"...Roaring through forests and lives, the flames leave a charred trail of destruction, but never without the promise of regrowth. Released in October 2014, Wildfire, the debut novel by Austin native Mary Pauline Lowry, is, on the surface, the story of a lone woman on a wildland firefighter crew..."
"...Like Jennifer Dubois, who based her successful 2014 novel Cartwheel not so loosely on the Amanda Knox story, Gentry incorporates a few details of a famous crime case into her debut. Main character Julie Whitaker resembles Elizabeth Smart – "a girl, blonde, beautiful, and pink-cheeked..."
"...Salinger. "I've always wondered why more films don't employ the structure of novels," he says..."
"...Edward's University, Specht uses a "kaleidoscope of viewpoints" and inspiration from her time as a Fulbright Scholar in Nigeria to tell a remarkable story that crosses the East-West hemispheric divide. Her debut novel Migratory Animals (Harper Perennial, 320pp., $14.99) explores the ideas of home and health, family and future, and the paths cut by love and pain as a young scientist doing research in Nigeria must return to Austin and help her sister cope with the same disease that killed their mother..."
"...His debut novel In Between Days (Knopf) is deep, dark stuff, a striking assemblage of generational disintegration and distress. It takes its title from an uncharacteristically upbeat Cure song and deals with a midlife crisis amid the inherent entropy of the modern family unit..."
"...For a movie that just barely passes the hour-and-a-half mark, Brick Lane packs in a whole lot of information. Adapted from Monica Ali’s acclaimed debut novel, Gavron’s film is a primer on race relations in late 20th century England, a remembrance of lost time and lost places, a crash course in Bangladeshi social customs, a look inside the mind of the unhappily married woman, a celebration of sexual independence, a condemnation of romantic indifference, an anthropological study of life in modern-day London council housing, and a commentary on Muslim life after the attacks of September 11..."
"...Starring: Sam Rockwell, Kate Beckinsale, Michael Angarano, Griffin Dunne, Nicky Katt, Olivia Thirlby, Amy Sedaris and Tom Noonan. Midway through writer/director Green’s adaptation of Stewart O’Nan’s debut novel, high school freshman Arthur Parkinson (Angarano) – floppy-haired and affable, trombonist in the school marching band, the type of boy beloved by girls who wear horn-rimmed glasses and study photography – takes his father (Dunne) to task for leaving his mother one minute and then begging to be allowed back into her life the next..."
"...In Bill Wittliff's debut novel The Devil's Backbone, an 1880s boy known only as Papa recounts his search across the Texas Hill Country for his wayward mother and his own narrow escape from his father, mean Old Karl, who is hot on his tail. It's a wild, picaresque ride with a cast of colorful characters with whom Papa finds the sense of family otherwise missing from his life..."
"...A West Virginia native who came to Austin as a Michener fellow before high-tailing it back east to assume a professorial role teaching English at Lynchburg College, Laura Long understands the eternal tug-of-war that exists between braving new land and keeping one's home in Appalachia. Her debut novel, Out of Peel Tree, captures all the confusing baggage associated with trying to move forward from a land and family still stuck in time, throwing in a good but confusing chronological narrative to cloud the scene for good measure..."
"...We're not reviewing Amanda Eyre Ward's debut novel, Sleep Toward Heaven (MacAdam/Cage, $24), and we're not interviewing her as an author, either, because she has contributed to The Austin Chronicle for more than three years. I am a friend of Amanda's, as is my predecessor, Clay Smith, and Screens editor Kimberley Jones, and because I would have a rough time running a negative review of her book should a critic submit it (and wouldn't write one myself), a positive review would be almost automatic, which would be a negative..."
"...Scott Blackwood's slim debut novel, We Agreed to Meet Just Here, clocks in at 162 pages, and its original title was See How Small (which references a line in the novel: "See how small a thing it is that keeps us apart"). Blackwood smiles, remembering the reaction that original title sparked..."
"...Philipp Meyer was getting drunk on author and folklorist J. Frank Dobie's front porch when he decided to adapt his epic Texas novel The Son for the screen...."
"...Kevin Powers’ debut novel, The Yellow Birds, looks like a war novel, but it is really a novel about pieces, about the massive rents in identity caused by war, and the difficult work of repairing them...."
"...While En Vogue's anti-prejudice hit harmonies from "Free Your Mind" piped through the patio speakers, I sat with former Chronicle columnist Amy Gentry to discuss her debut novel, Good as Gone. The Houston native and longtime Austin resident was excited about her first time on the other side of the interview recorder, and I couldn't help but smile at the pop-magical music selection..."
"...In 1974, a 34-year-old writer living in Missoula, Mont., published his first novel. James Welch had grown up around the Blackfeet Indian Reservation – up on the Montana Hi-Line, where his father was from – and around his mother's Gros Ventre tribe..."
