My Kind of Memoir

Elva Trevi--o Hart's Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Child (Bilingual Press, $17 paper)

One consequence of the proliferation of memoirs is manifested in reviews of them; there's now a necessity, if a reviewer wants to recommend a memoir, to say that it "rises above all those other memoirs" or to stress that it isn't one of those whiny, weepy confessionals. It's worth repeating after reading Elva Treviño Hart's Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Child (Bilingual Press, $17 paper), which is a memoir but, as its subtitle indicates, is more concerned with demonstrating and replicating the storytelling the author experienced while growing up in South Texas. In 1953, when she was only three years old, her parents took their family from Pearsall, Texas, to Minnesota and Wisconsin in order to find more work in the fields, but a child labor law stipulated that Treviño Hart and her 11-year-old sister had to stay behind. So they became boarders at a Catholic school. "I was the only one still considered too young to work in the beet fields, even with the short hoe," Treviño Hart writes. "'Stay on this side of the truck so I can see you,' Amá [her mother] said to me. 'Or underneath it if the sun gets too hot.' Other kids my age got to stay at the migrant camp, maybe to baby-sit younger brothers and sisters."

That last sentence has its underpinnings in deep regret; the author is concerned in this book with depicting triumph over adversity -- in the eighth grade, for example, she won the High Point Mexican Girl award though a white classmate's similar award was called the High Point Girl award -- but is clearly more interested in the harsh influence of poverty on people's characters -- on the characters of her family members. There are three opportunities to see the author read from her work, but you won't find her at any local bookstore for some weird reason. Instead, she's reading and signing her book at three local libraries. On Monday, July 26, Treviño Hart will be at Faulk Central Library (800 Guadalupe) at 7pm; the next day, she'll be at the Yarborough Branch (2200 Hancock Dr.) at noon; and at 7pm on Tuesday, July 27, she'll be at the Terrazas Branch (1105 East Cesar Chavez) at 7pm. The Friends of the Austin Public Library will be selling Barefoot Heart at each event.

Bleeding Edge Tour

Random House is sending three authors -- Po Bronson, Gary Rivlin, and Kara Swisher -- to Book People on Thursday, June 29 at 7pm as part of the Silicon Valley Bleeding Edge Tour. Bronson is the author of The Nudist on the Late Shift: And Other True Tales of Silicon Valley (Harper's editor Lewis Lapham calls Bronson "the bard of Silicon Valley"), Rivlin's The Plot to Get Bill Gates is subtitled An Irreverent Investigation of the World's Richest Man ... and the People Who Hate Him, and Swisher is the author of How Steve Case Beat Bill Gates, Nailed the Netheads, and Made Millions in the War for the Web, which The New York Times says "reads like a corporate disaster movie."

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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, Claiborne Smith, Clay Smith, Elva Treviño Hart, Barefoot Heart: Stories Of A Migrant Child, Gary Rivlin, Kara Swisher, Po Bronson, The Plot To Get Bill Gates, The Nudist On The Late Shift, How Steve Case Beat Bill Gates, Nailed The Netheads, And Made Millions In The War For The Web.

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