Lone Star ReviewsMichelle Newby, NBCC,

Contributing Editor

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.

MEMOIR

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.

>> READ MORE

Texas ReadsGlenn Dromgoole

>> archiveTwelve 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 g.dromgoole@suddenlink.net.

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