Connecting Texas books and writers with those who most want to discover them
SELECTED NEW BOOKS
G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Hardcover, 978-0-399-16542-9 (also available as ebook and audiobook), 432 pgs., $27.00; October 6, 2015
Friction: A Novel
Grand Central Publishing
978-1-4555-8116-0, hardcover, 410 pgs., $26.00; August 18, 2015
CLASSICS BY FORT WORTH AUTHORS and ABOUT FORT WORTH
TOP 10 TEXAS BOOKISH DESTINATIONS 2016
Your local newspaper has been called The Daily Miracle. It’s a place where writers, artists, salespeople, and number crunchers come together and create news coverage from scratch every day. Since 1995 and the digital era, it’s been a 24/7 miracle.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram came of age in the early twentieth century when larger than life men such as Amon G. Carter, William Randolph Hearst, and Joseph Pulitzer acquired newspapers and newspaper readers through aggressive beat reporting instead of hostile takeovers by shareholders agitating for better portfolio performance. Texas’s daily newspapers have also served as a quasi-book boot camp for a generation of aspiring authors.
The Fort Worth journalism scene has proven fertile ground for authors such as Gary Cartwright, Dan Jenkins, Bud Shrake, Molly Ivins, Sandra Brown, Jeff Guinn, and Julia Heaberlin. These authors have generated best sellers on the national scene over recent decades.
A leader in regional letters based in Fort Worth, Texas Christian University Press has traditionally published the history and literature of Texas and the American West, including the Literary Texas Cities book series founded by former director Judy Alter. As the press has grown steadily in stature and in its ability to bring credit to its parent university over the last twenty years, it has been praised for its regional fiction, which often doesn’t find a market in New York, and for discovering and preserving local history.
Above: the Texas Literary Hall of Fame, on the second floor of the Fort Worth Public Library
TCU Press has several established series and some new ones. The Texas Tradition Series reprints classic Texas literature that might otherwise disappear from bookstores and libraries—with novelist Elmer Kelton as its mainstay. The Chisholm Trail Series offers books that capture the history and culture of Texas, and Chaparral Books for Young Readers are historical fiction for middle-school students, aiming to captivate youngsters with Texas history.
In Western literature, The Big Drift (2014) by Patrick Dearen won the Western Writers of America 2015 Spur Award.
The Texas Biography Series, sponsored by the Center for Texas Studies at TCU, offers scholarly, documented biographies of lesser-known Texans—Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin have been covered extensively, but many who made strong contributions to Texas history have not. The first volume, Emily Austin of Texas: 1795–1851, by Light T. Cummins, won the 2010 Liz Carpenter Award for Research in the History of Women. Edmund J. Davis of Texas: Civil War General, Republican Leader, Reconstruction Governor by Carl H. Moneyhon appeared in 2010, while Fighting Stock: John S. “Rip” Ford of Texas by Richard B. McCaslin appeared in 2011. New in 2016 is Adele Briscoe Looscan: Daughter of the Republic by Laura McLemore.
Poetry and poets laureate
TCU Press is also home to the Texas Poets Laureate series, books collecting recent and new work by the Texas poets laureate beginning with Alan Birkelbach, 2005, through Karla K. Morton, 2010 Texas poet laureate.
Speaking of poets, the Fort Worth Poetry Society, which recently celebrated its 105th anniversary, is the longest active poetry society in Texas.
Writing on the frontier
Fort Worth’s been called the place where the west begins, and that frontier spirit contributes to the name of its most popular and still evolving literary/cultural festival, the Wildcatter’s Exchange, described by organizers as “Two Days of Rhythm & Rhymes, Truth & Lies.” The Wildcatter Exchange’s third annual, two-day free festival is slated for Friday and Saturday, March 25-26, 2016, in Fort Worth’s South Main Village District. The focus of this year’s festival will be a musical, historical, and dramatic survey of Fort Worth’s I. M. Terrell High School and the influence of its jazz-study programs upon the popular music industry worldwide. Featured authors include Joe R. Lansdale, Ron Abrahm, and Drew Sanders.
Fort Worth's fifth annual Art & Words Show, curated by author Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam with guest editor Jenn Aglio, will take place on Saturday, October 1, 2016; the show starts at 6:30 pm and the reading at 7:30. To submit work for consideration, and learn more about this multimedia event, visit http://bonniejostufflebeam.com/art-words-show.
Libraries, bookstores, and history
Turn to another chapter of revisiting Fort Worth’s history at the Fort Worth Public Library. They devote the entire month of June to local history, with special events and readings that they take to the streets—literally—with the Fort Worth History Bike Tour. In June 2016 FWPL is offering library card holders a chance to pedal their way to historic downtown buildings with Cowtown Cycle Party with guide Rick Selcer (the event is limited to ages 18 and up, with limited seating and reservations required).
The Fort Worth Library offers an extensive variety of literary-related events, calendars and community outreach year-round. Fort Worth also famously hosts the Texas Literary Hall of Fame. Founded by the Friends of the Library in 2004, the Texas Literary Hall of Fame honors authors whose body of work enhances Texas’ literary heritage, is original and first published in this country, and has already been recognized for its literary significance. Held biennially, the Hall of Fame is commemorated by the “Texas Tales” painting by Marjorie Stark Buckley hanging in the west wing of the Central Library.
For readers who’d rather own their books than borrow them, Fort Worth boasts more than a dozen new and used bookstores, including Monkey and Dog Books, a children’s bookshop that hosts events throughout the year and a storytime every Wednesday and Thursday at 10:30 a.m. The library is also hosts the Worth Reading Series, bringing many visiting writers to the city.
Fort Worth is also home to the Dock Bookshop, the largest independent, full service, African-American owned bookstore in Texas and the Southwest, which opened in 2008. The Dock hosts a long-running Poetry & Open Mic Tuesday nights at 8:00.
Located in greater Fort Worth are four Barnes & Nobles, three Mardel Christian book stores, three Half Price Books stores, and a Books-a-Million.
Museums and more
Fort Worth’s extensive array of world-class museums have a variety of unique books to purchase as well, and considering that many of the local museums will be featuring exhibits and events related to books in 2016, that should be easy to achieve as you take in their offerings. Perhaps one of the most notable of Fort Worth events is the twenty-fifth anniversary exhibition of Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove, with portions at both the Sid Richardson Museum and the Cowgirl Hall of Fame.
“Lonesome Dove: The Art of Story” runs through June 19 and traces the path of this quintessential Texas work from McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel to the original screenplay and filming of the legendary TV miniseries.
The Sid Richardson Museum is the trailhead, kicking off the multifaceted January-through-June citywide celebration, The Lonesome Dove Reunion and Trail. The Trail includes exhibitions at four museums, along with screenings, seminars, and a reunion gala of the cast and crew of the award-winning 1989 TV miniseries with luminaries Robert Duvall (who portrayed character Gus McCrae), Tommy Lee Jones (who portrayed Woodrow Call), Diane Lane, Anjelica Huston, and others.
At the Modern Art Museum visitors can view the monumental Anselm Kiefer sculpture "Book with Wings," or stroll the Trinity Trails park area to view sculptures representing a wide range of literary history — from Mark Twain reading a book, to Dr. Seuss figures.
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Above: Catch a ride on a bicycle cab tour of Fort Worth, June 2016, by registering through the Fort Worth Public Library
Above: Fort Worth's annual Art & Words Show combines text and image with live music for an evening to reward participants on many levels.
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