


AUSTIN  Sat., Feb. 24  BookWoman, TORCH Wildfire Reading series featuring Dr. Jacqueline Allen Trimble, author of American Happiness, winner of the 2016 Balcones Poetry Prize, 7PM


HOUSTON  Sat., Feb. 24  Blue Willow Bookshop, Lincee Ray will discuss and sign her new book, WHY I HATE GREEN BEANS, 11AM


News Briefs 2.18.18


10th annual Texas Teen Book Festival slated for October 6

Milestone year to bring several surprises for 2018 festival attendees


AUSTIN — The Texas Teen Book Festival is excited to announce that its 10th annual Festival will take place Sat., Oct. 6, at St. Edward’s University. Young adults and YA-genre fans can expect a fun day filled with entertaining panels and inspiring sessions led by some of 2018’s best-selling and most critically acclaimed Young Adult authors, along with interactive activities, games, book signings, and more.


The 2017 Texas Teen Book Festival welcomed more than 4,000 attendees and an all-star lineup of more than thirty celebrated YA authors, including keynote speakers Jason Reynolds and Marie Lu. The 2017 TTBF also introduced the iTent and We Need Diverse Books for a special session on professional opportunities in the book and publishing industry.


“We are ecstatic to announce that the 2018 Texas Teen Book Festival will be returning for its 10th year,” said Shawn Mauser, TTBF festival director.  >>READ MORE


6th annual Book Festival to bring more than ninety authors to San Antonio Apr. 7


SAN ANTONIO—The San Antonio Book Festival (SABF) has released its lineup of more than 90 national, regional, and local authors who will appear at the 6th annual Festival, which will take place on Saturday, April 7, 2018, from 9 am to 5 pm at the Central Library and Southwest School of Art. A detailed schedule of the Festival’s author sessions will be available at saplf.org/festival in March.


Headlining the 2018 lineup is Emmy award-winning journalist Jorge Ramos with his latest book, Stranger: The Challenge of a Latino Immigrant in the Trump Era. Ramos has been the anchorman for Univision since 1986 and was hailed as “one of the 25 most influential Hispanics in the United States” by TIME magazine. His 2016 documentary, Hate Rising, investigates the state of hate in America.


Other top attractions in the SABF lineup include popular comedian Paula Poundstone with her book exploring happiness, The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness; Pulitzer Prize finalist Luis Alberto Urrea with his new novel, The House of Broken Angels; former San Antonio mayor Henry Cisneros with Building Equitable Cities: How to Drive Economic Mobility and Regional Growth; Attica Locke, author of Bluebird, Bluebird and former writer for the TV show Empire; National Book Award finalist Carmen Maria Machado with her debut collection of short stories, Her Body and Other Parties; former LBJ Presidential Library director Mark Updegrove with The Last Republicans: Inside the Extraordinary Relationship Between George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.


MacArthur Fellow and best-selling author Sandra Cisneros will appear with her memoir, A House of My Own: Stories from My Life.  >>READ MORE



NCCIL opens exhibit of African-American authors, illustrators


ABILENE — The Coretta Scott King Book Awards have been given annually since 1969 to African-American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults for demonstrating African-American culture and values. The largest exhibit honoring these authors and illustrators opened last week at the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature (NCCIL) in Abilene.


An exhibit three years in the making, “Our Voice: Celebrating the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awards” will run through at least May 19, 2018, according to Sujata Shahane, director of education and exhibitions programming at the NCCIL.



Texas Poetry Out Loud finals slated for February 24

LEFT: 2017 Texas Poetry Out Loud competitors


AUSTIN — The Texas Commission on the Arts will host the Texas Poetry Out Loud recitation contest for high school students at 1:00 pm Sat., Feb. 24, 2018, in Austin. The finals, graciously hosted by the Bullock Texas State History Museum, will be open to the public and free to attend. 27 students will represent their schools in the competition. The event will be hosted by internationally renowned Texas poet Naomi Shihab Nye>>READ MORE




Lone Star Lit wraps up Indiegogo campaign ’18: Thanks for helping launch our 4th year!


Lone Star Literary Life covers the Texas literary scene like no one else, week in and week out. Since 2015, we’ve given Texas authors, booksellers, libraries, publishers, and readers a trusted platform of their own. With shrinking coverage devoted to books in mainstream media — and most of that focused on the same handful of national bestsellers — where were Texas authors to get noticed, and where were Texas readers to discover the books they crave?  >>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

January 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 Michael Wolff, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House   9781250158062

2 Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo, Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls 1 9780141986005

3 Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo, Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls 2 9780997895827

4  Mary Oliver, Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver   9780399563249

5 Rupi Kaur, The Sun and Her Flowers 9781449486792

6 Rupi Kaur, Milk and Honey 9781449474256

7 Jen Sincero, You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life  9780762447695

8 Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow 9780670026197

9 Paulette Jiles, News of the World 9780062409201

10 (tie) Celeste Ng, Little Fires Everywhere 9780735224292

10 (tie) Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale 9781328879943





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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Leave Tomorrow: My Ride to the Bottom of the World by Dirk Weisiger  Visit with Dirk Feb. 21–Mar. 2, 2018

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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’ll start with a bookish place smack in the heart of 2017’s #1 Top Bookish Destination. History-hungry tourists rub elbows with elected officials in this small space chock-full of Texas-related books and souvenirs. (You can pick up a copy of our Literary Texas guidebook here, too!)


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




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