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  • Dallas: DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University

    978-1-878516-09-1, hardcover,

    160 pages

    April 30, 2015


    Y’all know how writing guides advise an opening line that grabs the reader straightaway? The first essay in this collection addresses too much togetherness: “Searching for the flower clock in the Jardin Anglais, I think of nifty ways to kill my wife.” Yep.


    So begins A Throttled Peacock: Observations on the Old World, Southern Methodist University professor C. W. Smith’s collection of essays inspired by six months in Europe with his wife, Marcia. Smith takes pains to point out that A Throttled Peacock is not a travel guide. He “sought rather to record the psychological, emotional or intellectual shifts that have come from being estranged from [his] usual life….Traveling in foreign countries…encourages comparison and contrast and calls on dormant parts of your psyche the way using weights in a gym results in new aches and pains but also new strengths.”


    With a (mostly) pseudo-curmudgeonly humor, Smith muses on a wide range of subjects. >>READ MORE

  • University of Texas Press

    978-0-292-74907-8, hardcover, $27.95, June 1, 2015


    The Best I Recall, the latest release in the Charles N. Prothro Texana Series from the University of Texas Press, is the much-anticipated memoir by Texan, journalist, novelist, screenwriter, and chameleon Gary Cartwright. During his fifty-year-career, beginning with the police beat for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1956, Cartwright has written about everything from crime and politics to sports and travel (to name a very few), for the Dallas Morning News, Sports Illustrated, Texas Observer, Texas Monthly, Rolling Stone, Harper’s, and National Geographic Traveler, among many, many other publications. He is the winner of a Dobie-Paisano Fellowship and numerous awards, including an Edgar and the Lon Tinkle Award for lifetime achievement from the Texas Institute of Letters.


    The Best I Recall is an earnest and painfully honest (“…that’s who I was – who I am – careless, self-centered, impulsive, and egotistical beyond all telling.”) but rather ordinary account of an extraordinary life. It’s the story of the evolution of an innocent. “We were a generation in which sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll had replaced sock hops, Juicy Fruit, and Patti Page.” The often sobriety-challenged Cartwright’s list of friends and acquaintances includes famous and/or infamous names every Texan recognizes.


In honor of Willie Nelson's annual Fourth of July Picnic, which will take place this year on Sat., July 4, at the Circuit of the Americas' Austin360 Amphitheater, we’re featuring writer Rod Davis’s take on why we like Willie—and why his life story matters.



Willie Nelson, with David Ritz

It’s a Long Story: My Life

400 pgs., 978-0-316-40355-9, $30.00 hardcover (also available in audiobook and other formats)

May 5, 2015


Willie Nelson’s new memoir is out. You’ll buy It’s a Long Story: My Life without any elaboration from me. Because Willie. Because the red-headed stranger has actually been our friend for years.


So let’s get straightaway to the bullets that emerge from this latest of many books about his life, music, and philosophies. He doesn’t say so, but we all know that Willie Nelson is the closest thing to a Texas icon we’ve had since Davy Crockett—both of whom wisely fled Tennessee for Texas. Davy had a storied if truncated career here, but Willie blew the roof off. While his songwriting speaks for itself, through the narrative of his memory we get a real sense of this citizen-musician’s larger impact.


Texas Reads

>> archive

Twelve Texas novels for your summer reading list


Okay, it’s warm and sunny, the days start early and end late, TV is in reruns, you can cook hamburgers outside only so many times, and it’s still a couple of months until the first football kickoff. How about some summer reading? Settle in with a good Texas novel. Head for the beach or the mountains or stay home in the air-conditioning.


“But I’m not into fiction!” you say.


Well, check out these Texas storytellers. Here are a dozen tales I’ve read this year that might open your mind, engage your imagination, broaden your literary horizons, and most of all provide you with several hours of good reading.


Death, Taxes, and Cheap Sunglasses is Diane Kelly’s eighth novel featuring Dallas IRS agent Holloway, who always manages to find herself in hot water as she ferrets out tax cheats.


The Outcasts by Kathleen Kent, a western set in Texas after the Civil War, involves a young Texas state policeman, a ruthless killer, a wily prostitute, and rumors of buried treasure.


The Big Drift by Patrick Dearen is a Spur Award–winning fictional account of the disastrous blizzard in 1884 and the ensuing cattle roundup the next spring.


Ransom Island by Miles Arceneaux is a wacky murder mystery set on the Texas Gulf Coast in 1953, with Galveston gangsters, beer joint characters, and a crazy beach hermit spicing up the action.


Migratory Animals, an acclaimed first novel by Mary Helen Specht, concerns young professionals having to deal with real life financial, medical, family, romantic, and career challenges.


The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward is told from two viewpoints: that of a Honduras girl who longs to join her mother in the U.S., and that of a childless couple who own the most popular barbecue restaurant in Austin.


The Boys of the Dixie Pig, a medical thriller by Stacy Childs, revolves around five men who were best friends as boys in Abilene getting together for a reunion forty years later that will drastically change their lives.


Every Common Sight by Tim Madigan features an aging World War II veteran and a young mother, both of whom bear dark secrets they have been unable to share.


The Trailer Park Princess and the Middle Finger of Fate, a comic mystery by Kim Hunt Harris, blends humor, murder, friendship, and faith into the mix.


One True Heart by Jodi Thomas is the ninth (and last for a while) in her series set in fictional Harmony, Texas. Thomas thinks it is “the funniest book I’ve ever written.”