"...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)...."
"...Arturo Mancha would have called the theft of his debut novel five years in the writing devastating. Titled Auroboros, it would be the diamond in his sky..."
"...It's been a long week, and now you deserve to have one day when you can curl up with a good book – let's call it Lit-urday. Maybe you feel like a novel about a family's struggles that feels so true to life, you can't believe it isn't real...."
"...Sixteen categories spanning fiction, film, art, and fan work, plus the unaffiliated John W. Campbell Award for best new writer, make this something like the Academy Awards of sci-fi, with most fans listening for the announcement of Best Novel at the end of the night..."
"...What happens when the American Dream, manufactured as it is, goes up in smoke, taking your fortunes with it? Such is the question posed by Jade Chang in her debut novel, which follows the fate of an immigrant businessman and his first-generation children after the collapse of his cosmetics empire...."
"...Eimear McBride's debut novel has won so many awards – Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, the Desmond Elliott Prize, the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year, the Goldsmiths Prize – and received so much praise in the press that you'd hardly imagine the book was turned down by scores of publishers over nine years...."
"...It's been a long week, and now you deserve to have one day when you can curl up with a good book – let's call it Lit-urday. Maybe you feel like a novel so full of dancing, hard work, maternal beauty, and fierce independence that Queen Bey herself might enjoy this unique novel..."
"...Two graduates of UT’s Michener Center for Writers made the news this week for their novel work...."
"...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..."
"...When Belinda Acosta, the Chronicle's longtime "TV Eye" columnist, was contracted to write the flagship novel in Grand Central Publishing's A Quinceñera Club series, she had never actually attended a quinceañera, that all-important rite of passage into adulthood for the Latina girl. But soon enough Belinda was steeping herself in all things quinceañera: scouring books, attending trade shows, and even grilling other customers at the nail salon on their own experiences..."
"...Through Encino Press, founded with wife Sally in the Sixties, he's created important Texas books. Now he's written one, a novel called The Devil's Backbone that is both beautiful to look at (credit 25 images inside and a color cover drawn by Jack Unruh) and a joy to read (see sidebar, at right)..."
"...You're probably aware by now that since the election last November, dystopian novels have become all the rage. From George Orwell's venerable 1984 to Philip Roth's more recent The Plot Against America, tales of dark political dysfunction have seen a tremendous spike in sales..."
"...This week sees the release of Migratory Animals, the debut novel of local author Mary Helen Specht in which a scientist doing research in Nigeria is called home to Austin to help her sister cope with a medical crisis. In conjunction with her Jan..."
"...Cutting through the current cloud of romanticism surrounding food culture, Merritt Tierce's fearless debut novel Love Me Back is an unsentimental meditation on the transactional nature of love, desire, and food. It's also as juicy as a Wagyu steak..."
"...A gifted storyteller prevents the wholeness of a human from shrinking behind the shadows of one detail, one event, one fulcrum. In her debut novel, Dallas author Merritt Tierce writes a story that somehow retains an orchestral sound – no one note ringing too loud or too long – in the chaos of a young woman's teetering life...."
"...In her debut novel, The Carriage House (Scribner, 288 pp., $26), Louisa Hall takes a relaxed approach to reinterpreting Persuasion...."
"...First-time novelists are undeniably sexy. What more proof do you need than a recent portfolio in Interview -- that bastion of edgy hipness and glossy glamour -- titled "The First Time," in which seven debut novelists discussed their creations as they posed in Armani and Ralph Lauren duds, mugging for the camera as if they were supermodels..."
"...In their cozy 1970s Michigan suburb, the Lisbon girls live under what must feel like the suffocating supervision of their flighty science-teacher father (Woods) and their strict mother (Turner, who gained weight for the role), a severe woman whose dimples and occasionally bright eyes whisper of the great beauty buried under all the frump. Like the Jeffrey Eugenides novel from which Coppola faithfully adapted the film, The Virgin Suicides is narrated collectively by a group of men (given voice by Giovanni Ribisi) who remain, 25 years later, consumed by the petal-pink memories of the Lisbon sisters and haunted by the sadness that they could not penetrate..."
"...But slowly, through the impact of the disease, Jean begins to find meaning in his life. Based on Collard's autobiographical novel of the same title, Savage Nights is a distinctive voice in the new genre of AIDS-related narratives..."
"...Since then, Confab authors have gone on to receive prestigious fellowships and honors from the MacArthur Foundation (Ethiopian-born Dinaw Mengestu, 2011); the Guggenheim Foundation (Ben Marcus, 2012); and the American Academy of Arts and Letters (Manuel Gonzales, 2013). Last year's lineup featured Susan Steinberg, whose experimental short-story collection Spectacle is a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; and Fiona Maazel, whose novel Woke Up Lonely is short-listed for the Believer Book Award..."
