Mike Shea

Author's Profile Photo

Articles by Mike Shea

Eureka

Sep 30, 2007 By Mike Shea

Texas-raised news anchor Jim Lehrer is too much the gentleman to author a full-blown satire, but he’s not above a genial send-up of middling America—the Midwest, the middle class, and the midlife crisis—in his crisply executed novel Eureka. Fifty-nine-year-old insurance executive Otis Halstead, secretly frustrated over his abandoned…

Clayton Williams

Sep 30, 2007 By Mike Shea

The colorful Midland oilman, profiled by journalistMike Cochran in Claytie: The Roller-Coaster Life of a Texas Wildcatter, has made and lost fortunes, but he is best known for his unsuccessful 1990 gubernatorial campaign against Ann Richards. The oil business has always been boom and bust. Which is more satisfying,…

Tree of Smoke

Aug 31, 2007 By Mike Shea

Vietnam. Thirty-plus years after helicopter airlifts signaled the fall of Saigon, the name still evokes ghastly images of napalm-scorched children and ad hoc executions by handgun. Denis Johnson, author of Jesus’ Son and currently the Mitte chair of creative writing at Texas State University, summons that communal memory to…

Whitley Strieber

Aug 31, 2007 By Mike Shea

Since revealing his 1985 abduction by nonhuman visitors, the best-selling author has garnered as much attention for his opinions on alien life-forms as for his fiction. His new novel, 2012: The War for Souls, has been optioned by Warner Bros. for Michael Bay (Transformers) to direct. What’s the…

SERIAL THRILLERS: Our PIs return.

Jul 31, 2007 By Mike Shea

In a case of coincidental plot devices, two of Texas’s favorite fictional gumshoes recently swore off the detecting business because of an unfortunate tendency to call down death on their nearest and dearest. But quitting the private-eye racket is easier said than done, and the summer reading pile finds both…

What Gives

Jul 31, 2007 By Mike Shea

“i think/i am going to die tonight./and some-thing inside me/looks forward to it./and something inside me/is twisting my intestines around,/trying to make letters out of them,/trying to spell the word/NO.” When sixteen-year-old Chelsea Marie wrote those chilling words a little over a year ago, she had also composed a…

Michael Erard

Jul 31, 2007 By Mike Shea

The Austin journalist and linguistics expert ponders the nature of speech imperfections and what verbal gaffes reveal, or don’t, in Um…Slips, Stumbles, and Verbal Blunders, and What They Mean. What qualifies as a “verbal blunder”? It can be a slip of the tongue or any moment where something we’ve…

Pepperfish Keys

Jun 30, 2007 By Mike Shea

In Pepperfish Keys, the fourth in Austinite Darryl Wimberley’s mystery series, Detective Barrett “Bear” Raines—a black cop on Florida’s racially charged Redneck Riviera—struggles to tell the good guys from the bad. Is Senator Baxter Stanton the people’s servant or a sleazebag who bribed his way out of a…

Evacuation Plan: A Novel From the Hospice

Jun 30, 2007 By Mike Shea

Belying its subtitle, Joe M. O’Connell’s fiction debut, Evacuation Plan: A Novel From The Hospice, has surprisingly little to say about death. Not that anyone at this unnamed Austin hospice cheats the grim reaper. But these dozen stories and character studies offer scant insight into the ritual of…

Heartbreak Town

Jun 30, 2007 By Mike Shea

Marsha Moyer’s whip-smart storytelling elevates the amiable chick lit of her third Lucy Hatch book, Heartbreak Town, well above the genre. When we last saw Lucy, she and singer-songwriter husband Ash had moved to Nashville to work his label deal. But when record sales sag, Ash escapes into…

Tom Wright

Jun 30, 2007 By Mike Shea

In the sixties, at London’s Ealing Art College, a student named Pete Townshend was introduced by his Alabama-born classmate, Tom Wright, to both mind-altering substances and American rhythm and blues. Townshend went on to lead the Who, while Wright became a photographer, road manager—and sometimes Texas resident. Roadwork: Rock &…

Forgive Me

May 31, 2007 By Mike Shea

In AMANDA EYRE WARD’s cinematic third novel, FORGIVE ME, the Austin writer beautifully spans the physical and social divide between Cape Town, in the waning days of apartheid, and Cape Cod, where journalist Nadine Morgan wrestles with the all-consuming ambition that finds her both single and childless but desperately wanting…

The Beautiful Miscellaneous

May 31, 2007 By Mike Shea

If genius truly skips a generation, what becomes of the moderately stellar offspring of brilliant parents? In his wry and affecting THE BEAUTIFUL MISCELLANEOUS, Austinite DOMINIC SMITH probes the fate of Nathan Nelson, who must suffer his quark-physicist father’s efforts—whiz kid camps, science drills—to mold him into a prodigy. While…

Stormy Weather.

