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Brantlys relate story of their Ebola ordeal


Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly and wife Amber tell the gripping story of their ordeal and their faith in Called for Life: How Loving Our Neighbor Led Us into the Heart of the Ebola Epidemic (with David Thomas, Waterbrook Press, $23 hardcover).


The story, told from both of their points of view, begins with Dr. Brantly’s work as a medical missionary in Liberia. He and Amber, both graduates of Abilene Christian University, had been there just eight months when the Ebola plague hit Liberia, overwhelming local medical facilities and personnel. For nearly six weeks, Brantly often put in twenty-four-hour shifts, sometimes even longer, at the ELWA mission clinic.


Finally, he was due a vacation. On July 20, Amber and their two children flew home to Abilene for Amber’s brother’s wedding. Kent was to join them a week later. But on July 23 he woke up with a fever, and by the end of the week it was confirmed that he had Ebola. He was confined and treated at home by his colleagues. His family, fortunately, had not been exposed because they were already gone when he became ill.


Kent and Amber were able to talk by phone as his condition worsened, and the book’s most poignant chapters — especially “The Day Kent Almost Died” — relate what they were thinking while he fought for his life and she, back home in Texas, could only pray and hope.


Of course, everyone knows how the story ends before reading the book. Brantly became the first patient in the U.S. treated for Ebola — in Atlanta — and eventually walked out of the hospital free of the deadly disease.


But Called for Life goes behind the scenes to offer firsthand accounts of how the disease ravages the body and how the couple’s faith was strengthened as they faced looming death and then miraculous recovery.


* * * * *


Texas  Poet: Cleatus Rattan, the 2004 Texas state poet laureate, from Cisco, has a new, comprehensive volume of poems, A Popular Play (Texas Review Press, $12.95 paperback).


The 200-page collection includes about 150 previously published poems and 50 new ones.


Larry D. Thomas, the 2008 Texas poet laureate, calls it “by any standard, a most impressive body of work.” 2001 Texas poet laureate James Hoggard says, “[I]n this sizably generous work there’s plenty of room for mischief, delight, and praise.”


Rattan was a Marine and a rodeo cowboy before he started teaching at Cisco College and later at Mary Hardin-Baylor.


A Popular Play is a fitting tribute to a Texas poet who has taught, encouraged and inspired hundreds of writers through the years.


* * * * *

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

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


Are you ready for some football (books)?


Lone Star Literary Life’s Best Texas Football Books special section kicks off today, Sun., Aug. 9, 2015.


Two-a-days, the Twelfth Man, and the Cotton Bowl are just some of the iconic touchstones of Texas culture and by extension Lone Star literature.


On Sun., Aug. 9, we pay tribute to the best Texas football books by interviewing H. G. “Buzz” Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights, as his publisher releases the 25th anniversary edition of the book.



  • 8.9.15 

    Champion of the Barrio: The Legacy of Coach Buryl Baty


    Texas A&M University Press

    978-1-62349-266-3, hardcover, 288 pgs., $24.95

    Feb. 9, 2015


    Champion of the Barrio: The Legacy of Coach Buryl Baty by R. Gaines Baty is the latest biography in Texas A&M University Press’s Spirit of Sport: A Series of Books Focusing on Sport in Modern Society. The author, older son of Coach Baty, undertook this project as a way to learn more about the father he hardly remembered, to see the man through the eyes of those he touched so deeply before he was taken so tragically and so young.  >>READ MORE

  • Fiction
    Texas Review Press, 978-1-68003-038-9, 344 pgs., $22.95

    July 15, 2015


    Pretty Enough for You is Cliff Hudder’s rollicking carnival of a debut novel.

