How to get Book Sense and why you'll be seeing lots of Texas Monthly in book form this fall.
This week we start printing the Book Sense bestseller list (p.49). Book Sense is a branding campaign initiated by the American Booksellers Association, a consortium of many of the nation's independent bookstores, to inform book buyers of the presence of independent bookstores and to create a national identity for them. A cornerstone of the effort is the bestsellers list, which the ABA intends to be seen as an alternative to The New York Times list. Nearly 1,000 stores participate in Book Sense and report their bestselling titles to the ABA. There are lists for fiction and nonfiction in both paperback and hardback, but we're running the list of recently published fiction. To see how books in other categories are selling at independents across the nation, access www.bookweb.org/booksense/bestsellers/... Expect yet another book in October from Bill Crawford, the Tasmanian devil of Austin letters, whirling here, whirling there, pulverizing trees and spitting out fully formed books -- this time it's Texas Death Row: Executions in the Modern Era (Longstreet Press, $15.95), a compendium of every file the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has kept on death row inmates since 1974. It's chilling, unlike Crawford's forthcoming Adam Sandler: America's Comedian and Democrats Do the Dumbest Things and Republicans Do the Dumbest Things, which were published this summer... Recent alumni and current fellows of the Michener Center's poetry program Steve Gehrke, Jill Alexander Essbaum, Marlys West, and Vive Griffith will read from their work on Thursday, Sept. 28, at 7:30pm in the fourth floor auditorium of the HRC on the UT campus (21st & Guadalupe)... "Jay J. Armes was running short on patience and long on doubt. He was slipping out of character. It was possible he had made a mistake," Gary Cartwright wrote in "Is Jay J. Armes for Real?" a January 1996 article in Texas Monthly. That article is now one of 17 Texas Monthly true crime articles collected in Texas Crime Chronicles (Warner Books, $6.99, mass market paperback). Cartwright's sentences are rhythmic and immediately evocative, and they stopped me in my tracks while I was worrying about that intriguing spectacle of classy writing being sold as if it were just so much trash. The cover copy of this book, "Outrageous True Stories of Murder and Mayhem in the Lone Star State" is begging for three exclamation points to finalize the sentiment, but once you get past all that, you'll find rigorously sculpted true crime writing -- brooding, tenacious, and, yes, ocasionally outrageous stuff. The book has 17 of the magazine's articles, including Mimi Swartz's "The Cheerleader Murder Plot," four of Cartwright's articles, and Skip Hollandsworth's "The Killer Cadets." But that's not all; these things have to come in threes, of course: A collection of TM scribe Jan Reid's writing, Close Calls: Jan Reid's Texas (Texas A&M Press, $29.95) is in stores now (and Reid will be at Barnes & Noble Arboretum on Thursday, Oct. 5, at 7:30pm). Out soon will be a collection of Cartwright's articles, Turn Out the Lights: Chronicles of Texas During the 80's and 90's (UT Press, $19.95).