Thinning the Herd

Certainly there are worse fates. If we must havefates,it's actually a very lucky one to be able to watchthe latest books arrive at your office, for free, readwhat you want to of them and tell people what you think about them. But once the fall rolls around, the books pile into little mountains of text just waiting to be read. And, of course, not everythingis read. Thankfully, the publishing industry seems to have taken the idea of thinning the herd into practice. This month, William J. Bennett is back in paperback with The Spirit of America: Words of Advice From the Founders in Stories, Letters, Poems, and Speeches. His publisher, Touchstone Books, has given us fair warning, however. As if the huge font size of the author's name on the cover weren't signal enough to run the other direction, highlighted in red at the top of the front cover are the words "By The Editor of The Book of Virtues." And then there are those books that don't scream out "Read Me!" and thus are even more enjoyable when they turn out to be as wonderful and startling as Bone Voyage: A Journey in Forensic Anthropology by Stanley Rhine, professor emeritus of the Department of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. The book is, it seems, intended for students of forensic anthropology, but Rhine effortlessly transcends narrow categorizations by telling the tales behind his stint at the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator. Rhine states that "Forensic anthropologists are often challenged by their cases to probe into the misty realms of the unknown," and while the occasional photos of "nearly skeletonized remains" and the like may not be for all readers, Rhine's humor and good nature in reporting details like that are.


For their Not-Cormac Writing Contest, the El Paso Library Association is looking for the best "bad fakes" of Cormac McCarthy's writing," in the spirit of the long-established and renowned Bad Hemingway and Faux Faulkner writing contests." Send entries that are no longer than 500 words with $10 payable to the El Paso Library Association to Not-Cormac Writing Contest,

c/o Susie Byrd, 2709 Louisville, El Paso, TX 79930. Entries must be postmarked by September 25 and winners will be announced at the Cormac McCarthy Society Conference in El Paso on October 17. First-place winner will receive a signed copy of Cities of the Plain and prizes worth $300; second-place will receive $150 in prizes. Judges are El Paso author Abraham Verghese, Don Graham, and Molly Ivins. Call 915/566-9072 for more information.


Local authors are reading Thursday, September 10: At 7pm at Book People, Sharon Kahn will introduce her first novel, Fax Me a Bagel: A Novel Introducing Ruby, the Rabbi's Wife. At 7pm at Barnes & Noble Guadalupe, Don Carleton, the director of the Center for American History, will read from his new book from the Texas State Historical Association, A Breed So Rare: The Life of J.R. Parten, Liberal Texas Oil Man. The Austin Writers' League will be busy on Saturday, September 19: At 10:30am at their office at 1501 W. Fifth, AWL, with The Texas Observer, will offer a free workshop titled "Contract Basics for Freelance Writers," which will cover elements of a writing contract, copyright fundamentals, simple negotiating techniques, and sample contracts. Reservations are available by calling 499-8914. And then at 6:30pm at Barnes & Noble Westlake, there will be an awards ceremony where the winners of the 1998 Violet Crown Awards will be announced.

Also at Barnes & Noble Guadalupe will be poet and essayist Richard Cole, whose work Allen Ginsberg described as "bulging with intense moments," reading from his new book Success Stories, on September 17, 7pm. On September 19, 2pm, David O'Neal reads from his new novel What Goes Around.

ity for 30,000 books "but we're not in a rush to fill it up," says Bob Wolfkill, Asylum Books' owner. "We're maintaining our commitment to offer high quality, interesting, and hard-to-find titles, many of which you'd be lunlikely to find elsewhere in town, and that takes patience."...

The Jerry Strickland Library has now opened at the Cornerstone Gay and Lesbian Community Center (1117 Red River). It houses over 2,500 volumes and was the vision of Jerry Strickland Jr., a volunteer at Out Youth who died in 1994 but collected many of the works and resources available at the library. Call 708-1234 for more information...

