Local Writers Now Victims

In a scenario that sounds disturbingly like the setup of a mystery novel, longtime Texas Monthly contributing editor Jan Reid, TM associate editor and former Chronicle managing editor Michael Hall, and TM assistant editor and Chronicle contributor John Spong fell victim to a taxicab robbery in Mexico City, where they'd traveled to see the Jesus Chavez boxing match. After the match, the three and former TM intern David Courtney hailed a cab; sometime during the cab ride, the driver inexplicably stopped the vehicle and from a second cab that had been following the first several armed muggers emerged and cornered the group as a scuffle ensued. Reid suffered bullet wounds in the wrist, abdomen, and near the spine. As of this writing it wasn't certain whether Reid will suffer permanent paralysis of the legs. TM executive editor Greg Curtis reports that neither Hall, Spong, nor Courtney were seriously injured.

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."

Only Connecting

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.

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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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