Local Writers Now Victims
Denis Johnson Departs
On Monday, May 4, 7:30pm in the Communications Building A auditorium (at the corner of Dean Keeton St. and Whitis Blvd.) Denis Johnson, who has been the Michener Center for Writers visiting professor this spring, will read from a novel he's currently working on, though he tends to bring three or four books to the podium, assess the mood, and then decide what he will read. It's been a "glorious" semester for Johnson and his wife and two children, and in fact the Johnsons are trying to figure out how to make a visit to Austin an annual event, like right after Christmas, when northern Idaho tends to be inhospitable. In the course of persuading his creative writing students to take acting classes, he himself signed up for a class with C.K. McFarland, which in an entirely unexpected twist of events led him to write two short three-act plays. Johnson, whose most recent book is Dead Already: A California Gothic, has both a nonfiction and fiction contract with HarperCollins, the nonfiction to be a collection of his travel writing and the fiction three novellas; having the two contracts at once is like a "toss-up or a race or something." Novelist and Chronicle contributor Jesse Sublett calls Denis Johnson a "twisted trickster of a writer" who is "trippy but not flaky."
What was that guiding dictum behind E.M. Forster's works? Something like "Only connect..."? In line with a fine literary tradition of bastardizing that philosophy, here are a few interesting connections: Atlanta publisher Longstreet Press plans a publication date of October 1 for Hill Country, El Paso resident Janice Woods Windle's second book; her first was the wildly popular True Women. Hill Country is a work of historical fiction whose protagonist is Laura Hoge Woods, the author's paternal grandmother who was a close friend of LBJ's mother, Rebecca Baines Johnson. Janice's father, Wilton Woods, grew up with and attended college with LBJ. Longstreet's publicist for Hill Country is Scott Bard, who is the son of Ray Bard, the publisher behind local business book publisher Bard Press, where Scott worked for 4 1/2 years before heading to Atlanta to work for Longstreet. The literary publicity world is a small and very interconnected one, so maybe these coincidences are the rule instead of the exception. Windle purposely sought out a Southern publisher for Hill Country; New York's Putnam published True Women.