    Harrison Bent is a self-absorbed, adolescent middle-aged ne’er-do-well immigration attorney in love with a twentysomething paralegal, married to a Filipino au pair who needed citizenship, with a girlfriend-stalker, whose philosophy is go-along-to-get-along. Playing hooky from responsibility, marinating in rum-Vicodin-Xanax cocktails and lying to his therapist, Bent is assigned a new case. “I knew I was not equipped to deal with the Leudecke case. I also knew I wouldn’t turn it down or hand it off to somebody better suited … what background did I have in eminent domain? Or with Mexican drug dealers? Or dead Mexican drug dealers?” Bent’s also deficient in pyromaniacs, witches, and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, but he gets a crash course. >> READ MORE

LONE STAR LISTENS interviews   >> archive


Buzz Bissinger:
Buzz on Mojo, Twenty-Five Years Later

Buzz Bissinger has been writing books for a quarter of a century, but Texans will always remember him for Friday Night Lights. Odessa Permian sign photo credit Robert Clark (courtesy of Da Capo Press)


Pulitzer Prize–winning author H. G. “Buzz” Bissinger became a household word in Texas a quarter of a century ago with his chronicle of a season in the life of Odessa’s Permian Panthers — the coaches, parents, fans, and the players who bore the brunt of the city’s aspirations as the storied Mojo high school football dynasty. Twenty-five years later Bissinger revisits the story in a 25th Anniversary edition, and he talks with us via email as he gears up to travel across Texas once more.


LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE: When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer?


BUZZ BISSINGER: I knew at the age of nine or ten I wanted to be a newspaper reporter. I grew up in New York City. There were seven different daily newspapers back then and every member of the extended family had a favorite one. Newspapers were everywhere and I fell in love with them, the miracle in my mind that they started afresh every day with new stories and information. I found it very exciting and romantic. \

Bookish Texas event highlights  8.9.2015
>> GO this week   Michelle Newby, Contributing Editor

  • AUSTIN  Fri., Aug. 14  BookPeople, Girls Night Out with Jennifer Weiner and Who Do You Love, 7PM

    BookPeople, Girls Night Out with Bestselling Author JENNIFER WEINER speaking & signing Who Do You Love, 7PM

  • BROWNSVILLE  Sat., Aug. 15  Stillman House Museum, Debra Winegarten signs Oveta Culp Hobby, 12PM

    Stillman House Museum, Debra Winegarten signs Oveta Culp Hobby, 12PM

  • WASKOM  Sat., Aug. 15  Waskom Public Library, Texas Writes program: Lisa Wingate and Kelli Coates Gilbert, 1PM

    Waskom Public Library, Texas Writes program from the Writers' League of Texas: Lisa Wingate and Kelli Coates Gilbert, 1PM

  • SAN ANTONIO  Sun., Aug. 16  BiblioTech, Tinta Digital Pachanga with Gemini Ink: with TX poet laureate Carmen Tafolla and others, 2 PM

    BiblioTech, Tinta Digital Pachanga with Gemini Ink: celebrate literary education and outreach with Poet Laureate of  Texas Carmen Tafolla, Poet Laureate of San Antonio Laurie Ann Guerrero, Andrea "Vocab" Sanderson and George Garza + FOOD, 2PM

Best All-Time Texas Football Books:
A Retrospective


Books about football. Could there be any other place besides Texas where stories about a game could almost create their own genre of literature?


When our readers hear about Texas football titles, their first response is to assume that we’re discussing memoirs of notable Lone Star coaches and players. Or perhaps, works of nonfiction on how to play or coach the game.


But a surprising number of these books are novels in which football defines the culture of the characters. Some of these titles may not take place in Texas, but their authors are so synonymous with Texas football that we’ve included them.


Here are our top ten, and feel free to call an instant replay on us by email if you disagree. Here's our #2; for others,





Jim Dent, The Kids Got It Right: How the Texas All-Stars Kicked Down Racial Walls

St. Martin’s, Reprint Edition (2014) 978-1250053954


One of the prouder moments in Texas gridiron lore was its first high school football integration effort winning the 1965 Big 33, a huge spectacular of an All-Star game in its time. Following a trouncing by a stellar Pennsylvania team the previous year, coach Bobby Layne met with then governor John Connally with a request for African Americans to be included on the team, noting that black players on the opposition had made the difference. Connally approved but demanded a win. Dent accurately provides the rigid Jim Crow backdrop of Texas against which the three black players were chosen--Jerry LeVias, James Harris, and George Dunford. The book focuses on the strong bond between LeVias and his white teammate, quarterback Bill Bradley, a partnership that dissipates the legacy of hate to triumph in the 1965 big game.  >> READ MORE


15th annual West Texas Book Festival, Sept. 21–26, 2015, announces featured authors


The West Texas Book Festival, which will celebrate its 15th annual festival this year during the week of September 21-26 at the Abilene Public Library in Abilene, Texas, announced its lineup of authors this week.