Apr 30, 2007 By Mike Shea

San Antonio’s PAULETTE JILES combines telling period detail and credible characters to evoke Depression-era Texas in her terrific second novel, STORMY WEATHER. The Stoddard women—mother Elizabeth and daughters Jeanine, Mayme, and Bea—are faced with the challenge of surviving not just the death of drinking, gambling, horse-racing breadwinner Jack but also…

Elmer Kelton

Apr 30, 2007 By Mike Shea

Born on the Five Wells Ranch, in Andrews County, this consummate Texas writer has authored almost fifty books and been voted the greatest western writer of all time by his peers. Sandhills Boy: The Winding Trail of a Texas Writer is a thoughtful look back at 81 years on earth.

The Virgin’s Guide to Mexico

Apr 30, 2007 By Mike Shea

The Price clan, of Austin’s well-heeled West Lake Hills neighborhood, inhabits ERIC B. MARTIN’s third novel, THE VIRGIN’S GUIDE TO MEXICO, as a less than holy family. Truitt, a prosperous businessman, suspects his wife, Lindy, of cheating on him, primarily because he is unfaithful to her. Lindy, stylish and beautiful,…

The Men’s Guide to the Women’s Bathroom

Mar 31, 2007 By Mike Shea

THE MEN’S GUIDE TO THE WOMEN’S BATHROOM is a spunky debut novel from JO BARRETT that aspires, with mixed results, to break through the glass bookshelf of the chick-lit ghetto. Readers will recognize the likes of Claire St. John, a self-effacing, thirtyish divorcée who flees her New York law career…

The King of Colored Town

Mar 31, 2007 By Mike Shea

In his provocatively titled THE KING OF COLORED TOWN, longtime Austinite DARRYL WIMBERLEY offers an impassioned and eloquent piece of storytelling set in the last days of the Jim Crow South. The tone is somber from the outset: Cilla Handsom, a black musician summoned away from her command performance at…

Berkeley Breathed

Mar 31, 2007 By Mike Shea

Having nabbed a 1987 editorial cartooning Pulitzer for his satirical strip Bloom County, the onetime Austinite went on to write and illustrate kids’ books as well as the widely syndicated Sunday funny Opus. His new book, Mars Needs Moms!, is aimed squarely at the OshKosh B’Gosh crowd. Mars Needs Moms!…

When the Light Goes

Mar 1, 2007 By Mike Shea

Be thankful LARRY MCMURTRY decided his Thalia trilogy deserved a fourth book, because WHEN THE LIGHT GOES is an essential (though not to say concluding) chapter in the Duane Moore saga. Duane, introduced as a callow teen in The Last Picture Show but now a big-deal oilman in his tiny…

Steven Saylor

Mar 1, 2007 By Mike Shea

The Austin novelist famous for his Roma Sub Rosa series of historical mysteries delivers his magnum opus, Roma, this month. The engrossing tale tracks Rome from its origins as a stop on a salt trade route through the story of Antonius and Cleopatra. Was it inevitable that your series…

Ravi Batra

Feb 1, 2007 By Mike Shea

In The New Golden Age: The Coming Revolution Against Political Corruption and Economic Chaos, the best-selling author and Southern Methodist University professor of economics expounds on corruption and the keys to global prosperity. Your new book identifies a laundry list of global economic problems. Can you single out the most…

Chasing Justice

Feb 1, 2007 By Mike Shea

As a Texas death row in-mate trying to prove himself innocent of a rape and murder in Tyler, KERRY MAX COOK was reminded of his fate every time another con made the death walk. CHASING JUSTICE is a hellish tour of a criminal justice system whose officers allegedly railroaded Cook…

Lost Echoes

Feb 1, 2007 By Mike Shea

In his newest genre-bending thriller, LOST ECHOES, six-time Bram Stoker Award winner JOE R. LANSDALE writes, as always, with the ease of a man born to the task. Meet young Harry Wilkes, of Mud Creek, who hears “dark sounds” from violent events of the past in the places they occurred.

