MY MATERNAL GRANDMOTHER, Grandma Page, was up at three-thirty or four o’clock in the morning to bake and churn and get ready for the cotton fields on our family farm in Bloomington. At night, after all the cooking and sewing, there was energy left for her reading. “Come, Danny, I’ll
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.
Hot CDsRunning 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 in
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.
Doing the write thing.
This month Eakin Press will publish The Alamo Almanac and Book of Lists. Among the interesting items compiled by author William R. Chemerka is one that has nothing to do with history—not really, anyway: It’s the Top Twenty Most Frequently Asked Questions at the Alamo.1. “Where’s the bathroom?”2. “Is this
Hot CDsWest 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.” With
Growing up in Houston, J. C. Herz spent much of her time defending the city from incoming ballistic missiles. She accomplished this while sitting in front of her family’s television and playing Missile Command—just one of the many video games lovingly described in her second book, Joystick Nation (Little, Brown;
A Dallas lawyer’s roman à Clinton.
Hot CDsThe real pleasure in Toni Price’s Sol Power (Antone’s/Discovery/Sire) is trying to peg her as country, blues, or folk. Whether she’s singing something silly and simple, such as “Cats and Dogs,” or taking the sultry and sublime route, as when she covers Allen Toussaint’s “Funky,” the Austinite offers an
Hot CDsThe 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 often
For El Paso physician Abraham Verghese, writing about life and death in the age of AIDS is a prescription for literary success.
Hot CDsAbra Moore’s wispy, quivering voice works hard to be heard among the loud, rude guitars of Strangest Places (Arista/Austin). It’s a far cry from her earlier, softer work with Poi Dog Pondering and as a solo artist. Even when she falters, the Austinite’s transformation into a rocker adds resonance
If you’re a celebrity who wants to pen a book, who you gonna call? Ghostwriters.
Texas City lives on, fifty years after the infamous explosion.
The career of Austin young-adult writer Rob Thomas is going through a growth spurt.
Hot CDsSing, 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 Autry
It would be wrong to say that Bud Shrake has finished writing one third of a new novel; it’s actually an old novel, one he has been writing off and on for the past fifteen years. “It’s about love, violence, sex, and murder,” the 65-year-old Austinite explains, and is set
Hot CDsThanks to her auspicious debut, Baduizm (Universal), 25-year-old Erykah Badu is being billed as the hip-hop Billie Holliday, which may be a bit—how do you say?—premature. But working with jazz and hip-hop all-stars and singing originals that are definitely more intimate than gritty, the silky-voiced South Dallas native does
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.
In an excerpt from Michael Lind’s epic poem The Alamo, a hero of the revolution falls in the fight for freedom.
Hot CDsMiss 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 a
Painful implants and alien abduction experiences may sound like science fiction, but to San Antonio writer Whitley Strieber, they’re frighteningly real.
Why Texas’ best-known homeless writer is back on the streets.
Hot CDsIn 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 tarnished
ANNA MEAGAN: THE AGGIE CINDERELLA STORY, by Cindy King Boettcher, published by Beraam Publishing Company, $16.95. The familiar fairy tale is retold incorporating the myths and traditions of Aggieland. The heroine is a coed studying to be a teacher; her harassers are not step-sisters but messy dorm mates; the Aggie
The latest star pupil of the so-called Houston school.
Hot CDsAlong 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 as
In excerpts from his upcoming memoir, legendary newsman Walter Cronkite remembers his days as a cub reporter in Houston and his introdcution to the realities of racism.
Hot CDsTwo 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 experience—and
Hot CDsSalt? Fat? Excess? You’ll get none of that from the women of Pork. On their second album, Slop (Emperor Jones/Trance Syndicate), the Austin trio gets maximum results from a minimalist approach. Like a modern-day Modern Lovers, the band has a simple, timeless garage-rock sound that thrives on a patchwork
Form follows dysfunction.
An El Paso novelist makes history.
Hot CDs The boys from Bedhead wipe the sleep from their eyes with Beheaded (Trance Syndicate), a volume of 1995 recordings that serves as the band’s second album. The brainy Dallas quintet’s three-guitar setup shimmers and creeps, foreshadowing the hypnotic bursts of woozy but assertive riffs and unassumingly catchy tunesmithing.
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
Hot CDsBraver 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 Austin-via-Lubbock
Hot CDsGrammy 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, his
Hot CDsAustin immigrant Bob Mould made two solo records after the breakup of his first band, Hüsker Dü; now the demise of his latest band, Sugar, has led to a third. Self-produced, entirely self-played, and unassumingly self-titled, the Rykodisc release finds Mould’s somber vocals and crystalline guitar lines meandering from
The big-screen bungling of Rosellen Brown’s Before and After.
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
A new book about Lee Harvey Oswald reveals that conspiracy theorists are still straining to repackage old news into something new.
Texas writers go Hollywood.
The best books and CDs from Texas.
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.
The conventional wisdom is that the independents are good and the national chains are evil—but don’t judge a bookstore by its cover.
The best books and CDs from Texas.
The best books and CDs from Texas.
LYNDON B. JOHNSON AND HIS FAMILY PAPER DOLLS, a cutout book featuring Lyndon and his family in their undies, published by Dover Books as part of its presidential paper doll series, $4.95. TRAIL OF FLAME: THE RED-HOT GUIDE TO SPICY RESTAURANTS ACROSS AMERICA, by Jennifer Trainer Thompson,
Two poets, well versed in the ways of Houston, reflect on the city’s effect on lives and letters.
A cyberpunk writer’s sterling career.