Mike Shea

Articles by Mike Shea

Vanilla Ride

Jan 21, 2013 By Mike Shea

There’s no more-welcome sign of the summer reading season than Joe R. Lansdale’s Vanilla Ride, featuring the troublemaking and problem-solving escapades of Hap Collins and Leonard Pine. The unlikely pair of crime fighters (Hap is a white, determinedly heterosexual, underemployed construction worker; Leonard is a black, loudly queer,…

Tour de Lance

Jan 20, 2013 By Mike Shea

In Tour de Lance, Bicycling magazine editor-at-large Bill Strickland uses Lance Armstrong’s return to the Tour de France after a three-year retirement as an opportunity to accompany him through nine grueling months of training and the race itself to take stock of a world-class athlete in a period…

Rick Riordan

Jan 20, 2013 By Mike Shea

In 2005, with seven adult mysteries under his belt, the San Antonio writer and teacher launched a series for kids: Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Now Harry Potter producer Chris Columbus has signed on to bring book one, The Lightning Thief, to the screen. Percy’s print adventures continue with book…

Jimmie Vaughan

Jul 31, 2010 By Mike Shea

The 59-year-old Austin musician is a guitarist’s guitarist. His former band, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, put blues back on the pop charts in the mid-eighties with the single “Tuff Enuff.” After recording a duet album with his brother, Stevie Ray, who passed away soon afterward, he struck out on his own.

Loren D. Estleman

Jul 31, 2010 By Mike Shea

Since publishing his first novel, in 1976, the prolific author has won five Spur Awards in the western genre and four Shamus Awards for his mysteries. His sixty-fifth book zeroes in on the real-life obsession of Judge Roy Bean—one of nineteenth-century Texas’s most colorful jurists—with the British actress Lillie Langtry.

The Surf Guru

Jul 31, 2010 By Mike Shea

Austinite DOUG DORST follows up his darkly comic 2008 debut novel, Alive in Necropolis, with THE SURF GURU, a freewheeling fiction collection that ranges from a story about the neuroses of an Austin baker to a portrait of Vincent van Gogh’s bitterly jealous physician. Dorst draws inspiration from odd sources.

Let’s Take The Long Way Home

Jul 31, 2010 By Mike Shea

LET’S TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME, a shimmeringly lovely second memoir from former Boston Globe books editor GAIL CALDWELL, opens with this brutally heartbreaking sentence: “It’s an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and we shared that too.” Caldwell, an Amarillo…

Galveston

Jul 31, 2010 By Mike Shea

Galveston Island means much more than crab shacks and sunshine to ex-con Roy Cady, the narrator of NIC PIZZOLATTO’s gritty noir debut, GALVESTON. In the year 2008, Galveston is where the former mob goon—now a hunched-over, patch-eyed, dried-out drunk—takes twelve-step meetings at the local Finest Donuts. Twenty years earlier, it…

Justin Cronin

Jun 30, 2010 By Mike Shea

The 47-year-old Rice University professor has taken a hard left turn in his writing career, following up his acclaimed literary novel The Summer Guest (2004) with the just-published The Passage, volume one of a near-future sci-fi trilogy populated by violent vampires (not the dreamy romantics we’ve seen of late) and…

Welcome to Utopia (Notes from a Small Town)

Jun 30, 2010 By Mike Shea

Entertainment Weekly staffer Karen Valby visited Utopia (population 241) in 2006 for an article about American backwaters relatively untouched by popular culture. Intrigued, she returned to research her first book, Welcome to Utopia (Notes from a Small Town), a deftly executed look at the stereotype of a one-horse…

Anna Mitchael

Apr 30, 2010 By Mike Shea

Just Don’t Call Me Ma’am’s subtitle—How I Ditched the South for the Big City, Forgot My Manners, and Managed to Survive My Twenties With (Most of) My Dignity Still Intact—might be unwieldy, but it provides a handy précis of this colorful memoir about the not-always-glamorous adventures of a young advertising…

The Marrowbone Marble Company

Apr 30, 2010 By Mike Shea

Loyal Ledford of Huntington, West Virginia, is the unassuming central figure of THE MARROWBONE MARBLE COMPANY, the lyrical second novel from Texas State grad GLENN TAYLOR, whose debut, The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart, was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award. Ledford’s world is shaped by three…

The Cardturner

Apr 30, 2010 By Mike Shea

LOUIS SACHAR’S young-adult novel Holes spent more than 175 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list, which sets a daunting commercial benchmark for the Austin author’s new effort, THE CARDTURNER. In a move that should deflate retailers’ expectations, Sachar has written a teen book about that most complex and…