Rollergirl: Totally True Tales from the Track

Feb 1, 2007 By Mike Shea

ROLLERGIRL: TOTALLY TRUE TALES FROM THE TRACK, the memoir from Austin roller derby star MELISSA “MELICIOUS” JOULWAN, proves the cliché: You really can’t judge a book by its cover. In this case, a photo of two leggy skaters in the miniest of skirts (and is that a flash of panty?)…

Murder Among the OWLS: A Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mystery

Jan 1, 2007 By Mike Shea

MURDER AMONG THE OWLS, the fourteenth offering in BILL CRIDER’s Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mystery series, has no literary conceits; it is nothing more—nor less—than a pleasant police procedural set in the sleepy burg of Clearview. This time out, Rhodes is faced with the apparent slip-and-fall death of seventyish neighbor Helen…

Sunset Limited

Jan 1, 2007 By Mike Shea

Imagine a stage play with two characters in a ghetto tenement debating the value of life: White is a professor who jumped in front of a train, and Black is the ex-con who rescued him. This is the premise, weighted with all the pretensions of an Intro to Dramaturgy effort,…

Alternadad

Jan 1, 2007 By Mike Shea

Even the most cynical hipsters are terminally charmed by their own offspring, which explains how the birth of NEAL POLLACK’S first child, Elijah, sparked the satirist’s transformation—with the publication of ALTERNADAD and an online column of the same name—into America’s postmodern Erma Bombeck. Pollack writes of moving from Philly to…

Daniel Quinn

Jan 1, 2007 By Mike Shea

The Houston-based author first reached a widespread audience with his innovative novel Ishmael. His new book, If They Give You Lined Paper, Write Sideways, attempts to explain how he derives his ideas. Your book is drawn from a transcribed dialogue between you and a woman named Elaine. How did you…

La Vida Brinca

Dec 1, 2006 By Mike Shea

If simplicity can be the hallmark of genius, BILL WITTLIFF earns a gold seal for the sepia-toned photos in  La Vida Brinca (“Life Jumps”). The Austinite, who is probably better known as the screenwriter of Lonesome Dove and The Perfect Storm than as a photographer, has turned a decade-long fascination…

Between Heaven and Texas

Dec 1, 2006 By Mike Shea

BETWEEN HEAVEN AND TEXAS is dazzling. In a collection of meticulous prints, WYMAN MEINZER (who was proclaimed official state photographer in 1997 by then-governor George W. Bush) captures the limitless permutations of the Lone Star sky, from the serenity of cottony cumulus puffs to the bruising purple of a stormy…

Weeping Mary

Dec 1, 2006 By Mike Shea

Black-and-white is more than the chosen medium in WEEPING MARY, a photo essay about the tiny Texas town with this unusual name by  Texas Monthly contributing photographer O. RUFUS LOVETT. It’s also the unmentioned divide embodied by a white lensman’s documenting of a poor and predominantly black community. Lovett’s fine…

The Amazing Faith of Texas

Dec 1, 2006 By Mike Shea

Even cynics can find inspiration in THE AMAZING FAITH OF TEXAS, a surprisingly affecting survey of fifty Texans and their beliefs from GSD&M ad agency honcho ROY SPENCE. With brief interviews by Mike Blair and telling portraits by Randal Ford, these microbiographies delve into the creeds of Baptists, Buddhists, Baha’is,…

In a Special Light

Nov 1, 2006 By Mike Shea

It’s tempting to focus on ELROY BODE’s celebrations of life’s simple pleasures (birds, interesting strangers, barbershops) in this El Pasoan’s new collection of microscopically short ruminations, IN A SPECIAL LIGHT. But there is no denying the insistent melancholy (verging on depression) that gives the book grit and balance. Bode cuts…

