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Nonfiction and Memoir
Justin St. Germain, Stephen Harrigan, and more delight with these true tomes
Books Story  October 25, 2013
"...Betsy Prioleau, author of Seductress and The Circle of Eros and former cultural history professor at NYU, conducted a thorough, if somewhat myopic, examination of how the greatest male lovers in history "en-swoon women" and what, ultimately, women want from these peacocking "ladykillers." The resulting nonfiction work is broken into two parts: an analysis of "Anatomy of the Great Seducers" – charisma and character – and a five-chapter explanation of "The Seducer's Way," which includes "lassoing love" relating to both the mind and the senses...."

Elsewhere, U.S.A.: How We Got From the Company Man, Family Dinners, and the Affluent Society to the Home Office, BlackBerry Moms, and Economic Anxiety
The scary tale of Elsewhere Man, the American professional with no authentic, core self
Books Review  February 6, 2009, by Tim Warden
"...The main character in this nonfiction tale of how we live now is one Mr. 2009..."

The Well-Dressed Ape: A Natural History of Myself
A delightful anthropological study-cum-memoir about what unites and divides humans from the animal kingdom
Books Review  February 6, 2009, by Kimberley Jones


New in Nonfiction
Two new nonfiction books work their mouths around the English language
Books Review  November 21, 2008, by Tim Warden


New in Nonfiction: Waiter Rant: Thanks For The Tip – Confessions of a Cynical Waiter
A popular blog turns into book form, highlighting both the advantages and disadvantages of mixing new and old media
Books Review  August 22, 2008, by John Davidson


Freakonomics
The runaway nonfiction book that improbably spent two years on The New York Times bestseller list is now, just as improbably, a movie.
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Film Review  October 1, 2010, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...Directed by: Seth Gordon, Morgan Spurlock, Alex Gibney, Eugene Jarecki, Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing. Freakonomics, the runaway nonfiction book that improbably spent two years on The New York Times bestseller list, is now, just as improbably, a movie..."

Denial
Holocaust courtroom drama parallels contemporary issues
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Film Review  October 14, 2016, by Marc Savlov
"...Based on a nonfiction book by Deborah Lipstadt (here played with tight-lipped outrage by a well-cast Weisz), Denial recounts the famous court case in which the writer and Holocaust historian was sued for libel by one David Irving (Spall), a British far right-leaning “historian” and Holocaust denier. Because the libel suit was filed in England, the burden of proof falls to the accused (i.e., the flabbergasted Lipstadt) and not to the prosecution, as it would in the United States...."

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
Michael Bay lends his firepower to this war that's not really a war
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Film Review  January 15, 2016, by Marc Savlov
"...Adapted from Mitchell Zuckoff’s nonfiction book, 13 Hours is less about the catastrophic events of American foreign and military policy than it is about the brothers in arms – ex-military hired contractors … mercenaries really – who did their best to save U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens when Libyan militants overran the American diplomatic compound on September 11, 2012..."

The Big Short
The financial meltdown of 2008 is treated with terrific comic spin
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Film Review  December 25, 2015, by Kimberley Jones
"...For starters, if you’re going to take a deep dive into the credit fiasco, it’s a wise choice indeed to cast movie stars like Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt, who ably harness their considerable charisma to explain collateralized debt obligation to the popcorn-munching masses. (A host of less famous but top-notch character actors deepen the bench.) Adapting with Charles Randolph the nonfiction bestseller by Michael Lewis, McKay is all sleight of hand, using a zippy pace and regular punchlines to make more palatable the befuddling specifics of the banking crisis..."

First Authors Announced for Texas Book Festival
Marquee names run the gamut from Amis to Ziggy
DAILY Books  July 25, 2014, by Robert Faires
"...On Wednesday, the Texas Book Festival announced the first slate of marquee authors for the 2014 edition, and as is usual with this Lone Star literary extravaganza, the eight guests cover the spectrum of the book world: fiction to nonfiction, local to international, new authors to old favorites – all that in just eight individuals...."

