New Voices

For many people, February means "cold," but for many publishers, it means "literary." February is not the time when: a) Christmas books are sold, b) summer reading is sold, c) sweet Mother's and Father's Day books are sold, or d) Danielle Steele and other highly commercial authors come out with their books (usually May). It is, however, a time when people seem to be looking for new voices and ideas to shepherd them through the year. Denise Roy, a Simon & Schuster editor who edited local author Debra Monroe's Newfangled, speaks of September and October as the "high fall," when the Christmas books start coming down the pipeline; after running its course the high fall leaves open a space for "new and interesting voices" in these immediately post-holiday months. Sometimes in August a bit of literary fiction eeks out, but if you're looking for, as publishers term them, "review-driven books," just wait for February. Although Roy cautions that not all publishing houses operate by that seasonal schedule, her assessment of this phenomenon certainly rings true in Austin this month. Here's a look at some literary names reading in town this month: Already, Monroe, Martin Amis, poet Louise Glück, and Michael Blumenthal of When History Enters the House have appeared. On Thursday, February 5, 4pm at Barnes & Noble Guadalupe, UT professor James Sidbury discusses his new book Ploughshares Into Swords, an analysis of slave rebellions in 18th and 19th-century Virginia. Also on February 5, 7pm at Book People is local poet Sue Littleton reading from her latest collection of poetry, Ekutsihimmiyo. On Friday, February 6, 7pm, local author Larry Wright will discuss and sign his book Twins at Barnes & Noble Arboretum. Also February 6, 7pm at Book People is Pearl Cleage, playwright, essayist, and columnist, who is touring with her first novel, What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day. Acclaimed historian Iris Chang appears at Book People February 8, 3pm, to discuss her new book, The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II. Philosophical cookbook author Edward Espe Brown will be at Borders February 8, 4pm, to present Tomato Blessings and Radish Teachings. Sponsored by the Texas Center for Writers is a talk by Paris Review editor George Plimpton on Tuesday, February 10, 8pm; from 5-6pm the same day, he'll be at Book People. Both these events are ticketed, though free. To obtain tickets to the TCW event, visit TCW offices at 702 E. Dean Keeton (26th St.) or call 471-1601. For the Book People event, tickets will be released beginning 6pm the evening of Feb. 9. Austinite Arthur Bradford reads from his short story "Catface," included in Prize Stories 1997: The O. Henry Awards at Book People, Friday, February 13, 7pm. And Wednesday, February 18, 7pm at Barnes & Noble Guadalupe brings Shia Shabazz Barnett reading from My Soul Sings Acappella. Another local author, Austin Teutsch, reads from Barbara Jordan: The Biography Thursday, February 19, 7pm at Barnes & Noble Arboretum. You might want to visit Barnes & Noble Westlake's Texana Book Group, Wednesday, February 25, 7:30pm, for a discussion of The Slave Narratives of Texas, edited by Ron Tyler of the Texas State Historical Association. Also sponsored by Texas Center for Writers is Ron Hansen, who will read at UT's fourth floor auditorium at the HRC, Thursday, February 26, 7:30pm. Hansen is most recently the author of the novels Mariette in Ecstacy and Atticus, which was a finalist for the National Book Award.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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More Postscripts
The last time we heard about Karla Faye Tucker, she was being executed; now, almost four years later, there's a new novel about her. Or about someone very like her. And Beverly Lowry's classic Crossed Over, a memoir about getting to know Karla Faye Tucker, gets a reissue.

Clay Smith, Jan. 18, 2002

Not one day back from vacation and the growing list of noble souls who need to be congratulated is making Books Editor Clay Smith uneasy.

Clay Smith, Jan. 11, 2002

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