Books

Welcome to Utopia (Notes from a Small Town)

Jun 30, 2010 By Mike Shea

Entertainment Weekly staffer Karen Valby visited Utopia (population 241) in 2006 for an article about American backwaters relatively untouched by popular culture. Intrigued, she returned to research her first book, Welcome to Utopia (Notes from a Small Town), a deftly executed look at the stereotype of a one-horse…

Justin Cronin

Jun 30, 2010 By Mike Shea

The 47-year-old Rice University professor has taken a hard left turn in his writing career, following up his acclaimed literary novel The Summer Guest (2004) with the just-published The Passage, volume one of a near-future sci-fi trilogy populated by violent vampires (not the dreamy romantics we’ve seen of late) and…

Anna Mitchael

Apr 30, 2010 By Mike Shea

Just Don’t Call Me Ma’am’s subtitle—How I Ditched the South for the Big City, Forgot My Manners, and Managed to Survive My Twenties With (Most of) My Dignity Still Intact—might be unwieldy, but it provides a handy précis of this colorful memoir about the not-always-glamorous adventures of a young advertising…

The Marrowbone Marble Company

Apr 30, 2010 By Mike Shea

Loyal Ledford of Huntington, West Virginia, is the unassuming central figure of THE MARROWBONE MARBLE COMPANY, the lyrical second novel from Texas State grad GLENN TAYLOR, whose debut, The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart, was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award. Ledford’s world is shaped by three…

David R. Dow

Feb 1, 2010 By Texas Monthly

The founder of the Texas Innocence Network, who is also the litigation director at the Texas Defender Service and a professor at the University of Houston Law Center, uses his hard-won knowledge of the state legal system to maximum effect in his fifth book, The Autobiography of an Execution.

Joan Schenkar

Dec 1, 2009 By Texas Monthly

The award-winning dramatist (Signs of Life: Six Comedies of Menace) looks to the Texas roots of novelist Patricia Highsmith to explain the traits and compulsions that informed her life. In The Talented Miss Highsmith, she explores the crime writer’s journals and love letters to reveal a complex and erratic…

Neil Sheehan

Sep 30, 2009 By Texas Monthly

The Massachusetts-born journalist has never been afraid to rankle the establishment: In 1971 he obtained the infamous Pentagon Papers from Daniel Ellsberg, which uncovered the government’s secret history of the war in Vietnam, and his 1988 Vietnam exposé, A Bright Shining Lie, earned him a National Book Award and a…

High Society

Aug 31, 2009 By halhlavinka

Colum McCann’s new novel revolves around Philippe Petit’s high-wire walk between the Twin Towers in 1974.

Robb Walsh

Jan 1, 2009 By Texas Monthly

Sex, Death & Oysters: A Half-Shell Lover’s World Tour captures the Houston food writer at his best, offering culinary insight, scientific fact, and offbeat humor as he travels the globe in search of the truth about oysters (including their alleged resemblance to the female anatomy and occasional fatal effects). His…

Jeff  Guinn

Dec 1, 2008 By Mike Shea

At 735 pages, The Christmas Chronicles might inspire a deeply felt ho-ho-ho-hum from the Santa-averse. But don’t shun these three newly compiled “as told to” Yule novels from the Fort Worth author (The Autobiography of Santa Claus, How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas, and The Great Santa Search). With their…

Desperate Housewives

May 31, 2008 By Sarah Bird

In this excerpt from writer-at-large Sarah Bird’s new novel, How Perfect Is That, the realities of life in early twenty-first century Austin become all-too-clear to a defrocked socialite.

The Franchise Babe

May 31, 2008 By Mike Shea

As the father of the golf novel (exhibit A: Dead Solid Perfect, circa 1974), Fort Worth’s Dan Jenkins holds license in perpetuity to exercise the genre’s clichés, which he does with relish in The Franchise Babe. Self-absorbed pro golfers and sizzling golf moms in “jacked-up minis” are just…

Apples and Oranges: My Brother and Me, Lost and Found

May 31, 2008 By Mike Shea

San Antonio–born journalist Marie Brenner borrowed her memoir’s title, Apples and Oranges: My Brother and Me, Lost and Found, from the childhood nickname given to her and her older brother, Carl, with whom she was endlessly at odds. The nickname takes on a more literal aspect when Carl…

Sam Gosling

May 31, 2008 By Mike Shea

A decade of research by this University of Texas at Austin psychology prof has led to new ways of understanding the relationship between individuals and the spaces they inhabit, as he now reveals with Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You. Snoop posits that our possessions open a window…

Bill Bishop

Apr 30, 2008 By Mike Shea

In The Big Sort, the Austin political blogger and Pulitzer finalist for editorial writing addresses America’s tendency to segment itself into tiny, like-minded groups (a phenomenon he calls “clustering”). How did the “big sort” notion come to be, and what does it signify? [Sociologist] Robert Cushing and I…

Bill Bishop

Apr 30, 2008 By Mike Shea

In The Big Sort, the Austin political blogger and Pulitzer finalist addresses America’s tendency to segment itself into tiny, like-minded groups (a phenomenon he calls clustering). How did the “big sort” notion come to be, and what does it signify? [Sociologist] Robert Cushing and I began exploring why…

Holy Moly

Apr 30, 2008 By Mike Shea

Word is that Ben Rehder might drop the curtain on his snarky Blanco County mystery series with Holy Moly, the sixth novel featuring square-jawed Johnson City game warden John Marlin. If so, the Austinite goes out on a high note with this screwball tale about “pastorpreneur” Peter Boothe,…

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Mar 31, 2008 By Mike Shea

The best-selling Houston-based writer sets her new novel, The Palace of Illusions, in the fifth millennium BCE. Based on India’s epic Mahabharat poem, it examines love and war from the perspective of Princess Panchaali. (Read an excerpt.) The Palace of Illusions is a re-imagining of the…

