Everything is illuminated extremely loud and incredibly close

Barry Hannah
Barry Hannah

Publishers Weekly has named BookPeople the 2005 National Bookseller of the Year, and will award store representatives in June at BookExpo America in New York. The honor, bestowed since 1992, recognizes the bookstore that epitomizes "excellence in buying, marketing, hand-selling, customer service, community involvement, management-employee relations, merchandising, innovation, and uniqueness, a well as business operations." You can probably imagine that this is a pretty big deal, and, to celebrate, BookPeople is having a pretty big party on Monday, April 25, 7pm. We're all invited, because, after all, we're a "Community Bound by Books."

• Texas State University Mitte Chair in Creative Writing and Ole Miss Creative Writing Chair Barry Hannah is recovering and "doing a whole lot better," according to a friend, after an undisclosed illness had him in a local hospital's intensive care unit for a week. Hannah was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2000, but this illness is apparently unrelated. The 62-year-old Hannah's most recent novel is 2001's masterpiece Yonder Stands Your Orphan, and in 2003, he said in an interview with the Chronicle that "I've had a big dose of close mortality lately, and it doesn't make me anxious to produce, but it just – here I sit with a cigarette in my hand – it reminds you of just how precious minutes are. You better be nice to folks and get your stuff done. Just cut the shit, you know? Cut the shit. ... But you never know, baby, you know? I've made 12 books. I don't believe I'd be ashamed if that were my last." Happily, it doesn't look like it will be. In the meantime, find a copy of The Paris Review's Winter 2005 issue, which features an excellent interview with the author.

• Meanwhile, among notable upcoming events of possible interest are the following (not included is Norman Mailer's April 27 appearance at the B. Iden Payne Theatre, presented by the Ransom Center and UT Co-op; for free tickets, go to the Performing Arts Center starting on Monday):

Naomi Shihab Nye
Naomi Shihab Nye

• Tonight, Thursday, March 31, Barry Glassner (The Culture of Fear) will be at UT's Hogg Auditorium. You might have some trouble getting in at this point, but call 475-6645 just in case and check next week's Chronicle for an "In Person" report.

National Library Week is sometime midmonth, and the Austin Public Library system is all over the place with commemorative events: Starting April 4 and through the end of the month, bring your old White Pages phone book to any Austin branch to have $1 donated to APL for the purpose of buying new books, courtesy of Network. Then, from April 5 through April 8, the Texas Library Association Conference will take place at the Austin Convention Center, the first time the capital city has hosted the event since the mid-Sixties. The only information that I'm going to give you about it – because, really, it's the only information you need – is that Gloria Estefan will be in attendance as the featured speaker on April 8. I should also tell you about the Rally for Texas Libraries on Wednesday, April 6, 4-5pm. Texas Monthly Editor Evan Smith, author Carmen Lomas-Garza, and American Library Association President Carol A. Brey-Casiano will be there – so should you. Be. Call 328-1518 or log onto for admission information and more.

• Former Austinite Alex Sanchez, bestselling author of Rainbow Boys and Rainbow High, will do a reading and signing at McCallum High School on Wednesday, April 6, at noon. According to AISD's Scott Wiggerman, Sanchez will "speak about growing up gay and [as] an immigrant, about how he came to write his books, and about the impact they are having on young people across the country."

• The next night, 7:30pm, Thursday, April 7, poet Naomi Shihab Nye will be at the ACES Building's Avaya Auditorium (24th & Speedway). Sponsored by the Michener Center, the event is free and open to the public. See for more information.

• April's Utter reading series at BookPeople happens on the 12th at 7pm and features award-winning poet and teacher Carrie Fountain, MFA candidate in fiction and screenwriting James Hannaham, and poet, playwright, and UT English Ph.D. candidate Liz Jones.

• Finally, the Texas Book Festival's On the Road in LBJ Country fundraiser for Texas libraries takes place April 8-9 near Stonewall and will feature readings from Elmer Kelton, Scott Zesch, and Mary Gordon Spence; Western swing music and barbecue, as well as children's activities; and a minifestival including the likes of Billy Joe Shaver, Nellie Connally, H.W. Brands, Liz Carpenter, Marian Martinello, Harry Middleton, Robert Utley, and more. Sound like fun? I agree wholeheartedly. Call 830/644-2420 or e-mail for everything else you need to know to go.

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