David Liss

Jun 30, 2009 By Mike Shea

The San Antonio author has exhibited an impressive sense of worldliness with his literary mysteries, the settings of which range from seventeenth-century Amsterdam to twentieth-century Florida. The Devil’s Company, his sixth novel, returns to eighteenth-century London, where pugilist-turned-PI Benjamin Weaver—who first appeared in A Conspiracy of Paper and later…

The Crack in the Lens

Jun 30, 2009 By Mike Shea

It took four novels for Steve Hockensmith to steer his sleuthing ranch hand brothers, Gustav “Old Red” and Otto “Big Red” Amlingmeyer, to Texas, but the budding town of San Marcos circa 1893 proves a fine fit for The Crack in the Lens and its unpretentious brand of…

Zac Crain

May 31, 2009 By Mike Shea

The former music editor for the Dallas Observer was just another Texas teen when metal rockers Pantera emerged from Arlington in the nineties and went on to sell millions of records and concert tickets worldwide. In BLACK TOOTH GRIN: THE HIGH LIFE, GOOD TIMES, AND TRAGIC END OF “DIMEBAG” DARRELL…

Ignore Everybody (and 39 Other Keys to Creativity)

May 31, 2009 By Mike Shea

In the West Texas town of Alpine, Hugh MacLeod writes Gaping Void, a cheeky blog he launched in August 2001 with the deadpan tagline “Cartoons Drawn on the Back of Business Cards.” Now a 13,000-word essay from the Web site has spawned his first book, Ignore Everybody (and…

The Exchange-Rate Between Love and Money

May 31, 2009 By Mike Shea

First published in England in 2008, The Exchange-Rate Between Love and Money is the kind of inventive, intelligent fiction that now deserves to make a splash stateside for Dallas-bred Thomas Leveritt. Set in Sarajevo circa 2002, it is a sly, tragicomic exploration of commerce, politics, and romance in…

How to Sell

May 31, 2009 By Mike Shea

Rookie novelist Clancy Martin displays a veteran’s savvy when he grabs the reader on the opening page of How to Sell: “The first time I considered jewelry was the morning I stole my mother’s wedding ring. It was white gold. A hundred-year-old Art Nouveau band with eleven diamonds.”…

SQUINT: My Journey With Leprosy

Apr 30, 2009 By Mike Shea

An interview with José P. Ramirez Jr. After being diagnosed in 1968 with Hansen’s disease—more commonly known as leprosy—at the age of twenty, Ramirez was taken from his hometown of Laredo to a leprosarium in Carville, Louisiana, then the only such facility in North America. In SQUINT: MY JOURNEY WITH…

Woodsburner

Apr 30, 2009 By Mike Shea

One year before moving into a small cabin near Walden Pond, 26-year-old Henry David Thoreau accidentally started a fire in Concord Woods that destroyed nearly three hundred acres. In his debut novel, Woodsburner, Austinite John Pipkin identifies that 1844 conflagration as a likely catalyst for Thoreau’s retreat from…

Nobody Move

Apr 30, 2009 By Mike Shea

Having won the National Book Award for 2007’s fever-dreamed Tree of Smoke, former Texas State professor Denis Johnson does a 180 with Nobody Move, a slim but engaging caper novel. Where his previous effort was literarily complex and fraught with geopolitics, the current offering is straight-up crime fiction.

Rupert Isaacson

Mar 31, 2009 By Mike Shea

After their two-year-old son, Rowan, was diagnosed with autism in 2004, the author and his wife, Kristin, struggled with the challenge of finding effective treatment for an incontinent, uncommunicative child given to intractable tantrums. The Horse Boy: A father’s quest to heal his son tells of their journey to…

The Color of Lightning

Mar 31, 2009 By Mike Shea

Stick a thumb into any page of Paulette Jiles’s The Color of Lightning and you’ll pull out a fine prose plum. The San Antonio author has trademarked an offhand lyricism, and she displays it amply in this intelligent Civil War–era novel: “Britt and Mary slept with the two…

The Caryatids

Mar 1, 2009 By Mike Shea

The future has seldom been a copacetic place in sci-fi swami Bruce Sterling’s works of fiction. His eleventh novel, The Caryatids, is set in the bleak year 2065. A global nuclear and climatological disaster has devastated great nation-states like India and America; China has emerged as the ravaged…

Tracy Daugherty

Mar 1, 2009 By Mike Shea

In the sixties and seventies, transplanted Houstonian Donald Barthelme made a splash in the New York literary world with short stories and novels like Snow White and The Dead Father. With Hiding Man, one of his former students—now a distinguished professor of English and creative writing at…

It Will Come to Me

Mar 1, 2009 By Mike Shea

We probably didn’t need another comic novel about life at an absurdly bureaucratic and insular American university, but Houston memoirist Emily Fox Gordon gets a pass for her well-honed and earthy satire It Will Come to Me. Ruth Blau is a 56-year-old faculty wife; her husband, Ben, chairs…

Pratap Chatterjee

Feb 1, 2009 By Mike Shea

An extended interview with the author of Halliburton’s Army: How a Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War.

