The Austin Chronicle


March 17, 2000, Books

The mysterious and controversial Peña diary is up for an entire day of discussion on Saturday, April 29, from 9am-6:30pm at UT's Center for American History in a conference titled "Eyewitness to the Texas Revolution: José Enrique de la Peña and His Narrative." In 1975, the first English translation of Peña's account that David Crockett was captured and executed soon after the fighting at the Alamo siege ended caused a major controversy that to this day has never quite died down. People insisted Crockett died while fighting; others suggested the Peña diary is a forgery. In the early Seventies, San Antonio businessman John Peace acquired the Peña diary in Mexico and housed it on loan at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Two years ago, members of the Peace family withdrew the manuscript in order to sell it. More Texas businessmen, Charles Tate and Thomas Hicks, bought it in an auction and then donated it to the Center for American History, which holds the largest collection in existence on the history of the Texas Revolution. During the conference, Stephen Harrigan (The Gates of the Alamo: A Novel) will speak, as will various scholars of the Texas Revolution and experts on forged historical and literary documents. Deadline for pre-registration is April 14; $10 for pre-registration, $15 for on-site registration. Call 495-4515 for more information... Austin author Kathy Hepinstall will be at BookPeople on Tuesday, March 21, at 7pm, to read from and sign her new novel The House of Gentle Men. In a February 11 review, Chronicle reviewer Katherine Catmull wrote that The House of Gentle Men "dances deftly along that uniquely Southern line between realism and magic realism, conjuring a world that just slightly blurs the distinction between the wondrous and the everyday. ... This is a deeply poetic novel, haunting as a fable, and enormously generous of spirit."... Mountain Biking Central Texas has grown up since it was first published six years ago. Originally a little pamphlet that Becky Youman and her brother Rick Youman put together, Mountain Biking Central Texas is now a real, live book and features more than 20 locations and 50 trails. It can be purchased for $9.95 at area bike shops... The Texas Institute of Letters has announced this year's winner of the Lon Tinkle Award for excellence sustained throughout a career and the finalists for other annual prizes: Walt McDonald, a poet and short story writer is the Tinkle Award winner. The finalists for the Steven Turner Award for best first work of fiction are Mitch Cullin, Whompyjawed; Robert Draper, Hadrian's Walls; and Cole Thompson, Chocolate Lizards. The finalists for the Jesse H. Jones Award for fiction include Joe Coomer, Apologizing to Dogs; Rick Demarinis, New and Selected Stories; and Larry McMurtry, Duane's Depressed. Up for best short story of the year are Rick Bass for "Swans," which first appeared in Story; Tracy Daugherty's "Comfort Me With Apples" (Southern Review); and Annette Sanford's "Mr. Moore's Old Car," from her collection Crossing Shattuck Bridge. Winners will be announced April 15.

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