Dog of Love

Mar 31, 2008 By Jeff McCord

Like Joe Ely, Jo Carol Pierce grew up in the dusty vacuum of Lubbock, and though she was part of the town’s famed clique of talent, only in her late forties did she begin to take her writing seriously. She penned and performed Bad Girls Upset by the Truth,…

Willie Nelson: An Epic Life

Mar 31, 2008 By Mike Shea

The first time nine-year-old Booger Red got drunk on beer, he decided, “I had already fucked up more ways than God was going to put up with . . . so I had in mind, the sky’s the limit from here on, I mean I can’t go to hell twice.”…

The Story of Forgetting

Mar 31, 2008 By Mike Shea

Stefan Merrill Block is a talent. Though his debut novel, The Story of Forgetting, sings a bit from the Jonathan Safran Foer hymnal (a precocious teen trying to unravel his family’s tragic history), the Plano native distinguishes himself with inventive plotting and an urbane Texas voice. High Plains…

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Mar 31, 2008 By Mike Shea

The best-selling Houston-based writer sets her new novel, The Palace of Illusions, in the fifth millennium BCE. Based on India’s epic Mahabharat poem, it examines love and war from the perspective of Princess Panchaali. (Read an excerpt.) What concerns did you have in tackling such a beloved…

The Flowers

Mar 1, 2008 By Mike Shea

Meet Sonny Bravo, the sweet but surly almost-sixteen-year-old who shrugs his way through The Flowers, Austinite Dagoberto Gilb’s first novel since 1994’s The Last Known Residence of Micky Acuña. At Los Flores— the East L.A. apartment building where Sonny lives with his mother, Silvia, and her redneck husband,…

Terry Moore

Mar 1, 2008 By Mike Shea

In June 2007 the Houston artist, writer, and publisher wrapped up his Strangers in Paradise comic book series after a fourteen-year run. He writes Runaways and Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane for Marvel Comics, and he is now launching Echo, a new superhero series. Has Echo been percolating for a…

Interview with Terry Moore

Mar 1, 2008 By Mike Shea

In June 2007 the Houston artist, writer, and publisher wrapped up his Strangers in Paradise comic book series after a fourteen-year run. He writes Runaways and Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane for Marvel Comics, and he is now launching Echo, a new superhero series. How did Strangers in Paradise differ…

Mudbound

Mar 1, 2008 By Mike Shea

The Jim Crow realities of a forties Mississippi cotton farm form a somber background for Mudbound, the long-awaited debut by Texas native Hillary Jordan. It’s a bitter tale of two World War II heroes, a bomber pilot and a tank commander, who return from the war to quite…

Names on a Map

Mar 1, 2008 By Mike Shea

In his sixth novel, Names on a Map, Benjamin Alire Saenz writes about America’s hypercharged Vietnam era with the stoic calm that you might expect from a former priest (which he is). The war has crossed the Pacific to visit the Espejo family in their El Paso home:…

Ben Fountain

Feb 1, 2008 By Texas Monthly

An overnight success at the halfway point in his life—but better late than never, especially when the payoff is an apt comparison to Graham Greene. Born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Fountain majored in English at the University of North Carolina and got a law degree from Duke University. He…

Bruce Sterling

Feb 1, 2008 By Mike Shea

The Brownsville native and longtime Austinite has spent most of his adult life contemplating the future: A progenitor of the scruffy cyberpunk fiction movement (he edited the short-story anthology Mirrorshades and co-authored The Difference Engine with William Gibson), he has penned ten sci-fi novels and several works of nonfiction, including…

How Can I Talk If My Lips Don’t Move?

Jan 1, 2008 By Mike Shea

Austinite Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay became a poster boy for the learning potential of autistic children with his first book, The Mind Tree, a collection of stories and poems he wrote between the ages of eight and eleven. In How Can I Talk If My Lips Don’t Move: inside…

The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy

Jan 1, 2008 By Mike Shea

We’ll take Robert Leleux at his word when he declares in The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy that, growing up in tiny Petunia, he didn’t know he was gay until he was seventeen and unexpectedly googly-eyed over his dance instructor at a community theater. Literary license or not,…

Kathy L. Patrick

Jan 1, 2008 By Mike Shea

This boisterous bookseller runs a Jefferson hair salon/bookstore, Beauty and the Book, that is a bastion of independent literary thinking—and egalitarian fun. She shares her Texas joie de vivre in The Pulpwood Queens’ Tiara-Wearing, Book-Sharing Guide to Life. What exactly is a Pulpwood Queen? The Pulpwood Queens are…

Grazing Across Texas: Rod, Gun & Ranch Cooking

Oct 31, 2007 By Kyle Adams

Tosh Brown will be the first to admit that he has no business writing a cookbook. “We were very careful to put ‘photography and commentary by Tosh Brown,’” he said with a smile. “These are not my recipes. There are a lot of people out there that know me that…

Books That Cook

Sep 30, 2007 By Texas Monthly

No misnomer seems more indelible to Texas than the conflation of “Mexican” food and “Tex-Mex.” And, in her recently published cookbook Mexican Light: Healthy Cuisine for Today’s Cook/Cocina Mexicana Ligera: Para el Cocinero Actual, Kris Randolph, a native of Houston who now lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and…

Books That Cook

Aug 31, 2007 By Ashleigh Whaley

Life is too short to enjoy cocktail hour with a bag of Doritos. In Kate Heyhoe’s new book Great Bar Food at Home, we learn that you can have a sophisticated bar atmosphere in the comfort of your own pad. You just have to plan. And Heyhoe is ready to…