Pratap Chatterjee

Feb 1, 2009 By Mike Shea

In light of the American military’s increasing dependence on corporate entities, Halliburton’s Army: How a Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War questions our government’s ability to oversee massively profitable armed forces contracts. The author, who lives in Oakland, California, is the managing editor of the investigative…

Sum: Forty Tales From the Afterlives

Feb 1, 2009 By Mike Shea

In the twenty-first century, when the American consumer can choose from among hundreds of flat-screen TVs, David Eagleman’s pocket-size work of philosofiction, Sum: Forty Tales From the Afterlives, is nothing if not culturally consistent: With both a childlike sense of wonder and a trenchant flair for irony, the…

Cutting for Stone

Feb 1, 2009 By Mike Shea

In a sense, Marion Stone, the narrator of Abraham Verghese’s sparkling first novel, Cutting for Stone, is a dramatically enhanced doppelgänger of his creator. Like Verghese, he is born in Ethiopia to Indian parents, becomes a physician, and relocates to America (Verghese moved in the eighties to Tennessee,…

Robb Walsh

Jan 1, 2009 By Mike Shea

Sex, Death & Oysters: A Half-Shell Lover’s World Tour captures the Houston food writer at his best, offering culinary insight, scientific fact, and offbeat humor as he travels the globe in search of the truth about oysters (including their alleged resemblance to the female anatomy and occasional fatal effects). His…

We Agreed to Meet Just Here

Jan 1, 2009 By Mike Shea

A sense of imminent and unskirtable dread hangs like woodsmoke over Texas native Scott Blackwood’s finely wrought first novel, We Agreed to Meet Just Here. Not for the chronically depressed, it is a downbeat parable about life in a middle-class Austin whose residents were born under the proverbial…

Mission: Black List #1

Dec 1, 2008 By Mike Shea

Before his 2003 deployment to Iraq, Army staff sergeant and San Antonio resident Eric Maddox was a military interrogator with virtually no field experience in his area of expertise. Mission: Black List #1, written with Davin Seay, tells the story of his on-the-job training in Tikrit, where…

The Messenger

Dec 1, 2008 By Mike Shea

Ghosts, cemetery dogs, and immortals populate The Messenger, a supernatural thriller from mystery writer Jan Burke, a Houston native best known for her award-winning series starring flesh-and-blood reporter Irene Kelly. The Messenger features Tyler Hawthorne, whose 2008 Los Angeles mailing address belies his 1815 service as a…

Web Exclusive
Jeff Guinn

Dec 1, 2008 By Mike Shea

An extended interview with Jef Guinn, author of The Christmas Chronichles.

Jeff  Guinn

Dec 1, 2008 By Mike Shea

At 735 pages, The Christmas Chronicles might inspire a deeply felt ho-ho-ho-hum from the Santa-averse. But don’t shun these three newly compiled “as told to” Yule novels from the Fort Worth author (The Autobiography of Santa Claus, How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas, and The Great Santa Search). With their…

H. W. Brands

Oct 31, 2008 By Mike Shea

With his twenty-second book, Traitor to His Class, the acclaimed historian and University of Texas at Austin professor brings yet another political giant into focus: Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Do you explode any myths in Traitor to His Class? The rich of Roosevelt’s day blamed him for selling them out…

The Glen Rock Book of the Dead

Oct 31, 2008 By Mike Shea

The Glen Rock Book of the Dead is a quiet tour de force from former Austinite Marion Winik, who ruminates on the meaning and messages to be culled from the deaths (and lives) of fifty-plus individuals who have crossed her path. Within a slim 108 pages, she provides…

Texas Blues: The Rise of a Contemporary Sound

Oct 31, 2008 By Mike Shea

First the bad news: Alan Govenar’s Texas Blues: The Rise of a Contemporary Sound is maddening, a six-hundred-page patchwork of illustrations, interviews, and essays adapted and expanded from his previous works. Sometimes organized by place (East Texas, Austin) and sometimes by theme (zydeco, the saxophone), it affords such…

The Theory of Light and Matter

Oct 31, 2008 By Mike Shea

The stereotypical image of America’s middle class—successful adults shepherding worthy children toward better lives—is turned on its head in Andrew Porter’s beautifully executed short story collection The Theory of Light and Matter. Porter, who teaches creative writing at Trinity University, pulls us through the looking glass into a…

H. W. Brands

Oct 31, 2008 By Mike Shea

With his twenty-second book, Traitor to His Class, the acclaimed historian and University of Texas at Austin professor brings yet another political giant into focus: Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Do you explode any myths in Traitor to His Class? The rich of Roosevelt’s day blamed him for selling them…