The Big Year
Jack Black, Steve Martin, and Owen Wilson co-star in this comedy about competitive birdwatchers.
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Film Review  October 21, 2011, by Kimberley Jones
"...Based loosely on Mark Obmascik's 2004 nonfiction book of the same name, The Big Year chronicles three men's attempts at the so-called Big Year, an informal but long-running contest to clock the most birds sighted in North America over the course of 365 days. Wilson plays Kenny Bostick, an obsessive birder and the current record holder..."

The Way
Emilio Estevez directs this film about a spiritual pilgrimage, which stars his father Martin Sheen.
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Film Review  October 14, 2011, by Kimberley Jones
"...Adapted from Jack Hitt's nonfiction book Off the Road: A Modern-Day Walk Down the Pilgrim’s Route Into Spain, The Way stars Martin Sheen, who has grizzled rather majestically into a tough old goat – fittingly, it turns out, as he spends most of the film on foot, on a pilgrimage known as the El Camino de Santiago...."

Killer Elite
Action-film icon Jason Statham is stuck in an overlong, perfunctory thriller.
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Film Review  September 30, 2011, by Kimberley Jones
"...Frequent action hero Jason Statham – who is just bald enough to pass for an "everyman," at least in Hollywood-speak – plays a retired contract killer named Danny who is pulled back into the game when his former partner (a rumply De Niro) is kidnapped. The plot, based on a nonfiction book by Ranulph Fiennes, teases some political intrigue when Danny is forced into a cat-and-mouse game that begins in the Arab state of Oman and leads to an ex-British special-forces operative (played by Owen with a dirty little mustache)..."

Building Hope
Activist Turk Pipkin's documentary looks at the process of building of a secondary school in Mahiga, Kenya.
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Film Review  June 3, 2011, by Kimberley Jones
"...As in his earlier pictures, the avuncular Pipkin puts himself front and center, but – perhaps because of his intimate involvement with the Mahiga Hope High School construction – Pipkin feels less like a documentarian here and more like a spokesman, especially when he pauses to name-check a second time the project's co-sponsors. Made in association with local outfit Flow Nonfiction, whose mission is to produce "branded documentary content for socially conscious and purpose-driven companies," Building Hope, in its earnest desire to document the good work of a lot of people (on two continents, no less), shies away from mining the inherent drama in the story, under-using, for instance, the sparkiest character here, the expletive-muttering on-site architect who lost 35 pounds over the course of a year..."

"Hubble 3D"
This breathtaking IMAX documentary follows NASA's May 2009 mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope.
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Film Review  March 19, 2010, by Marc Savlov
"...It's impossible not to break out in goosebumps as the telescope's newest tweaks: The Wide Field Camera with infrared imaging capabilities truly goes where no one has gone before. Rocketing through the cosmos to view with pinpoint accuracy Orion's Belt and the swirling enormity of the thousands of galaxies beyond, this is the rare film that is at once a stunning technical and human achievement and a terrifically entertaining slice of science nonfiction..."

Cowboy del Amor
Ivan Thompson, the "Cowboy Cupid" who brokers marriages between American men and Mexican women, is a truly fascinating documentary character that is expertly revealed through rock-solid storytelling.
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Film Review  March 24, 2006, by Marrit Ingman
"..."Las gringas want lots of things," he explains, and American women are "too hard to please." So we follow Thompson and a client, a truck driver who for $3,000 wants "almost a love-at-first-sight kind of feeling," to Torreón, where they place want ads (no more than one child, no more than 130 pounds, and "no vices") and wait for the brides to turn up. I probably don't have to tell you Thompson is a real son of a bitch, but he's a truly fascinating nonfiction character, and Ohayon's storytelling is rock-solid..."