The festival seeks to celebrate books, literacy, and reading, with a special emphasis on local and regional authors. The event is community driven and provides the public with the chance to interact with local authors on a more personal level. The festival includes a number of meet and greet sessions as well as readings and talks. For more information contact Janis Test at (325) 676-6017.


Clockwise from upper left: O'Neal, Bissinger, Castillo, Kent, Thomas, Dearen, Specht (photos from Amarillo Public Library website)


100 authors, creative writing experts, musicians, and performers slated for 7th annual East Texas Book Fest


The seventh annual East Texas Book Fest takes place on Friday, Aug. 21, and Saturday, Aug. 22, in Tyler's Harvey Convention Center, located at 2000 West Front Street, Tyler. The event is free.

     One hundred Texas authors who write in many genres and for all ages will display their books and chat with readers.



Bissinger Texas events for 25th Anniversary Friday Night Lights


In conjunction with Da Capo Press's Aug. 11 publication of the 25th anniversary edition of  Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream, author H. G. “Buzz” Bissinger returns to Texas for a series of events. The publisher announced the following schedule this week:


Buzz Bissinger Book Events, Fall 2015

  • 9/14/15, Hastings (Odessa, TX), 7 p.m., with support from the Odessa Council for the Arts and Humanities
  • 9/15/15, High School TBD (Midland, TX)—morning or lunchtime solo talk
  • 9/15/15, Midland County Public Library (Midland, TX), Centennial branch, 5:30-6:30 p.m., solo talk, B&N to sell books
  • 9/15/15, Yucca Theater (Midland, TX), 7:30 p.m.—panel moderated by Jay Hendricks, CBS 7 anchor; ticketed event as fundraiser for Midland County Public Library Foundation
  • 9/16/15, Brazos Bookstore (Houston, TX), 7 p.m.
  • 9/18/15, Abilene Public Library (Abilene, TX), 12 p.m., Texas Star Trading Company to sell books
  • 9/19/15, Half Price Books (Dallas, TX), 2 p.m.
  • 9/20/15, BookPeople (Austin, TX), 2 p.m.


Bissinger kicks off month of literary/literacy events in Midland and Permian Basin, September 2015


Buzz Bissinger, author of the classic Friday Night Lights, returns to the Permian Basin in September and will be an active participant in many literary and literacy events in Midland and Odessa. Midland has a rich schedule of literary events in September including Project Literacy and the Permian Basin Writers Workshop.  >> LISTEN NOW (mp3)






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Judy Serrano, Easter’s Lilly

 Aug 6 - Books and Broomsticks

Aug 7 - A Novel Reality

Aug 8 - Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their Books

Aug 9 - The Page Unbound

Aug 10 - Texas Book-aholic

Aug 11 - Because This is My Life, Y’all

Aug 12 - TexasBookLover

Aug 13 - My Book Fix

Aug 14 - Bookishjessp

Aug 15 - The Crazy Bookseller



Cliff Hudder, Pretty Enough for You (Texas Review Press, paperback, July 15, 2015, 344 pgs., 978-1680030389). Selected by Lone Star Literary Life as a Best Texas Beach Read 2015. Ne’er-do-well immigration attorney Harrison Bent is trying to juggle an angry wife, an inscrutable stalker, an obsessed girlfriend, and an unsolved murder, while trying to forge a successful outcome to a case that might revive his career and help pay for his autistic son’s special school, and his day has just started. Author Cliff Hudder takes Harrison’s story on the road in a Lone Star Book Blog Tour.



The Prison Trilogy by Glen Aaron (Amazon Digital Services, paperback, 2015).

The Ronnie Lee and Jackie Bancroft Spencer Morgan Story, a tale of people, greed, envy, manipulation... even crime. When Jackie Bancroft's husband died in 1952, he left her an heiress.

Almost fifty years later, Jackie would marry Ronnie Lee Morgan, a fifty-year old gay interior decorator. Morgan was one of many clients in the active law practice of author Glen Aaron. This unusual marriage lasted until Jackie's mysterious death five years later. Throughout that period, Aaron became entwined in the personal lives and demands of the couple, along with handling many of their legal affairs. This book in Aaron’s Prison Trilogy tells that inside story.

Watch for dates beginning July 30.


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