The Lives of Rocks

Nov 1, 2006 By Mike Shea

Fort Worth native RICK BASS has loaded his earthy story collection, THE LIVES OF ROCKS, with three-way relationships of all stripes—platonic, romantic, familial, adversarial—and with characteristic economy of language, he mines a wide range of human emotion from these mélanges à trois. “Goats” is a gentle slapstick about two teenage…

Douglass St. Clair Smith

Nov 1, 2006 By Mike Shea

The SubGenius Psychlopaedia of Slack: The Bobliographon is—how to put this—the most unusual text most folk will ever encounter. Its Fort Worth–bred author-editor midwifed the birth of the for-profit Church of the SubGenius (“the only religion to pay its taxes”) more than 25 years ago and remains the wizard behind…

The Long Night of Winchell Dear

Nov 1, 2006 By Mike Shea

At a mere 158 pages, THE LONG NIGHT OF WINCHELL DEAR calls to mind that kvetch of the hoary Catskills resort patron: “The food is terrible—and such small portions!” To be fair, the latest from brand-name Hill Country novelist ROBERT JAMES WALLER is not terrible, but it is disappointing—slapdash and…

Goodnight, Texas

Sep 30, 2006 By Mike Shea

The citizens of WILLIAM J. COBB’s GOODNIGHT, TEXAS know hard times have reached their Gulf fishing town. The rising sea is flooding homes. Shrimp boats return to port empty; their owners give up and leave them docked. A humongous stuffed zebra fish with a horse in its mouth, newly…

The Road

Sep 30, 2006 By Mike Shea

First there were explosions, then the world seemed to be on fire, and now there is just the man and the boy hiding in a sheltered wood—father and son, left to travel alone after the boy’s mother opened her wrists in despair. Such is the face of America’s destiny in…

Mark Zupan

Sep 30, 2006 By Mike Shea

The Oscar-nominated documentary Murderball introduced audiences to this world-class athlete and his sport: quad rugby, played in wheelchairs at a headlong pace. Gimp: When Life Deals You a Crappy Hand, You Can Fold—or You Can Play (with co-writer Tim Swanson) is a warts-and-all memoir, from the accident that left him…

Dark Angels

Aug 31, 2006 By Mike Shea

It was twenty years ago that Houstonian KARLEEN KOEN’s fiction debut, Through a Glass Darkly, enjoyed a five-month stay on the New York Times best-seller list. The eighteenth-century historical novel eventually tallied about $2 million in sales, which makes commercial expectations for its follow-up (“long-awaited” seems inadequate), DARK ANGELS, plenty…

The History Of Swimming

Aug 31, 2006 By Mike Shea

There’s an undercurrent of hysteria that threatens to sink KIM POWERS’s memoir, THE HISTORY OF SWIMMING, though the melodramatics have honest roots in the town of McKinney and his classically dysfunctional family: a successfully suicidal mother, an alcoholic father, and a trio of gay brothers whose youngest is plagued by…

Uncivilized Beasts & Shameless Hellions

Aug 31, 2006 By Mike Shea

JOHN F. BURNETT proves a new truism—that all news is local—as he reports on the state of affairs in newsworthy locales from Kosovo to Waco in UNCIVILIZED BEASTS AND SHAMELESS HELLIONS: TRAVELS WITH AN NPR CORRESPONDENT. The twenty-year veteran of public radio, who calls Austin home, takes a measured approach…

Alan Weisman

Aug 31, 2006 By Mike Shea

A 33-year career in broadcast news, including lengthy stints with CBS Evening News and 60 Minutes, gave this writer and producer an ideal perch from which to view Texas-born newshound Dan Rather, the subject of Lone Star: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Dan Rather. Can you point to…

Allen Wier

Jul 31, 2006 By Mike Shea

What about this era appealed to your novelist instincts? During the war, so many men left Texas to fight in the East that the Comanches moved the western frontier eastward by one hundred to two hundred miles. In June of 1875 Quanah Parker and his tribe were the last Comanches…

Fear

Jul 31, 2006 By Mike Shea

JEFF ABBOTT’s star has been slowly but steadily on the rise. A string of paperback-only mysteries earned the Austin writer a bump up to the hardcover big leagues. His second hardback, FEAR, is a pharmaco-thriller about a clandestine medical clinic (cue diabolical laughter) experimenting with Frost, a drug that smoothes…