New books by Kelton, Gaines, McConaughey, Willie

Glenn Dromgoole (aka That Book Guy) emerges from retirement just long enough to update us on his recent Texas reading.


A few Texas books I’ve been reading lately:


Just in time for Christmas comes a new collection of Western stories by the late, great Elmer Kelton of San Angelo. It’s the third such collection published since his death in 2009. The sixteen stories in The Cowboy Way ($25.99 hardcover) were originally printed in Western magazines, some as far back as the 1950s and others of more recent vintage. Elmer was a terrific storyteller and had a legion of devoted fans, and they will no doubt be thrilled to discover another book of his cowboy tales.


Waco’s Joanna Gaines, of Fixer Upper and Magnolia fame, has written a children’s book, The World Needs Who You Were Made to Be ($19.99 hardcover). She discusses how people see things, and work, in different ways. But, she adds, “all of us can be kind, compassionate, gracious, helpful, considerate, and courageous.”


Actor Matthew McConaughey’s memoir, Greenlights ($30 hardcover), is a whirlwind mix of stories and mystical reflections on life, taken from personal journals he has kept for thirty-five years. McConaughey intersperses the narrative with poems, reflections, and philosophical jottings such as, “I am good at what I love. I don’t love all that I’m good at” and “Sometimes we have to leave what we know to find out what we know.”


In Willie Nelson’s Me and Sister Bobbie: True Tales of the Family Band ($28 hardcover), he and big-sister Bobbie (she’s two years, three months older) alternate writing chapters about growing up in Abbott, Texas, and their adventures, successes, challenges, and tragedies thereafter. Willie is eighty-seven. Bobbie will turn ninety on January 1, and they’re still going strong.


Lubbock novelist/teacher S. J. Dahlstrom, who has won several Western book awards with his Wilder Good series of novels for middle-schoolers, spins another lively outdoor adventure tale in Silverbelly ($9.95 paperback). Dahlstrom is a protégé of John Erickson, author of the hugely popular Hank the Cowdog series.


H. W. Brands, a distinguished author and professor at the University of Texas, has compiled the history of the US, seventeen syllables at a time, in Haiku History: The American Saga Three Lines at a Time ($21.95 hardcover), no doubt the most creative history book I’ve ever encountered.


Three popular Abilene authors have new books this fall:


Dr. Sandip Mathur follows up his Cowboys and Indian: A Doctor’s First Year in Texas with delightful stories from his second year in a small West Texas town in Cowboys and Indian: The Great British Hospital of Texas ($18.50 paperback).


Charles Russell’s seventh novel, My Country, God’s Country ($15 paperback), features characters from his previous novel, When the Cactus Blooms. Charlie writes uplifting multi-generational family stories set on ranches in West Texas and New Mexico.


Abilene’s favorite historian Dr. Jay Moore tells the story of the Dodge Jones Foundation and the generous Ruth Legett Jones/Judy Matthews family who made it possible in Legacy, a handsome coffee-table book ($40) that covers a lot of Abilene history in Moore’s easy-to-read style.  


Glenn Dromgoole, a member of the Texas Literary Hall of Fame, promotes and sells Texas books through Texas Star Trading Company that he and his wife, Carol, own in downtown Abilene.