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Local Literati

An April First Shot of Egerton

We've never much cared for April Fools Day – it's like a 24-hour cringe – but we might have to reverse our opinion based on the Texas Book Festival's upcoming April Fools Day Happy Hour, which ingeniously combines free tequila + the prankish Owen Egerton. Read More | Comment »

3:28PM Mon. Mar. 29, 2010, Kimberley Jones

Time for Staple!ing

With some wet weather heading this way, the only thing better to do than sit home and read comics is to head to the Staple! indie media expo to meet some big name indie comics creators. Read More | Comment »

2:30PM Fri. Mar. 5, 2010, Richard Whittaker

A Perfect Day for Talking About Bananafish

It should come as no surprise that included in the Harry Ransom Center's holdings is some of J.D. Salinger's unpublished correspondence. (Seriously, is there anybody the HRC doesn't have a file on?) The hoi polloi will get to hear excerpts from these letters and more at an upcoming tribute presented by the HRC and American Short Fiction. Read More | Comment »

4:27PM Tue. Feb. 16, 2010, Kimberley Jones

Go Greek

The classics keep on ticking, and tickling the imagination of modern authors – in these first two months of 2010 alone, we’ve seen David Malouf’s Illiad-reimagining Ransom and Zachary Mason’s The Lost Books of the Odyssey. Now Austin author Katharine Beutner has got into the act, too, with Alcestis. Read More | Comment »

8:53AM Sun. Feb. 7, 2010, Kimberley Jones

MCW Alum Brian Hart Reads at BookPeople

Brian Hart is no stranger to accolades – in 2006, he become the first-ever recipient of the University of Texas’ Keene Prize for Literature, the largest student literary prize in existence. Now his debut novel is netting him some awfully nice notices. As in, “quietly exceptional,” quoth The New Yorker. Read More | Comment »

2:05PM Wed. Jan. 20, 2010, Kimberley Jones

At Least Five Things You Should Know About, I Mean, If You Were Counting

It might take a sec to wrap your brain around the concept behind the regular series Five Things: We're gonna take a cue from the title and call it a multimedia thingy involving awesomely talented Austin folk, but cohost Stacy Muszynski's description of a "literati/musical/performative event" is a lot more elegant.

The theme of this month's event is Photographs. Five authors – Amanda Eyre Ward, Jennifer Pashley, Aly Tadros, Perry Tyson Midkiff II (who, fyi, won second place in our last Austin Chronicle Short Story Contest for his terrific story "May the Passenger Pigeon Sing Thee to Thy Rest"), and Sigers Steele – will tell stories based on the photographs of five photographers – Mary Sledd, Suzi Q, Sarah Gonzalez, David Jewell, and David Hill – followed by music from the likes of Jamie Panzer, Legs Against Arms, and Zapata Sparrow. Hosting the evening will be series masterminds Muszynski and Amelia Gray (whose new brand-spanking-new book of flash-fiction AM/PM is on the top of our to-read pile).

Five Things: Photographs takes place this Friday, June 5 at the (very happily reopened) United States Art Authority next to Spiderhouse Cafe (510 West 29th). Doors open at 7pm (come early for a special acoustic set by Aly Tadros). Admission is $1. For more info, go to fivethingsaustin.com.

Full press release after the jump. Read More | Comment »

4:30PM Wed. Jun. 3, 2009, Kimberley Jones

All the Ladies in the House

UT announced today the winners of the 2010 Dobie Paisano Writing Fellowships – prestigious writing awards that involves both an extended stay at the 254 acre Paisano ranch and some cold hard cash. Texas Monthly columnist and much-loved comic novelist Sarah Bird (How Perfect Is That) won the Johnston Fellowship, for writers more established in their career; runners-up include two Michener graduates, poet Bruce Snider (The Year We Studied Women) and Philipp Meyer (whose debut novel American Rust earned great reviews this spring). The Jesse Jones Fellowship, earmarked for up-and-comers, went to activist and author Diane Wilson, who most recently published the memoir Holy Roller: Growing Up in the Church of Knock Down, Drag Out; or, How I Quit Loving a Blue-Eyed Jesus; fiction writers Ana Marcela Fuentes and Stacey Swann (also the American Short Fiction editor) were runners-up for the prize. For more info about the Dobie Paisano fellowship, go here. Full press release after the jump. [Editor's Note: The original post mistakenly reported that Ana Marcela Fuentes is editor of American Short Fiction; Stacey Swann is in fact the editor of American Short Fiction.] Read More | Comment »