"...Based on a novel by Juan José Plans and the Spanish film Who Can Kill a Child?, made from the novel in 1976, Come Out and Play takes another swing at the material. I’m not familiar with those works, but if you’ve seen Village of the Damned or Children of the Corn, you’ll find yourself in recognizable territory..."
"...It’s the kind of movie that lives and dies by a viewer’s own idiosyncrasies, and Thumbsucker found my soft spots for sure. Based on Walter Kirn’s 1999 novel, Thumbsucker details roughly a year in the life of Justin Cobb, an Oregon-based 17-year-old and lifelong thumbsucker..."
"...Starring: Uma Thurman, John Hurt, Rain Phoenix, Noriyuki “Pat” Morita, Keanu Reeves, Lorraine Bracco, Angie Dickinson and Buck Henry. What this film adaptation of Tom Robbins' popular Seventies novel may ultimately prove is that when the prevailing wisdom regards a particular book as “unfilmable,” adapters should heed the warning rather than accept the challenge..."
"...On Oct. 12, he'll add published mystery novelist to his list of accomplishments with the release of his debut novel, The Bookseller (Seventh Street Books)...."
"...A sane proposition, of sorts, until you consider the matter of Chester's decapitated head in the hatbox that Lucille carries around everywhere she goes …. Adapted from Mark Childress' novel of the same name, Crazy in Alabama isn't just a comedy with feminist overtones..."
"...Spinning a tale within a tale that recursively loops back and forth throughout a relationship’s beginning, middle, end, and beyond, Ford, adapting from the late Austin Wright’s novel Tony and Susan, again uses Alfred Hitchcock as a touchstone but this time adds more than a little Douglas Sirk...."
"...Helen Fielding's 1996 book chronicles a year in the life of Bridget Jones -- 32-year-old singleton, compulsive dieter, and pity party of one -- perhaps the most popular (and reviled) comic creation of the past decade. The coup of Fielding's novel was to write a character whose neuroses and self-absorption were so hopelessly, embarrassingly familiar to single women that we couldn't help but love her -- or want to slap her silly..."
"...See “A Novel Approach,” July 3, for an interview with the filmmaker...."
"...Writer, director, and cinematographer Cary Fukunaga hardly misses a horror in this immersive story about a child soldier in Africa. Adapted from Uzodinma Iweala’s novel, the film is set in an unnamed country beset by perpetual war between government and rebel forces..."
"...Starring: Tobey Maguire, Charlize Theron, Michael Caine, Delroy Lindo, Paul Rudd, Jane Alexander, Kieran Culkin, Kathy Baker, Kate Nelligan, Heavy D and Erykah Badu. Novelist John Irving wrote the screenplay for The Cider House Rules based on his own novel, and the film certainly shows signs of the novelist's recurrent narrative gambit of young individuals trying to discover their place in the world and moral codes by which to live..."
"...For a film that's being marketed as “one you'll be talking about for some time,” I had trouble recalling what on earth was going on even as I walked out of the theatre. Adapted from Lew McCreary's novel, The Minus Man follows the rambling path of Vann Siegert (Wilson), an amiable blond traveler with wistful eyes and a bashful grin that belies his penchant for serial killing..."
"...Starring: Alan Bates, Theresa Russell, Sting, Trudie Styler, Lena Headey, Jim Carter, Chris Barnes, Steven Mackintosh and Anna Massey. Scrupulously based on Patrick McGrath's novel The Grotesque, Gentlemen Don't Eat Poets is so thoroughly a British class farce that it may not translate well to stateside audiences..."
"...Starring: Armand Assante, Antonio Banderas, Cathy Moriarty and Maruschka Detmers. This film adaptation of Oscar Hijuelos' Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, tells the story of two Cuban brothers, Cesar (Assante) and Nestor (Banderas) Castillo..."
"...For those who haven’t read the Mark Helprin novel on which Akiva Goldsman’s film is based, prepare to be confused, annoyed, bewildered, and yet more annoyed by the director’s inability to construct even the most basic of narrative fantasy romances. I haven’t read Helprin’s novel, but many in the audience at the screening I attended had, resulting in gales of laughter aimed at this decidedly serious film..."
"...Featuring Sam Lipsyte, Fiona Maazel, Susan Steinberg, Teddy Wayne, and Austin's own Manuel Gonzales, it may be the Confab's most stylistically diverse slate yet. From Gonzales' genre-bending short stories to Maazel's sprawling, chaotic novels and Steinberg's delicate experiments in language and identity, the Confab offers a snapshot of some of the most exciting directions in literary fiction...."