Naked in Ashes
This documentary follows a group of spiritual voyagers through a series of pilgrimages and trips to Indian ashrams and holy festivals in order to create a portrait of the yogi life.
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Film Review  November 25, 2005, by Marrit Ingman
"...Director Fouce, in her debut, follows a loosely organized group of such spiritual voyagers through a series of holy festivals and pilgrimages and trips to Indian ashrams; the result is a largely factual portrait of the yogi life, sufficiently detailed to attract a general audience but not as inquisitive and lyrical an approach as the subject matter probably deserves. Westerners who are already curious about spiritual renunciation and the performance of austerities – more on those in a minute – should probably check the film out, and it’s a slam dunk for the classroom setting, but Fouce doesn’t delve deeply enough into the heavyweight matters to make the film a true documentary, nor is there enough of a narrative in her nonfiction to suggest a strong creative presence behind the camera..."

Assisted Living
Greenebaum's superstylized first feature attempts to mesh fiction with nonfiction while remaining a narrative, and it attempts to do it almost entirely in the confines of a nursing home, entirely in one day.
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Film Review  April 8, 2005, by Shawn Badgley
"...This, of course, is understandable. Greenebaum's superstylized first feature attempts to mesh the fiction with the nonfiction while remaining a narrative, and it attempts to do it almost entirely in the confines of a nursing home, entirely in one day..."

Seabiscuit
Adapted from the bestselling nonfiction work by Laura Hillenbrand, Seabiscuit dramatizes the story of three men – owner Charles Howard (Bridges), jockey Red Pollard (Maguire), and trainer Tom Smith (Cooper)...
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Film Review  July 25, 2003, by Kimberley Jones
"...Macy. Adapted from the bestselling nonfiction work by Laura Hillenbrand, Seabiscuit dramatizes the story of three men – owner Charles Howard (Bridges), jockey Red Pollard (Maguire), and trainer Tom Smith (Cooper) – and the abandoned, battered horse they rallied around and made a champion..."

Thirteen Days
As a critic who spent the better part of this past year grousing about the dearth of “intelligent” storylines in 2000, it's heartening to see a film like Roger Donaldson's...
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Film Review  January 12, 2001, by Marc Savlov
"...Zelikow (itself adapted from Ernest R. May's nonfiction book, which provides the script with voluminous, straight-from-the-transcript details), continually ratchets up the sweaty-palm level time and again..."

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Eastwood's film, adapted from John Berendt's phenomenally bestselling “nonfiction novel,” is as entertaining and outrageous a confection as its source material, half Southern gothic and half Our Town on goofdust....
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Film Review  November 21, 1997, by Marc Savlov
"...Hall, Paul Hipp and Jude Law. Eastwood's film, adapted from John Berendt's phenomenally bestselling “nonfiction novel,” is as entertaining and outrageous a confection as its source material, half Southern gothic and half Our Town on goofdust..."

Martha & Ethel
With the arrival of last year's celebrated documentary Hoop Dreams the cinematic climate seems ripe for more nonfiction films. Enter Martha and Ethel, a film not only about two nannies...
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Film Review  April 28, 1995, by Alison Macor
"...Starring: Martha Kniefel, Ethel Edwards, Jylle Johnstone and Barbara Ettinger. With the arrival of last year's celebrated documentary Hoop Dreams the cinematic climate seems ripe for more nonfiction films..."

Warrior Marks
Ouch. When I was in school, much time was spent in seminars discussing topics like castration anxiety and its contributions to the growth of civilization. It was a literary metaphor,...
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Film Review  October 14, 1994, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...Executive-produced and presented by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker and directed by Pratibha Parmar (A Place of Rage, Khush), the movie is a passionate exploration of these contemporary, worldwide customs. Inspired to inform people abut the practice of female genital mutilation after studying the subject while writing her recent novel Possessing the Secret of Joy, Walker spearheaded this movie and also authored another nonfiction book, Warrior Marks, to accompany it..."