2:17PM Fri. May. 15, 2009, Kimberley Jones

Straight From the Horse's Mouth

We'll have a proper tribute to Bud Shrake in our Thursday print issue, but in the meantime, we point you to our archives – most particularly to this interview conducted in 1985 by Chronicle Editor Louis Black. In it, a funny and forthcoming Bud Shrake talked about his career in the movies, from taking Hollywood actor Cliff Robertson to court in Travis County ("He showed up looking like somebody who had gotten dressed at the Salvation Army discard barrel") to Dennis Hopper's run-in with revolutionaries on the Mexico set of Kid Blue. Read More | Comment »

3:34PM Mon. May. 11, 2009, Kimberley Jones

Dagoberto Gilb Hospitalized

Rumors were swirling last week about the health of Austin-based writer Dagoberto Gilb. A family representative put the rumors to rest with this statement released today: "Dagoberto Gilb had a minor stroke on April 29. He is grateful for everybody’s concern and well wishes, and is now privately recuperating in rehab. He will be released within a few weeks and is looking forward to resuming writing and working." The award-winning writer’s most recent novel is The Flowers (2008). Prior to that he edited Hecho en Tejas: An Anthology of Texas Mexican Literature (2006). Gilb is a tenured professor in the Creative Writing Program at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. Read More | Comment »

11:47AM Mon. May. 11, 2009, Belinda Acosta

Texas legend Edwin "Bud" Shrake loses battle with cancer

Texas writer Edwin "Bud" Shrake passed away this morning at an Austin-area hospital, reports The Dallas Morning News. He was 77. Shrake started out as a sports writer in his native Fort Worth and eventually become a staff writer at Sports Illustrated. His 1992 golf bible, Harvey Penick's Little Red Book, was a huge bestseller, and his 1972 novel, Strange Peaches, is considered to be a modern classic. He was also a Texas Monthly contributor, screenwriter of Willie Nelson-starrer Songwriter, the longtime companion of the late Gov. Ann Richards, a card-carrying Mad Dog, and a much beloved fixture around these parts. The Chronicle last spoke with Shrake last April on the occasion of publication of his anthology, Land of the Permanent Wave: An Edwin "Bud" Shrake Reader (UT Press). Read More | Comment »

11:35AM Fri. May. 8, 2009, Kimberley Jones

Merwin, Brands Get Pulitzer Nods

We spent last week on a lovely stay-cay, basically plugging our fingers in our ears for a full 7 days, which means we missed the big news that poet W.S. Merwin won the Pulitzer Prize for his book The Shadow of Sirius (Copper Canyon Press). The announcement came last Monday, just a couple of days after Merwin wowed audiences first at a reading presented by UT's Michener Center for Writers, then at the annual Poetry at Round Top Festival in Round Top, Texas. Round Top director Jack Brannon (who was recently featured in our AIPF preview) passed along word, as well as a couple shots of the venerable poet. Congrats also go to local author H.W. Brands, whose terrific book Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Doubleday) was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer for Biography or Autobiography (he was previously nominated for Ben Franklin bio The First American). Brands is shockingly prolific, so we've no doubt he'll get another crack at the gold. Read More | Comment »

