The Austin Chronicle


By Clay Smith, December 5, 1997, Books

Mixed Notes

Random House, James Michener's longtime publisher, recently announced plans to establish the James A. Michener Memorial Prize, to be awarded annually beginning February 3 (Michener's birthday), 1999 to an author who has published a first book at age 40 or later. Michener himself was about 40 when he published his first book, Tales of the South Pacific, in 1947. Recipients will receive $10,000 a year for five years. Fine-tuning the selection process will take some time, but it looks as if the process will work something like this: Random House and the Texas Center for Writers (currently working on somehow including "Michener" in the title of the organization) will create a board of nominators, who will each be allowed to submit the name of a deserving writer, in fiction or nonfiction, to a panel of judges chosen by TCW. The writer should be in need of financial assistance in order to continue his or her writing career...

Speaking of Michener and deserving writers, local poet and 1995 Texas Center for Writers graduate and Michener fellow Jack Brannon will read from his new collection of poems, Vigil, at Book People, Tuesday, December 9, 7pm. Brannon established his own small press, Abby Press, to publish the book "on the grounds that perhaps it is better to have a book than to not have a book."...

The HRC has just announced that Leon Uris, author of Battle Cry, Exodus, and Trinity, as well as numerous screenplays and photography books, is placing his literary archives there. Materials have already begun arriving at the HRC, but the chance to view the items won't realistically occur until sometime in 1998. The HRC has also recently acquired Isaac Bashevis Singer's Nobel Prize for Literature, awarded in 1978, on loan for the HRC's first major exhibition of the Singer archive "Yiddish Has Not Yet Said Its Last Word," opening February 16, 1998. (All Nobel Prize medals made before 1980 were struck in 23K gold. Presently, the medals are made from 18K green gold plated with 23K gold. The Singer archive is a gift of Singer's wife, the late Mrs. Alma Singer, and a group of individual Texas donors.) When Mrs. Singer visited the HRC in 1994, she had this to say about her husband's papers: "He would never let me into his study when [the papers] were at home in New York. I'm glad to see them here, cleaned up." In addition, the widow of Pulitzer Prize winner Bernard Malmud (1914-1986; The Fixer, 1967) has recently made a gift to the Center of a portion of Malmud's archive. The acquisition of archives like these has prompted the HRC to announce a campaign to raise $12.5 million for the "acquisition, preservation, and exhibition of important collections related to modern Jewish literature and culture," known as the Jewish Literature and Culture Initiative.


At Borders on Saturday, December 6, 1pm, Texas cookbook authors Miguel Ravago (Bertram's), Eddie Wilson (Threadgill's), Arthur L. Meyer (Texas Tortes, UT Press), and Joanne Smith (Cuisine, Texas: A Multiethnic Feast, UT Press), along with local band Reckless Kelly will hold a "Texas Cookbook Extravaganza," with free food...

At Book People, December 10, 7pm, local biographer Austin Teutsch will read from his trade paperback Barbara Jordan: The Biography, scheduled for release December 6 and published by Golden Touch Press of Cedar Park.

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