Pictures From a Revolution
Susan Meiselas risked her life photographing the Nicaraguan revolution of 1979. Her images were vivid, arresting; one picture of a young Sandinista hurling a Molotov cocktail was even adopted as...
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Film Review  July 24, 1992, by Chris Walters
"...Out of that experience, they made this movie, a heartbreaking essay on heroism repaid by years of bitter disappointment. Unblemished by special pleading, Pictures resonates with the desire for a better life that was frustrated by Nicaragua's strangled economy, courtesy of Ronald Reagan; of all nonfiction films about Nicaragua, it is the least didactic, the most open to history as it is known by those who made it..."

Top Books to Make Our Lone Star Shine
Joe O'Connell's top reads of 2016 reveal new depths of humanitity in their Texas characters
Arts Story  December 29, 2016, by Joe O'Connell
"...Karl Jacoby's The Strange Career of William Ellis (Norton) changed the way I think about race and was my top nonfiction read. Jacoby researched a flashy entrepreneur who dreamed of bringing freed U.S..."

Well-Behaved? Let's Assume Not.
This fall's nonfiction releases spotlight women who made history
Arts Story  November 26, 2014, by Robert Faires
"...It was meant for the world to hear and absorb and repeat. And its resonance can be felt again in several new nonfiction titles that recount the stories of women who changed the world..."

July Is Crime Month
As summer heats up, the 'Chronicle' runs afoul of the law, in fiction and nonfiction
Arts Story  July 3, 2014, by Robert Faires
"...Misdeeds know no season, but when a curiously large number of new mystery and true crime books slated for summer release was dumped off at the Chronicle offices like so many dead bodies, it seemed an optimum time to indulge our love for the unlawful. Thus, we give you July Is Crime Month, four weeks' worth of Chronicle writers and editors going down those "mean streets" and sharing what they've found there: reviews of recent crime fiction and nonfiction, interviews with authors and publishers in the field, plugs for upcoming crime-related readings and screenings, and appreciations of classic crime sagas – and their creators – in print and onscreen..."

Writers' League of Texas Announces Nominees
2008 Violet Crown Book Awards
DAILY Books  September 11, 2008, by Kimberley Jones
"...The Writers' League of Texas announced today the shortlist nominees for its annual Violet Crown Book Awards – and not the Violent Crown, as I keep repeatedly typing. (Apparently somebody's feeling lightly murderous today.) The Violet Crown celebrates the best in adult fiction and nonfiction, while the Teddy Awards honor children's literature..."

Postscripts
Upcoming literary events in Austin.
Books Column  January 26, 2001, by Clay Smith
"...12th ) between 10am and 6pm Monday through Saturday. Especially needed are dictionaries (the most requested items), GED training books, books teaching English as a second language, books in Spanish, and trade/job skills manuals, though books of most any topic, fiction or nonfiction, can be put to use..."

Brand Upon the Brain
Art and advertising collide in the burgeoning genre of branded documentary
Screens Story  July 29, 2011, by Josh Rosenblatt
"...Recognizing an opportunity when they saw one, executives at Proctor & Gamble hired Flow Nonfiction, an Austin-based creative agency/production company, to make a film about the company's efforts in Haiti to draw attention to the program and, by extension, the Tide brand. Not a commercial, really, and not some scripted burst of self-congratulation, but a real documentary about the program and the people affected by it..."

Postscripts
How to learn more about publishing, for free; and upcoming literary events in Austin.
Books Column  February 16, 2001, by Clay Smith
"...Each Fellow receives $18,000, and both of them even get a parking permit! Deadline for applications is March 30; see www.utexas.edu/utpress/html/fellow.html for applications or call 471-7233. Creative Nonfiction Conference..."

The New New Journalism: Conversations on Craft With America's Best Non-Fiction Writers
When Tom Wolfe's introduction to The New Journalism' appeared in the 1970s, did he anticipate the semantic fallout his term would create?
Books Review  March 11, 2005, by Belinda Acosta
"...The New New Journalism: Conversations with America's Best Nonfiction Writers on Their Craft..."

Postscripts
Neal Barrett Jr. and Bill Crawford both win the Busiest Texas Writer of 2000 Award.
Books Column  January 12, 2001, by Clay Smith
"...Creative Nonfiction Conference..."