3:19PM Mon. Apr. 27, 2009, Kimberley Jones

Winning Outside the Box

Joe O'Connell, the Chronicle's film-industry columnist, is a man so often wrapped in old-school celluloid or awash in hi-def pixels by way of making a living, you'd think he had fuck-all time for anything else. He wouldn't be the man to win an award for crafting an excellent prose novel, for instance. Except that he would. He's the winner of the 2009 North Texas Book Festival Book Award in adult fiction, awarded on April 17, up there in Denton. His novel-in-stories, Evacuation Plan, published by Austin-based Dalton Publishing, reveals a segmented narrative of the terminally ill, the patients’ families, and those who care for the dying. His book's an excellent, thought-provoking diversion from our own inevitable plummet toward the grave, and we highly recommend it to you, the living. Read More | Comment »

3:42PM Tue. Apr. 21, 2009, Wayne Alan Brenner

Legends of Texas Letters Reflect on 'The Gay Place'

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the publication of Billy Lee Brammer's The Gay Place, the Chronicle's own Michael Ventura wrote this: "It is still the finest novel written by a Texan, and with Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men it gracefully holds its place as one of the two great political novels in American literature." And on the occasion of what would have been the 80th birthday of Brammer, who died in 1978, ACC's annual Carnival ah! program will feature a panel called Austin in the '50s: The Political and Literary Landscapes of Billy Lee Brammer. The panel kicks off with the premiere screening of "The Flea Circus," a short film based on an excerpt from The Gay Place, directed and produced by his daughters Shelby and Sidney Brammer. Next up is a panel discussion, and if you know the first thing about Texas letters, you know the lineup is an impressive one: Longtime Texas Monthly columnist (and one of Brammer's Mad Dog pals) Gary Cartwright; Brammer's first wife, Nadine Eckhardt, whose memoir Duchess of Palms was just published by UT Press; legendary curmudgeon Don Graham, who's perhaps the leading authority on Texas literature; Kaye Northcott, former editor of The Texas Observer; Texas Monthly senior editor Jan Reid (The Bullet Meant for Me); and former state legislator A.R. "Babe" Schwartz, who helped lead the Killer Bees in its Senate quorum-busting move in 1979. The Chron's Film News columnist Joe O'Connell will moderate. The event is free and open to the public. It takes place this Friday, April 3, at 5pm on the Mainstage Theatre, 2nd floor of the Rio Grande Campus of Austin Community College (1212 Rio Grande). Refreshments and birthday cake in the lobby post-panel. Read More | Comment »

11:39AM Tue. Mar. 31, 2009, Kimberley Jones

And Then He Wrote

Texas music chronicler Joe Nick Patoski will receive the 2009 TCU Texas Book Award for his biography Willie Nelson: An Epic Life. He'll be fêted at a March 19 dinner on the TCU campus, which will be open to the public (provided you pony up $30 for the pleasure of attending). Reservations can be made by calling Barbara Standlee (817/257-6109). Dan Oko chronicled Patoski in these pages back in April. You can also read an excerpt from his biography here. Read More | Comment »

11:38AM Thu. Feb. 26, 2009, Kimberley Jones

Scott Blackwood Adapts to Chicago

Scott Blackwood gained acclaim for his story collection In the Shadow of Our House, and the Southwest Texas State MFA grad and Dobie Paisano fellow follows it all with the Austin-set novel We Agreed to Meet Just Here. But the bad news is Blackwood isn't set here anymore. He's now the director of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Roosevelt University in Chicago, where he fittingly read from the Association of Writers and Writing Programs award winning-book this past weekend. He brags about almost making it through his first Chicago winter (the snow was falling and the wind swirling as I flew out Friday night). But he also admits to a longing to return to Austin. His novel is set in the Deep Eddy neighborhood; he'll have an Austin book party on March 13 at Eiler Park (next to Deep Eddy Pool). You can check out the first chapter here. Read More | Comment »

