Books

Reviews, profiles, and interviews that capture the diverse voices adding to Texas’s rich literary tradition
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Guides|
November 1, 1997

CD and Book Reviews

Hot CDsThe 33 selections on My Time: A Boz Scaggs Anthology (1969— 1997) (Columbia/Legacy) are as sleek and as shiny as a Highland Park Mercedes. Despite the ex-Dallasite’s irresistible sense of flow-as-melody, several tracks on the two-CD set are also vapid enough to reconfirm that all that glitters is not

Books|
November 1, 1997

Mary, Queen of Plots

For fans of Mary Willis Walker, May will be the merriest of months, for that’s when the Austinite’s fourth novel will hit stores. In All the Dead Lie Down (Doubleday, $22.95), her plucky protagonist, Lone Star Monthly reporter Molly Cates, springs into action to find her father’s killer and foil

Guides|
September 30, 1997

CD and Book Reviews

Hot CDsFew 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 his

Books|
September 30, 1997

Dan Rather

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

Books|
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.

Guides|
August 31, 1997

CD and Book Reviews

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

Books|
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.

Texas History|
July 31, 1997

Alamo Tome

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

Guides|
July 31, 1997

CD and Book Reviews

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

Books|
July 31, 1997

J. C. Herz

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;

Guides|
June 30, 1997

CD and Book Reviews

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

Guides|
May 31, 1997

CD and Book Reviews

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

Books|
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.

Guides|
April 30, 1997

CD and Book Reviews

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

Books|
April 1, 1997

Teen Idol

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

Guides|
April 1, 1997

CD and Book Reviews

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

Books|
April 1, 1997

Let Them Read Shrake

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

Guides|
March 1, 1997

CD and Book Reviews

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

Books|
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.

Guides|
February 1, 1997

CD and Book Reviews

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

Books|
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.

Guides|
January 1, 1997

CD and Book Reviews

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

Bum Steers|
January 1, 1997

Write Lite

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

Guides|
December 1, 1996

CD and Book Reviews

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

Books|
December 1, 1996

And That’s the Way It Was

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.

Guides|
November 1, 1996

CD and Book Reviews

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

Guides|
September 30, 1996

CD and Book Reviews

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

Guides|
July 31, 1996

CD and Book Reviews

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.

Books|
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

Guides|
June 30, 1996

CD and Book Reviews

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

Guides|
May 31, 1996

CD and Book Reviews

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

Guides|
April 30, 1996

CD and Book Reviews

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

Books|
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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