Signal to Noise
An Interview With Netchick Carla Sinclair
Screens Story  April 10, 1998, by Jon Lebkowsky
"...CS: Yes, I'd always wanted to write a novel, but since I'd never done it before (and never took creative writing classes in school) I was really afraid to try. But I always like changing directions, and as I'd already written magazine articles and nonfiction books, and co-edited my own zine, it was time I try something new - creating a piece of fiction..."

Local Author Tim O'Brien Wins Lifetime Achievement Award
'The Things They Carried' author on life, fiction, and truth
DAILY Books  November 14, 2013, by R.U. Steinberg and Paul Steinberg
"...… I use my own name and I dedicated the book to characters in the book to give it the form of a war memoir. I followed the conventions of a memoir hoping I could seduce the reader into thinking, "Maybe I’m reading nonfiction." And then to periodically interrupt that thought by reminding the reader that this is fiction..."

2003 Texas Book Festival Preview
Books Story  November 7, 2003
"...11:45am-12:30pm Paramount TheatreAmy Tan 11:45am-12:30pm House Chamber NonfictionScott Turow..."

Fast, Cheap & Out of Control
Interview With Filmmaker Errol Morris
Screens Story  November 14, 1997, by Jason Silverman
"...One of the most striking moments in Errol Morris' new nonfiction film Fast, Cheap & Out of Control comes near its end. George Mendonça, a topiary gardener, is shaping a giant bush into an elephant..."

The Year in Books
Freedom, Finkler, and Kids of America
Books Story  January 7, 2011, by Kimberley Jones, Audra Schroeder, Wayne Alan Brenner, Cindy Widner, Jay Trachtenberg, James Renovitch and Richard Whittaker
"...Other books I loved this year traveled farther afield, as in a trio of nonfiction treats: Ben Macintyre's Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory (Crown), an almost indecently entertaining distillation of British World War II spy games, starring a 007 plucked from thin air (and featuring a cameo performance by future Bond brainfather Ian Fleming); Elif Batuman's The Possessed: Adventures With Russian Books and the People Who Read Them (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), a peppery, one-woman trumpeting of literature, learning, and language (too neglected, the lot); and Judith Shulevitz's The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time (Random House), a quieting kind of book that nevertheless blew my mind six ways to Sunday...."

Where 'Friend' Is a Four-Letter Word
Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin explores the fractious founding of Facebook in The Social Network
Screens Story  October 1, 2010, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...Sorkin, the writer and producer of the TV shows The West Wing, Sports Night, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, is famous for his characters' distinctively brisk speech patterns (as his extensive and high-speed answers to my questions spill from his lips, it's obvious in whose image his characters have been molded). Sorkin has also directed some of that signature speed to his latest project, The Social Network, an adaptation of Ben Mezrich's nonfiction book The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal..."

Plays With Expectations
Jake Silverstein mixes fact and fiction, funny and bleak, to dramatize one journalist's coming-of-age
Books Story  April 16, 2010, by Kimberley Jones
"...He is adamant in referring throughout to the Jake of the book as a character, one who is "like a Dashiell Hammett character, but he inhabits an S.J. Perelman world." As the editor of a nationally renowned magazine (he succeeded Evan Smith in the fall of 2008), Silverstein makes sure I know that the nonfiction has all been vigorously fact-checked and that the fiction pieces – even though they carry over from the nonfiction the same characters and places – are entirely the product of his imagination..."

Lit-urday: The Noble Hustle
Colson Whitehead's latest is an underachiever
DAILY Books  September 13, 2014, by Amy Kamp
"...The Noble Hustle, Colson Whitehead’s seventh book and his second work of nonfiction, began its life as “Occasional Dispatches From the Republic of Anhedonia,” a four-part series for Grantland. According to Whitehead, after he turned down the magazine’s initial request for a contribution, its editor convinced him by offering to pay for Whitehead to compete in the 2011 World Series of Poker - a $10,000 stake..."