2:47PM Mon. Feb. 16, 2009, Joe O'Connell

Intellectual Property Half Off

Bad news for bibliophiles around UT: Book store Follett's Intellectual Property Austin on Guadalupe has announced that it will be closing its doors on March 14. Every armchair store manager will have their theory as to why it failed (the argument seems to be splitting between high rents near UT, high prices, too much competition from other media and online outlets, and the general decline of Western Civilization.) It's hard to take even the smallest solace out of the fact that the store is having a 50% off closing sale, because this closure is a double-whammy in two deeply worrying trends. Firstly, the well-recorded series of store and restaurant closures along the Drag (an alarming number of stores are known as "The one where that other shop was"). IP suffered from that, as even freshman students knew the building as "The Old Tower Records." Equally worrying is that this is the third large bookstore to close in Austin in the last year. B Dalton Bookseller in Highland Mall was one of many anchor stores to close in the north Austin shopping complex, while the Bookstop on North Lamar closed at the end of 2008. Read More | 1 Comment »

8:35PM Tue. Feb. 3, 2009, Richard Whittaker

Librarians Sing, Shimmy, Ride Segways

The Austin Public Library's multi-talented staff has made a retro-y, girl-group music video explaining exactly what APL can do for you. Check it out here. Read More | Comment »

4:46PM Fri. Jan. 23, 2009, Kimberley Jones

Ana Sisnett Service & Related Information

Celebrating Ana
Saturday, January 24 at 1pm.

Trinity United Methodist Church
600 E. 50th Street Read More | Comment »

2:49AM Sun. Jan. 18, 2009, Belinda Acosta

Ana Sisnett, 1952-2009

A small, sweet gathering was held at La Peña to honor Ana Sisnett, the community activist, writer, poet, friend, and leader who passed away Jan. 13 after a three-year battle with ovarian cancer. An altar bearing photos, flowers, copies of Ana's book, Grannie Jus Come! and sweets had been assembled the night before, and those who attended the event gathered before it to share their memories, poetry, and laughter, and yes, tears. "Oh no," Sisnett's daughter Meredith Sisnett told the assembled. "My mother told us, 'Don't give me one of those sad, sad, everybody crying, funerals!'" Everyone recognized the spirit behind those words, and it was the perfect cue to invite musicians Olivia Prendes and Odaymara Cuesta to perform. The two women, new to Austin, who happened to be from Sisnett's native Panama, were found at a chance meeting earlier in the day. Their spirited, heartfelt singing, accompanied only by conga and rhythm sticks, was the perfect way to send the assembled out into the frigid night, a little warmer than when they arrived. Below are a few remembrances of Ana. Others are invited to share their memories by clicking on the link below. The thread will remain on the Austin Chronicle site indefinitely. Read More | 1 Comment »

2:03AM Sun. Jan. 18, 2009, Belinda Acosta

How Do You Say 'Au Revoir' to a Writer Like James Crumley?

The Frenchman looked a little uneasy. He had, he explained, come to Missoula for two reasons. The first, to explore the highways of the American West at Mach speeds (back in the ‘90s, Montana had no designated speed limit); the second, he said, was to meet the crime novelist James Crumley. We had a laugh as Frenchy related how he had sped into Wyoming without seeing the signs – out of Montana and into the arms of the waiting highway patrol. Then my pal Charley marched him down the block to meet Crumley. James Crumley, who knew a thing or two about living hard and driving fast, died on Wednesday, Sept. 17. He was 68. He was born in Three Rivers, south Texas, but lived for nearly four decades in Missoula, Montana. A one-time member of the University of Montana writing faculty, he was a familiar sight in the local bars, and offered kind words of advice to this and nearly every other writer who sought him out. Crumley was most famous for his crime novels, which received mixed critical reviews. Regardless, his books were celebrated by legions of fans for their visceral violence (always moral, rarely gratuitous) and Jim’s fine way with words. No remembrance would be complete without quoting the opening from his 1984 classic, The Last Good Kiss. That indelible first line: "When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon." Read More | 1 Comment »

2:02PM Wed. Oct. 1, 2008, Dan Oko

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