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Cartoonist has a little fun with Texas history


Readers of all ages can learn something about Texas history — and have fun doing it — in Merkel author Roger Moore’s book of Texas history cartoons, Texas, My Texas (Great Texas Line Press, $5.95 paperback).


Moore, whose cartoons appear in about twenty-five weekly newspapers, takes a fact or piece of trivia from Texas history and has a little fun with it.


For example, on April 14, 1958, Texas pianist Van Cliburn won a major international piano competition in Russia. The cartoon has Cliburn announcing to the audience, “For my encore, I’d like to do ‘Waltz Across Texas’ in B-flat.” On Aug. 2, 1973, the infamous Chicken Ranch brothel closed in LaGrange. The cartoon has a couple showing up and telling the madam, “We’ve come for the close-out prices on them chickens.”


In another entry, Moore notes that “up to 200 Texas historical markers are added yearly, though not all applications are approved.” The cartoon has a wife’s application being turned down for “Texas’ Most Lazy Man Lives Here.” The book includes some interesting but not well known facts, such as: When the nine-banded armadillo — the state’s official small mammal — gives birth, she always has four identical offspring. Here’s another: The Popeye cartoon character got his start in Texas.


Moore’s cartoons also appear throughout the Texas Correct Calendar he publishes every year. The calendar begins with March 2 — Texas Independence Day — instead of the more traditional January 1.

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LBJ: The University of Texas Press has published a collection of scholarly essays examining LBJ’s Neglected Legacy: How Lyndon Johnson Reshaped Domestic Polity & Government ($29.95 paperback, 480 pages).


Robert H. Wilson (UT), Norman Glickman (Rutgers), and Laurence E. Lynn Jr. (formerly UT, now University of Chicago) edited the volume and contributed the introductory and concluding essays. Thirteen other scholars wrote essays examining LBJ’s legacy in civil rights, immigration, social welfare, education, health, environment, cities, science, and other areas of public policy.


Robert Dallek, author of Flawed Giant: Lyndon Johnson and His Times (1999), argues that despite his failures in Vietnam, Johnson eventually will be remembered as “one of those great humane presidents who helped humanize the American industrial system.” A recent ranking of the thirteen modern-day presidents, beginning with Franklin Roosevelt, put LBJ at the top of the list.


* * * * *

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.



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.



  • Fiction

    Wood, Ernie

    One Red Thread

    Tyrus Books

    978-1-4405-8273-8, hardcover, 336 pgs., $24.99

    May 2014


    If you could go back in time, would you? Would you change events if it were possible to do so? Intervene to prevent a tragedy? Should you? Courage, noble sacrifice or hubris? How would you determine which specific link in the chain to alter, which thread to pull to alter the pattern without the whole tapestry unraveling? Is it even healthy for us to understand “too well” the relationships between those threads? I am mixing my metaphors. Remember the Butterfly Effect. The perfectly chosen epigraph to Part I of One Red Thread is from Ecclesiastes 3:15 — “Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before.”


    One Red Thread, a handsome book, is Austin writer and journalist Ernie Wood’s ambitious and accomplished first novel, taking on no less than time and space as well as history and the slippery nature of truth. Eddy McBride is a fortysomething architect much given to introspection and obsessive observation. He calls his defining habit “wool-gathering.”

  • 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

LONE STAR LISTENS interviews   >> archive


Ben Fountain's long walk to literary recognition


In putting together our ten all-time favorite Texas football titles, we came across one book that we all agreed had to be on the list—Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain. However, to call this novel a book about football would be like describing Billy Lee Brammer’s The Gay Place as only about politics or Larry McMurtry’s The Last Picture Show as solely about dwindling small towns.



Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is a mirror that reflects the Iraq War era, and when we looked into it, we didn’t always like what we saw. Like all defining works, this biting satire stopped readers in their tracks and caused them to reevaluate all the memes about war, patriotism, commercialism, and yes, football.


 Fountain’s personal story is as compelling as his novel. In 1988 he quit his day job as a lawyer to become a writer and stay-at-home dad. When the writing started to pay off he was going to renovate his garage and turn it into a writing space. Day after day, he wrote. Short stories. Articles. Manuscripts. Twenty-four years later his first novel was published, and it became a National Book Award finalist for fiction. We understand that the garage has now been renovated.


Fountain shared his story with Lone Star Listens via a series of emailed questions.


LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE: In 1988, when you were thirty, you quit practicing law and devoted yourself to being a writer and a stay-at-home father when your wife made partner with her law firm. How long had you had the longing to spend your life as a writer?


BEN FOUNTAIN: Well, I’m not sure I was “longing” to be a writer; it was more a sense of, I’ll never have any peace in myself unless I make a serious effort to do this kind of work. Gore Vidal called it “the curse,’ this compulsion or need to write fiction. In a sense you don’t really have a choice, if it’s powerful in you. Or I suppose you do have a choice; you can go off and try to live that mainstream, respectable, nine-to-five life, but you’ll probably go crazy doing it. I certainly was.

Bookish Texas event highlights  8.16.2015
>> GO this week   Michelle Newby, Contributing Editor

  • FORT WORTH  Tues., Aug. 18  The Dock Bookshop, Black Lives Matter Discussion and Open Mic, 8PM


  • HOUSTON  Tues., Aug. 18  Program with Clifton Truman Daniel on Harry & Bess Truman, 5:30 PM

    Asia Society Texas Center, A Conversation with Clifton Truman Daniel, author of Growing Up With My Grandfather: Memories of Harry S. Truman and Dear Harry, Love Bess: Bess Truman's Letters to Harry Truman, 1919-1943, 5:30PM

  • HOUSTON  Wed., Aug. 19  Katy Budget Books, Lunch, discussion and book signing with Sandra Brown, 11:30AM

    Katy Budget Books, Lunch, discussion and book signing with Sandra Brown, 11:30AM. Visit Bookish Texas Events page for other signings throughout the state this week.

  • MASON  Sat., Aug. 22  Mason County Library, Writers' League of Texas: Texas Writes with Carol Dawson and Carol Flake Chapman, 1PM

    Mason County M. Beven Eckert Memorial Library, Writers' League of Texas: Texas Writes with Carol Dawson and Carol Flake Chapman, 1PM

Best selling author Sandra Brown to launch newest thriller in Texas week of August 19


Following the success of her last several hardcover releases, #1 New York Times bestselling author Sandra Brown is embarking on a national tour for the first time in years. With more than 67 New York Times bestsellers and more than 80 million copies of her books in print worldwide, Brown is one of the best-known romantic suspense writers in the world.


Brown’s newest thriller, Friction (Grand Central Publishing Hardcover; August 18, 2015; 978-1455581160; $26) lends her classic fast-paced suspense to a gripping story of family ties and forbidden attraction.




Bird selected for Streep's Screenwriting Lab


New York Women in Film & Television and the Iris film collective have selected twelve screenwriters for the inaugural year of Meryl Streep’s Writers Lab. The program, which is fully funded by Streep, provides script development for female writers over the age of forty. The Writers Lab, presented in collaboration with the Writers Guild of America East, received over 3,500 submissions. >>READ MORE



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,




Larry McMurtry, The Last Picture Show

Simon and Schuster; Thalia Trilogy Series (1999) 9780684853864


Although not a book about football per se, The Last Picture Show is the novel a generation of Texans grew up reading and  the movie that captured the impact of high school football Pulitzer Prize–winner McMurtry showed in the novel. Indeed, Friday Night Lights author Buzz Bissinger cites the book as one of his influences about writing about Texas football himself.  >> 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)


7th annual East Texas Book Fest features 100 authors and more, Aug. 22 in Tyler


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 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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Diverted Heart by Beth Ann Stifflemire


Aug 17 - Because This is My Life, Y’all

Aug 18 - Texas Book-aholic

Aug 19 - TexasBookLover

Aug 20 - Books and Broomsticks

Aug 21 - My Book Fix

Aug 22 - The Crazy Bookseller

Aug 23 - The Page Unbound

Aug 24 - Feather Pens, Tartan Dreams

Aug 25 - A Novel Reality

Aug 26 - Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their Books



Rosco Jack of Gateway Farm by Ken Bangs

Aug 17 - Bookishjessp

Aug 18 - My Book Fix

Aug 19 - All For Love of the Word

Aug 20 - Books and Broomsticks

Aug 21 - Hall Ways

Aug 22 - The Page Unbound

Aug 23 - Texas Book-aholic

Aug 24 - Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their Books

Aug 25 - Because This is My Life, Y’all

Aug 26 - The Crazy Bookseller




Judy Serrano, Easter’s Lilly


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