Even Flow
The Wounded Warrior Project and MSNBC bring the war home via an Austin connection
Screens Story  July 24, 2014, by Kate X Messer
"...Wounded is a collaboration between WWP and Flow Nonfiction, an Austin production company that specializes in cause marketing and branded film production – a smooth way to say commissioned content via paid partnerships in which partner/subjects actively participate in the messaging. Accord­ing to Executive Creative Director David Modigliani, Flow first met both WWP's communications director and MSNBC.com Executive Editor/on-air personality Richard Wolffe at South by South­west..."

Life Before 'Mean Girls' and YOLO
Austin Film Society presents 'Teenage'
Screens Story  August 16, 2013, by Anne S. Lewis
"...The resulting film, Teenage, is not your garden-variety historical documentary. Coloring way outside the lines of traditional nonfiction filmmaking, the film is a riveting, sensory-overloaded representation of the fits and starts and cocoonlike emergence of the continually evolving teen culture we know today..."

Kickstart Your Weekend: 'Bloody Work'
A 125-year-old cold case sees new light onscreen
DAILY Screens  June 14, 2013, by Monica Riese
"...Now, filmmaker Martin Wagner is bringing the story to the big screen in a "nonfiction film" called Bloody Work. His Kickstarter goal of $10,500 was reached in a quick 70 hours, but now he's set a new stretch goal, and he's taking a unique approach to it..."

The Year in Books
Thirty-one titles that got us talking this year
Books Story  January 6, 2012, by Kimberley Jones, Sarah Smith, James Renovitch, Cindy Widner, Monica Riese and Wayne Alan Brenner
"...There were nonfiction treats, though their pleasures were more piecemeal. The incandescent first chapter of Gabrielle Hamilton's memoir Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef (Random House)..."

Compose Yourself
SXSW Film announces first wave of conference sessions
DAILY Screens  October 26, 2011, by Kimberley Jones
"...Another 14 Convergence sessions were announced; Convergence panels emphasize the cross-pollination between Film and Interactive. Austin-based Convergence speakers include Austin Kleon and Flow Nonfiction's David Modigliani and Matt Naylor...."

It Is What It Is
The year in books
Books Story  January 4, 2008, by Kimberley Jones
"...On the nonfiction front, our personal favorites numbered two: The Braindead Megaphone (Riverhead Trade) and The New Kings of Nonfiction (Riverhead Books). The first – from fiction writer George Saunders, who wooed audiences at November's Texas Book Festival with his dead-sexy mix of corduroy and wry – was a collection of essays kicked off by a coulda-been-dour piece decrying public apathy that read instead like a rousing call to action..."

Josh Rosenblatt Has Seen the Future, and It Isn't Pretty
Magic eight-balling 2008, month by month
DAILY Screens  January 3, 2008, by Josh Rosenblatt
"... Meanwhile the publishing industry is having its best year since 1981, the year Gerald Ford’s tell-all autobiography, I’m the President, Go Fuck Yourself, sold 5 million copies. Book sales are up in all genres – fiction, nonfiction, historical fiction, fictionalized nonfiction, nonfictionalized historical nonfiction, gardening..."

John Graves, Writer
Thoreau, like many of the modern-day nature writers, had a cause. Graves sees himself as a writer who chooses a subject.
Books Review  May 25, 2007, by Joe O'Connell
"...He's also a failed novelist whose lifetime output, almost entirely creative nonfiction, is slim but exceedingly impressive. Heaberlin ordered me to consume Goodbye to a River, which tells of Graves' three-week canoe trip down the Brazos River in the late Fifties just prior to the building of a series of dams that would erase a part of the Texas that was..."

In Person
Last week Edmund Morris, the author of Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan, read from his controversial biography at BookPeople; Clay Smith reports from the scene.
Books Story  November 5, 1999, by Clay Smith
"...It was just too fitting for Morris to read that passage. Ostensibly, the debate occasioned by Dutch is about the parameters of fiction and nonfiction, with flimsy fiction in one corner and sturdy, trustworthy nonfiction in the other..."

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