Books

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

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May 31, 1985

Going Whole Hog

Larry McMurtry’s grand epic, Lonesome Dove, opens with blue snake-eating pigs and goes on to describe unflinchingly the settlement of the American West. Mark Singer’s Funny Money examines the biggest bank failure in U.S. history.

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February 1, 1985

Eavesdropping On History

Max Crawford’s Lords of the Plain is a convincing tale of cavalry and Indians; Thomas McGuane’s Something to Be Desired is an insightful cowtown comedy.

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January 1, 1985

Mexico Refried

A book on Mexico by New York Times correspondent Alan Riding is a little more than a rehash of recent history.

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December 1, 1984

Beyond Kitsch

Frederick Barthelme’s first novel, Second Marriage, is a wondrous tale of love and absurdity set in the Gulf Coast suburbs.

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November 1, 1984

Back in the Huddle Again

Dan Jenkins’ new football novel, Life Its Ownself, picks up where Semi-Tough left off; Heat from Another Sun, a dark detective novel, turns on the gore.

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August 31, 1984

Tangled Lines

William Humphrey’s Hostages to Fortune tells a sodden fishing story; C.W. Smith’s The Vestal Virgin Room tells of an empty quest for fame; Rosemary Catacalos’ Again for the First Time is an outstanding collection of verse.

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April 30, 1984

Uncivil Wars

Civil Wars is armed with first-rate writing; Free Agents is a grab bag of Max Apple’s short fiction; Edisto is a precocious first novel; Group Therapy doesn’t probe deeply enough; Lords of the Earth is yet another Texas oil saga.

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March 1, 1984

Big Oil Paranoia

Robert Sherrill’s Oil Follies of 1979-1980 leaves no detail unremarked in its effort to pin the blame on Big Oil; in Ronnie Dugger’s On Reagan the author is as unbending an ideologue as his subject is.

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November 1, 1983

A Surfeit of Bimbos

In The Desert Rose Larry McMurtry’s heroines never blossom into believable women. The Franchise is a tough tale about graft and the gridiron.

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September 30, 1983

Books Only A Mother Could Love

You too can be an author-if you’re willing to publish the book yourself. All you have to have is a stack of paper, a tale to tell, and a couple of thousand bucks.

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August 31, 1983

Catcher of the Awry

Frederick Barthelme’s Moon Deluxe is a collection of cockeyed tales about stucco camels, supermarket sec and other modern curiosities. In Short Circuit Michael Mewshaw finds fault with the nasty world of professional tennis. The urban vignettes of Laura Furman’s Watch Time Fly range from skillful to so-so.

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June 30, 1983

A Knell for Eric

An Abilene man recalls the pluck and pain of his stricken son in This Is the Child. An El Paso professor creates a lovably uncool detective in Dancing Bear. An Austin meteorologist blows hot on Texas Weather.

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April 1, 1983

Oil Rigged

The Great Energy Scam purports to uncover the collusion of the feds and the oil companies, but the real scandal is what the author overlooks. Yet another book on killer Ted Bundy sheds no light on his crimes. Roughneck is a rousing look at America’s most radical labor union.

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February 1, 1983

As Good as Her Word

Texas women write about crop dusters and frozen custard and the Dallas-Forth Worth International Airport in the encouraging new anthology Her Work. Life Sentences, though, is a flimsy feminist exercise.

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January 1, 1983

A Monumental Man

In The Path to Power Robert Caro brings the Texas of the twenties and thirties to hot, scrubby life, but tries to fit the young Lyndon Johnson into a prefabricated and constricting mold.

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September 30, 1982

The Knickknack Cadillac

The footloose scout in Larry McMurtry's Cadillac Jack travels on and off the beaten track in omnivorous pursuit of women and objects d'art. In The Shadow Line, New-Yorker-turned-Texan Laura Furman captures the atmosphere of Inner Loop Houston.

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August 31, 1982

The New Dominion

Things are looking good for the Sunbelt, says political prognosticator Kevin P. Phillips. Unfortunately, things are looking bad for America.

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April 30, 1982

Gimmie Silver

Beyond Greed is the tale of the Hunts’ journey from silver spoon to silver lust. In Sing Me Back Home Merle Haggard takes a quick look at his life (too quick). Billy Clayton has Gavels, Grit & Glory--or so says his biographer.

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March 1, 1982

The Writer Stumbles

Celebrity is Thomas Thompson’s flawed venture into fiction; The Last Texas Hero deserves a twenty-yard penalty; Peeper is to be read only to find out who the real Tom is.

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September 30, 1981

Waste Makes Money

In With No Fear of Failure you’ll learn how you, too, can turn rags into riches. Daddy’s Girl knows Southern discomfort. Petroleum Politics and the Texas Railroad Commission is the history of our own little OPEC.

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March 1, 1981

Paper Cowboys

Southwest Fiction might make you think that the region is mostly metropolis and no mesquite. The Guadalupe Mountains of Texas hits a lot of high spots.

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February 1, 1981

Blood Luster

Aztec is gripping buts so gory you may have to read it with you eyes closed; Darlin’ Billadds patina to the Wild Bill Hickok legend; as a major American writer, Thomas McGuane has An Outside Chance; Louise Gluck again proves her power as a poet.

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December 1, 1980

High Gloss

Laura Furman handles The Glass House with a little too much care; Elmer Kelton’s novels take you way out West; a new filed guide digs into Texas’ past; Hearts will win yours.

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August 31, 1980

Capote Changes Coler

In Music for Chameleons it’s hard to tell whether Truman Capote is telling the whole truth or nothing at all of the truth; Conspiracy ferrets out much of the truth about John F. Kennedy’s murder.

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January 1, 1980

Dr. Updike

John Updike’s problems are our pleasures. Mean Scrooge McDuck returns in a nostalgic comic-book collection.

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December 1, 1979

Memoir of the Soil

A.C. Greene’s singular, exquisite vision of West Texas; a thriller that’s better than it should be; and a historical novel with too much history.

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September 30, 1979

The Right Wings

In his new book Tom Wolfe poses this question: were the Mercury astronauts men or monkeys? Thomas Thompson changes his journalistic setting from Houston to the far East to produce a book about an astonishing criminal.