Books

Reviews, profiles, and interviews that capture the diverse voices adding to Texas’s rich literary tradition

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April 1, 1998

CD and Book Reviews

Hot CDs This month Texas music shines on the silver screen. The soundtrack for The Horse Whisperer (MCA) not only features cuts from Don Walser, George Strait, and Steve Earle but also a Butch Hancock—Joe Ely— Jimmie Dale Gilmore reunion (long removed from Lubbock, they are now called the Hill…

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April 1, 1998

Kid Stuff

My literary mentor warned me not to write about my children. So why did I? Because I had to.

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September 30, 1997

CD and Book Reviews

Hot CDs Few voices evoke the pathos of country and western tragedy as genuinely as the rich, honeyed timbre of George Jones. By 1962, the year Jones signed with the United Artists label, the East Texan had been divorced, jailed, and was already as legendary for his hard drinking as…

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September 30, 1997

Writes of Passage

Getting published was supposed to be a cure-all, but for Austinite Louise Redd, it was just another chapter in the life of a struggling novelist.

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August 31, 1997

CD and Book Reviews

Hot CDs Running on equal parts inspiration and gumption, Austin’s Damnations are the alternative to alternative country, going way back for tunes like “Copper Kettle,” forward for a romp through Lucinda Williams’ “Happy Woman Blues,” and their own way with impressively traditional-progressive originals. The mostly acoustic Live Set (Damnations), pressed…

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August 31, 1997

My Willie

Willie Nelson and I have been friends for years, so why did I decide only now to make him a character in one of my mystery novels? The plot thickens.

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July 31, 1997

CD and Book Reviews

Hot CDs West Texas bluesman Long John Hunter plays even more guitar than usual on Swinging From the Rafters (Alligator), and that’s a lot of guitar. Hunter represents the party-down end of the blues spectrum; he’s gotta poke fun at himself even when he’s ostensibly down-and-out, as on “I’m Broke.”…

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May 31, 1997

CD and Book Reviews

Hot CDs The Horsies are an extremely unusual outfit, so it figures that the perverse, polymorphously percussive Austin combo’s second record, Touch Me Columbus, is only available on the relatively obscure Japanese label Benten (though some Texas record stores will be carrying it). A giddy three-man, three-woman band with five…

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May 31, 1997

The Doctor Is In

For El Paso physician Abraham Verghese, writing about life and death in the age of AIDS is a prescription for literary success.

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April 1, 1997

Teen Idol

The career of Austin young-adult writer Rob Thomas is going through a growth spurt.

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April 1, 1997

CD and Book Reviews

Hot CDs Sing, Cowboy, Sing: The Gene Autry Collection (Rhino) is a three-CD set featuring 84 favorites by the singing cowboy from Tioga. But these aren’t always the best-known versions; many are previously unreleased transcriptions from his Melody Ranch radio show that measure up well and thus add to the…

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March 1, 1997

Lindependence

Poetry about a 161-year-old battle is hardly what you’d expect from a high-minded political writer, but fifth-generation Texan Michael Lind has always been a maverick.

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February 1, 1997

CD and Book Reviews

Hot CDs Miss Lavelle White’s It Haven’t Been Easy (Antone’s/Discovery) is essentially a primer on modern blues. Houston-bred and currently Austin-based, White is equally comfortable with a soul ballad like the title song, an up-tempo scorcher like “Can’t Take It (I Don’t Give a Damn),” the self-explanatory “Wootie Boogie,” or…

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February 1, 1997

Space Cadet

Painful implants and alien abduction experiences may sound like science fiction, but to San Antonio writer Whitley Strieber, they’re frighteningly real.

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January 1, 1997

CD and Book Reviews

Hot CDs In the sixties, Mayo Thompson’s The Red Krayola was a Houston psychedelic band with a writer—Frederick Barthelme—for a drummer. Thirty years later, the amorphous experimental outfit has a new lineup that makes music with the help of such guests as Minutemen alumnus George Hurley, but time has not…

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December 1, 1996

CD and Book Reviews

Hot CDs Along with Nat “King” Cole, Texas City native Charles Brown became the father of late-night “cocktail blues” in Los Angeles in the forties. Half a century later, Honey Dripper (Verve/Gitanes) vividly conjures up Brown’s suave, stylish world. His voice is sweet and smoky like a rich cigar and…

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November 1, 1996

CD and Book Reviews

Hot CDs Two years after their wildly successful debut, Elida y Avante bounce back from label troubles with Algo Entero (Tejas). For my money, Mercedes-born Elida Reyna is tejano’s next female superstar. Her husky, throbbing voice is mature well beyond her 24 years—she has the archetypal blend of innocence and…

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July 31, 1996

Nye Anxiety

San Antonio poet, essayist, and anthologist Naomi Shihab Nye is completing work on her first novel. The protagonist of Habibi (Simon and Schuster) is an Arab American teenage girl in present-day Jerusalem. The book is based, Nye says, on her own “travels and travails before coming to Texas” and explores…

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June 30, 1996

CD and Book Reviews

Hot CDs Braver Newer World (Elektra) might well be the record that Jimmie Dale Gilmore has always wanted to make. A radical departure in both instrumentation (the sitar and fuzz guitars of the title track) and arrangements (the overhaul of Joe Ely’s “Because of the Wind”), it’s the closest the…

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May 31, 1996

CD and Book Reviews

Hot CDs Grammy award aside, Flaco Jiménez’s last solo album was a big disappointment, for it showed how far Texas’ greatest accordionist had strayed. After all those studio sit-ins with the likes of the Rolling Stones and Dwight Yoakam and those trips around the globe as the ambassador of Tex-Mex,…

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April 1, 1996

Wild About Harry

Houston attorney-novelist Eric L. Harry flashed on the idea for his new technothriller while rafting on a river. In Society of the Mind (Harper Collins, $25), due out in June, a mad genius lures a young Harvard professor to his secret island compound to psychoanalyze an equally disturbed computer…New York…

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March 1, 1996

Colum McCann

Some words are worth a thousand pictures; such is the case with the image-rich writing of Colum McCann, whose first novel, Songdogs (Metropolitan Books, $22.50), has won praise from both The New Yorker and the New York Times. A native of Ireland, the 31-year-old credits Texas with jump-starting his career.

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March 1, 1996

Bookends

The conventional wisdom is that the independents are good and the national chains are evil—but don’t judge a bookstore by its cover.

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December 1, 1995

The Good Old Boy

After four decades of writing classic Texas novels, there’s no denying that San Angelo’s Elmer Kelton has earned his Spurs.

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September 30, 1995

Walker, Texas Writer

Mary Willis Walker’s mysteries aren’t exactly original, but she crafts real moments of tension. That’s why they sell so well and win so many awards.

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August 31, 1995

Basking in It

If the literary novel is dead, then why is Baskerville Publishers in Dallas flourishing?…

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July 31, 1995

Ripe Apple

Twenty years after he began critiquing modern society, Houston writer Max Apple is enjoying the fruits of his labor.

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June 30, 1995

Family Karr

With The Liar’s Club, a dark and lyrical memoir, a stiking new voice emerges from the oil patch.

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June 30, 1995

What Really Happened at Waco

Just as congressional hearings are set to begin, an exclusive excerpt from a new book casts a different light on the government’s role in the fiery end to the siege at Mount Carmel.

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June 30, 1995

Family Plot

For Dallas writer Carlton Stowers, Sins of the Son is more than just another true crime story. The son is his own.

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May 31, 1995

Cheap Thrills

From “Lone State Doom” to “Land of Violent Men,” a look back at Texas’ classic pulp fiction.

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April 1, 1995

Lonesome Cowboy

A year after Robert James Waller left Iowa for the quieter climes of Big Bend, the best-selling author is discovering that it’s one thing to live like Texan and quite another to be one.

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September 30, 1994

Hot and Heavy

A saga of lust and revenge with a corpulent heroine establishes Carol Dawson as Texas' most promising new writer.