Borders hosts San Antonio mystery writer Rick Riordan as the guest leader of the Mystery Lovers Discussion Group, Wednesday, September 9, 7:30pm. Riordan's latest, The Widower's Two-Step, was reviewed this summer by The New York Times, whose Marilyn Stasio says that The Widower's Two-Step has "terrific Texas color." Riordan and his wife recently moved back to San Antonio from San Francisco. Writing in this month's Austin Writer, the Austin Writers' League's monthly newsletter, Riordan ponders why it took him 20 years to heed that perrenial advice to "write about what you know." He provides an addendum to that dictum: "You have to write about what you know from an arm's length. The subject matter has to be both completely familiar and completely fresh. That's a hard balance to strike." Austin Writer columnist Lana Castle, who as the Style Meister fields all kinds of proofreading and stylistic calls with utmost competence and panache, will be discussing her book Style Meister: The Quick-Reference Custom Style Guide, at Book People, Tuesday, September 8, 7pm. Look for folk singer Judy Collins to read from her new book (and perhaps break into song according to her publicist) at Book People, Monday, September 14, 7pm. Her new book, Singing Lessons: A Memoir of Love, Loss, Hope and Healing, is about her son Clark's suicide. See page XX, our newly redesigned Calendar page, for the news on an event with about 20 Texas authors revealing cooking secrets at Barnes & Noble Westlake, Sunday, September 6, 3pm. The book is Stirring Prose, by San Antonio pathologist and freelance writer Deborah Douglas, who has assembeled recipes from 39 Texas authors. The book is from A&M Press...

Back to Borders: On Thursday, September 10, 7:30pm, Borders hosts a roamnce writers panel titled "Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women." The panelists, all of them local authors, include Jean Brashear (The Bodyguard's Bride), Pamela Ingrahm (The Texas Ranger and the Tempting Twin), Peggy Moreland (The Rancher's Spittin Image, The Restless Virgin), and Patricia Wynn (A Pair of Rogues)...

Owl Books has just published Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day, by Joan Bolker, Ed.D. (paper, $15.95). One telling line: "Back in chapter 5 I warned you to keep a sustainable pace."...

Something funny: September is "Be Kind to Editors and Writers Month."

Book news for "Postscripts" must be received at least one week prior to issue date. Mail to: The Austin Chronicle, PO Box 49066, Austin, TX, 78765; fax 458-6910; or e-mail

In Memoriam

An ardent theatre artist and activist has passed on. Bill Jay died Tuesday, August 12, of a heart attack. Jay's contributions to Austin theatre were varied, both on and offstage. He appeared as an actor in Amadeus, the Texas Young Playwrights Festival, Easy Does the Stars (for Capitol City Playhouse), Woman in Mind, Black Coffee (for Different Stages), Scenes From an Execution (for The Public Domain), The Baltimore Waltz, Murder at the Planet (for VORTEX Repertory Company), and, his final project, the VORTEX Summer Youth Theatre production of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. He directed the VORTEX productions Steel Kiss, Small Craft Warnings, Temporarily Yours, and the Summer Youth Theatre production of Enemy of the People. When he wasn't making contributions to theatre as an artist, Jay often made them as a stage manager. And he offered additional support as a board member, for VORTEX and the Austin Circle of Theatres. On these fronts and others, he will be missed. At his family's request, Jay will be buried in California, but a memorial service is being planned for September 1 at Planet Theatre. For information, call Bonnie Collum at 478-LAVA.

Payne Pleasures 1997

The Austin Circle of Theatres has released its nominations for the 1996-97 B. Iden Payne Awards, denoting excellence in local stage work from August, 1996 through July, 1997. This year, the number of categories has been reduced to 25, with separate categories for the genres of Comedy and Drama combined in six categories for Play. A total of 49 productions from 27 companies earned nominations. The most honored were the Zachary Scott Theatre Center productions of The Gospel at Colonus (16 nominations, including Best Musical, and Best Director of a Musical for Dave Steakley) and Ruthless! The Musical (12 nominations, including Best Musical, another director nod for Steakley, Best Lead Actor, Musical for Joe York, and Best Lead Actress, Musical for Meredith Robertson). For its hit debut effort, Peter Pan, Austin Musical Theatre garnered 10 nominations (including Best Musical and Best Director of a Musical for AMT founders Scott Thompson and Richard Byron). Among productions of children's theatre, the kidsActing revival od Ruthless! The Musical (12 nominations, including Best Musical, another director nod for Steakley, Best Lead Actor, Musical for Joe York, and Best Lead Actress, Musical for Meredith Robertson). For its hit debut effort, Peter Pan, Austin Musical Theatre f The Velveteen Rabbit led the way with nine nominations (including Best Children's Theatre Production and Best Director of a Children's Theatre Production for Dede Clark), and among productions of non-musical plays, the UT Department of Theatre & Dance production of Vinegar Tom was the most recognized with nine nominations (including Best Play and Best Director of a Play for Laura Worthen). Current members of the organization will vote for their favorites this month, and the production awards, as well as special awards for service to and support of Austin theatre, will be presented during a ceremony at The Metropolitan Club, Monday, September 15. For information, call 499-8388.

Send literary, performing, and visual arts news to: "Articulations," PO Box 49066, Austin, TX 78765 or

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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


Readings, Signings, Clay Smith

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