Book news, signings, and author appearances this week.

I had been asked to go bird watching with the man who is quickly becoming America's new Audubon, or at least being marketed that way (the press kit for David Sibley's new book The Sibley Guide to Birds declares that first there was John James Audubon, then Roger Tory Peterson, and now David Allen Sibley). On Wednesday morning at the Hornsby Bend Biosolids Treatment Facility, it was unseasonably frosty, so it was no surprise that there was keen interest among the group of booksellers and journalists about how migration works. Did the birds know that the cold front was coming? Yes, they probably knew, the ever-patient Sibley responded. But then he pointed to some swallows and said, "Now they're sorry that they're here" because they "specialize" in flying insects and all the flying insects had flown away. When Sibley described the color of one bird's head as "rufus," a confused member of the group said that that was not a color in the box of Crayons he grew up with. It's clear that Sibley has had plenty of practice communicating esoteric avian notions to the uninitiated. He began bird watching when he was six and drawing them when he was seven. Since his father is an ornithologist, he wasn't cajoled to try softball or anything typical like that. In fact, he dropped out of college to concentrate on bird watching, which his parents were concerned about, he said, though he's clearly made up for the early departure from academia. The first printing of 100,000 copies of The Sibley Guide to Birds sold out in two weeks, which surprised the author, since he thought only bird enthusiasts would be interested in his book. But even a cursory glance at The Sibley Guide to Birds gives a clear indication of its odd allure. Sibley writes that the voice of the territorial common nighthawk male, for example, is a "rasping, nasal, descending buzz BEEErzh. ... At nest site female gives low clucks and purring or hissing growls." The Sibley Guide is an excellent book for both the expert and those who want to be... Jesse Sublett, who is about to complete work on his "rock & roll and cancer memoir," with a working title of Supercool: Jesse Sublett, unexpectedly found himself listed as a bestselling author on the popular online bookstore Advanced Book Exchange... Southwestern University is bringing Joyce Carol Oates to campus on Tuesday, Nov. 14, at 7:30pm, in the Alma Thomas Theater. Call 512/863-1241 to reserve free tickets that can be picked up at the event... Michael Ondaatje is coming to Austin on Wednesday, Nov. 15, at 8pm, in the CMA Auditorium on the UT campus, in Communications Bldg. A, at the corner of Dean Keeton and Whitis. Open and free to the public. For more information call 471-1601... On Thursday, Nov. 16, at 7:30pm at Barnes & Noble Arboretum, Gary Cartwright will read from Turn Out the Lights: Chronicles of Texas During the 80s and 90s.

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.

Support the Chronicle  

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

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle