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UT nets the papers of Liz Smith and Jim Crace, BookWoman's back in business, an O.Henry twofer, book-cart drill-team madness, and what's this about a new Books blog?

Get 'Em While the Getting's Good: In a late April New York Post column, once-and-forever Texan Liz Smith announced the University of Texas will acquire Smith's papers when she "depart[s] this vale." Erin L. Purdy at UT's Center for American History confirmed that Smith's papers would indeed join the center's collection, which already houses the papers of Walter Cronkite, Robert Trout, Sig Mickelson, and Andy Rooney. Not bad company to keep... Additionally, the Harry Ransom Center announced on Monday that it had acquired the archive of award-winning British author Jim Crace (Being Dead, Quarantine). Crace recently passed a month in Austin as a distinguished writer-in-residence at UT's James Michener Center for Writers; he was also doing a little fieldwork for a new novel set right here in the River City.

Back in Book: Local book lovers had a scare in late 2007 when Austin institution BookWoman faced closure after a rent hike. But instead of a death rattle, there was a rally of support; donations brought in enough cash to facilitate a change in venue, and after a lightning-quick turnaround (the store was shut down for only three days), BookWoman reopened on Feb. 17, in new digs at 5501 N. Lamar Ste. A-105. When I popped in last week, I found the store warm and welcoming ... and awfully quiet. Austinites may not be alert to the move yet, which is why, in addition to the usual book groups and author readings, BookWoman is planning a belated opening celebration on May 31. Keep an eye on the website (www.ebookwoman.com) for more details, or just drop in already and say hi.

O. Henry Twofer: These next two items have a shared name in common, and that's about it. The 2008 edition of The O. Henry Prize Stories: The Best Stories of the Year – the long-running short-story collection that's been edited since 2003 by author and UT professor Laura Furman – hits stands on May 8, with contributing authors like Alice Munro, Ha Jin, and Edward P. Jones. We're still pushing through the 20 stories included, but we will say that when we finished Lore Segal's "Other People's Deaths," we immediately wanted to flip back and start the story over again. Unrelated fact: Segal has also written several children's books; check out www.powertolearn.com/reading_lounge/video_books/index.shtml for a surreal rendering of her "Why Mole Shouted," as performed by Spike Lee and several members of the New York Knicks... If you're interested in participating in the 31st outing of the ever-popular O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships (taking place Downtown on May 17), then you'll need to register first at application.microassist.net/punoff.

This Is Way Better Than Jazz Hands: Already flush from Texas Book Festival-awarded grants amounting to $15,000, Austin Public Library had even more to celebrate at this year's Texas Library Association Conference when APL's Book Cart Drill Team, the Bibliofiles, won first place in the competition. Wanna learn more? Better yet, see more? (Seriously, the video will blow your mind.) Check out our brand-new books blog, Under the Covers, at austinchronicle.com/chronic.


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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

acquisitions, Harry Ransom Center, Liz Smith, Jim Crace, BookWoman

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