The Gruene cabinetmaker who went to Nashville and became a country star is back in Texas these days. He’s been slowed a bit by multiple sclerosis, but he’s still up for something new—an organ-drenched sound reminiscent of the late, lamented country-funk genre (think Tony Joe White and “Shotgun Willie”) that should have been bigger forty years ago. BOOKS Ghost Horse, Thomas Mcneely (Gival Press, October 6) “Last day of fifth grade, Houston, Texas, 1975: the time before Star Wars.” So opens this former Dobie Paisano fellow’s haunting debut novel, which never allows its pop culture references or beautifully rendered sentences to soften the violence that life—his parents’ disintegrating marriage, his classmates’ cruelty, his grandmother’s vindictiveness—visits upon its sensitive protagonist. Wildfire, Mary Pauline Lowry (Skyhorse, October 7)
Lowry, a fourth-generation Austinite, hails from a storied Texas family (Google, if you’re curious, L. Theo Bellmont, Jack Gray, and Ruth Millett), but her accomplishments, as the rare female wildland firefighter inducted into the USDA’s Pike Interagency Hotshot Crew and as an author who has turned her experiences into a compelling debut novel, are her own. SPORTS San Antonio Spurs, Season Opener (October 28) Coming off its fifth NBA championship—and sixth conference title, and eleventh division title—in sixteen years, the greatest basketball team in the world heads into the 2014–2015 season worried about Tim Duncan’s and Manu Ginóbili’s aging bodies. But maybe not that worried. After all, what’s the worst thing that could happen? They beat the Heat in six games instead of five?