Texas Books

Looking ahead to the onslaught of fall titles that are already arriving at the Chronicle, there are many of local and state interest: Isaac's Storm, by Erik Larson, will be out in September from Crown. It uses the Galveston hurricane of 1900, which left 8,000 people dead, to tell a story of extreme human error. Isaac Cline, the head meteorologist of the Galveston station of the U.S. Weather Bureau, who so relied on data that he termed Galveston's vulnerability to fatal weather "an absurd delusion." "Slate fractured skulls and removed limbs," Larson writes. "Venomous snakes spiraled upward into trees occupied by people. A rocket of timber killed a horse in mid-gallop." Euhhh...

One new title from small press The Permanent Press in Sag Harbor, New York, is Mitch Cullin's Whompyjawed. Cullin grew up in Guthrie, Texas, and now lives in Tucson, Arizona; his uproarious, satirical first novel is the autobiographical account of Willy Keeler, football star. Of Claude High School. Part Greater Tuna, with a decided cue taken from The Last Picture Show, Whompyjawed follows Willy as he begins to realize that family, friends, coaches -- just about all of Claude -- have dubious interests in his success as a football player. ...

More football to be found in Louise Redd's Hangover Soup, Faith Ever's autobiographical account of surviving her husband Jay's bout with alcoholism, which makes this poignant novel sound more dire than it really is. Faith's stint as a tutor for University of Texas athletes is laugh-out-loud funny...

TCU Press is publishing Larry L. King's letters, A Writer's Life in Letters, or, Reflections in a Bloodshot Eye, edited by Dick Holland. One September, 1970, letter to Billie Lee Brammer begins, "I been seeing Larry McMurtry some. We drive down to rural Virginia and eat at a place where you can get hot-biscuits and red-eye gravy and listen to Ernest Tubb on the juke box and play like you back home again, though I don't know why we bother. I think we got cultural shock. He is one of the most enjoyable persons I ever been around not to drink much whiskey or smoke no dope." There are more not-quite-so-"authentic" passages where that came from. And there are other Texas books coming out soon; I'm sure I've left some people out.

Book Festival '99

Jerry Jeff Walker and Michael Nesmith are confirmed participants at the fourth annual Texas Book Festival, taking place November 5-7 at the Capitol, but don't expect musicians to take over. Scott Turow, Peter Matthiessen, Mary Higgins Clark, her daughter Susan Higgins Clark, Jane Smiley, and Roy Blount Jr. are some of the "non-Texans" who will be in attendance. Elmer Kelton, whose new Western The Buckskin Line should be in bookstores any day now, David Lindsey, Robert Draper, Carol Dawson, Louis Sachar, and Jan Jarboe Russell, author of Lady Bird: A Biography of Mrs. Johnson, are among the Texans giving readings or participating in panels. I'm sure I've left some people out.

Freelancers Meeting

Austin's new First Freelancers group meets the first Tuesday of each month at the Yarbrough branch library (2200 Hancock) from 11:30am-1pm. This Tuesday, August 3, ChristinePeel will lead a discussion about the advantages and disadvantages inherent for freelancers in marketing your services over the Internet. Free for members and first-time guests. For more information, call 452-2448.

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


Readings, Signings, Claiborne Smith

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