A Ride Home by Pamela Howell finds two college students literally fighting for their lives in far West Texas, in the middle of nowhere.


Dear Hank Williams by Kimberly Willis Holt is set in 1948. An eleven-year-old girl picks the up-and-coming country singer (Hank Sr.) to be her pen pal.


* * * * *

Glenn Dromgoole is co-author of 101 Essential Texas Books. Contact him at

>> Check out his previous Texas Reads columns in Lone Star Lit

Mad Dogs, Texas Monthly colleagues, and literary friends gather in Austin for Gary Cartwright memoir signing


Longtime friends, former coworkers, and literary lights poured into Scholz Garden in downtown Austin Saturday afternoon, June 27, 2015, to congratulate journalist and author Gary Cartwright (below left, seated) on the publication of his memoir The Best I Recall (University of Texas Press, 2015). >>READ MORE


Writers' League of Texas draws hundreds to Austin conference, grows membership

WLT concludes 22nd annual Agents & Editors Conference


“Put your hands in the air,” keynoter and Corpus Christi native Bret Anthony Johnston (right) instructed several hundred attendees, exhibitors, organizers, and faculty at his Saturday evening talk, part of the 22nd annual Agents & Editors Conference, held at the Hyatt Regency June 26–28, 2015.


Get Centered: Houston author Katherine Center reads and signs her novels Texas tour


Katherine Center (below, center) signs Happiness for Beginners and her other novels for dozens of eager readers Sat., June 27, 2015, in Austin. >>READ MORE




Coming next week: Red Planet Audiobooks

In more ways than one Texas is the Third Coast when it comes to book publishing — and there are more creative professionals in the industry here than you might think. Next week we profile Red Planet Audiobooks, based in Austin. We interviewed RPA about what it takes to make a great audiobook. Texas authors and publishers, be sure check back here next week to learn more about this excellent resource that keeps Texas dollars in Texas.


* * * * *

Celebrate Abilene, the Storybook Capital of Texas, with Shannon exhibition through Sept. 25


For four years running, downtown Abilene has transformed into a childhood adventure, as the annual Children’s Art & Literacy Festival (CALF) celebrates the work of children's illustrated books. Through Sept. 25 the work of 2015 featured artist David Shannon (right), will be on display at the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature in an exhibition titled "David Goes to the Museum." Shannon is the author/illustrator of Duck on a Bike, No, David! series, Good Boy, Fergus!, A Bad Case of Stripes, and more. The festival draws about 3,000 people each year from all over Texas and beyond. Learn more at
>> LISTEN NOW (mp3)




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LONE STAR LISTENS interviews   >> archive
Kimberly Meyer:
On leaving to find your writing voice
















When Houstonian Kimberly Meyer became a mother during her senior year of college, her life changed in ways she could never expect. She had always thought she would travel, but had to set that goal aside. But she never gave up the dream of finding meaning through journey. Years later, she also wanted to share the experience with her oldest daughter, now in college.


The duo left their Houston home behind and spent a summer retracing the footsteps of Felix Fabri, a medieval Dominican friar in whose own travel writings Kimberly found inspiration. Their trip formed the basis of her memoir The Book of Wanderings (Little, Brown, 2015). On the eve of a trip back to Israel, Kimberly talked with Lone Star Literary about her writing life and her singular journey in Lone Star Listens.



LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE: Kimberly, how did you ever get your daughter to let you write this book? I think anyone who knows teenaged or grown daughters would love to know the answer to that question.


MEYER: The truth is that I didn't ask! But I've written about all three of my daughters over the years in many essays, all of which Ellie has read. She told me once that she was my biggest fan. So I think it was just assumed, when I asked Ellie to go with me on that journey, that I would write about it and that she would be part of the story. But as I wrote, I showed her particularly personal passages that I wanted to make sure I had accurately portrayed. And she gave me her own journal from that trip to work from as I wrote. I could never have published this book without her support or approval. 

Bookish Texas event highlights  6.28.2015
>> GO this week   Michelle Newby, Contributing Editor

  • AUSTIN  Mon., June 29, BookWoman, Deborah Harris & Patti Giuffre with Taking the Heat, 7 PM

    BookWoman, Deborah Harris & Patti Giuffre discuss and sign Taking the Heat: Women Chefs and Gender Inequality, 7PM

  • DALLAS  Mon., June 29, Wild Detectives, Shakespeare: Midsummer Night's Dream, 9PM

    The Wild Detectives, Shakespeare in the Bar: A Midsummer Night's Dream, 9PM

  • HOUSTON  Tues., June 30, Bohemeo's, Story|Houston Issue 7 release party, 7 PM

    Bohemeo's, Story|Houston Issue 7 release party: readers include Lacy M. Johnson, Heather Lefebvre, and Austin Tremblay, 7PM

  • AUSTIN  Wed., July 1, We Could Not Fail: The First African Americans in the Space Program (2 events)

    Bullock Museum, High Noon Talk: Steven Moss and Richard Paul present We Could Not Fail: The First African Americans in the Space Program


    BookPeople, Authors & Historians Steven Moss and Richard Paul Speaking and Signing, 7PM

  • DALLAS  Thurs., July 2  Wild Detectives, Joe Lansdale reads and signs Paradise Sky, 7:30PM


Observer: The Ronnie Lee and Jackie Bancroft Spencer Morgan Story, a tale of people, greed,

envy, manipulation... even crime!

Observer: The Colonel George Trofimoff Story, the tale of America's highest ranking military officer

convicted of spying.

Observer: The Prison People; The Prison Experience

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