Daily Arts
A Pre-Teen Genius Cartographer?
Yes, he's all of 12 years old.

Not the author, no, he's thirtysomething, a writer and a filmmaker who's touring to promote this new book of his ~ The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet ~ and will be at Bookpeople on Wed., May 13, at 7pm, to do just that. His name is Reif Larsen, by the way: A blonde and dapper and rather Michael-Joplin-looking fellow. And, from what we've read thus far, one hell of a fine writer.

The 12-year-old we speak of here is T.S. Spivet, the book's protagonist, who receives an unexpected phone call from the Smithsonian because he's won the prestigious Baird Award for the Popular Advancement of Science. So he sets off from his parents' home in Montana to eventually incur the wonder and glories of Washington, DC ~ making maps of everything as he goes. Ah, but that's just one layer of this multileveled story, a story rich with historical and emotional layers and bordered (literally, on page after page) with the maps and illustrations and notations of young Spivet.

We imagine that if you set off on your own journey to Bookpeople this Wednesday night, you'll incur a few literary wonders and glories of your own as Reif Larsen shares with you a highlight or two from within his compelling work.

5:22PM Tue. May 12, 2009, Wayne Alan Brenner Read More | Comment »

Straight From the Horse's Mouth
We'll have a proper tribute to Bud Shrake in our Thursday print issue, but in the meantime, we point you to our archives – most particularly to this interview conducted in 1985 by Chronicle Editor Louis Black. In it, a funny and forthcoming Bud Shrake talked about his career in the movies, from taking Hollywood actor Cliff Robertson to court in Travis County ("He showed up looking like somebody who had gotten dressed at the Salvation Army discard barrel") to Dennis Hopper's run-in with revolutionaries on the Mexico set of Kid Blue.

3:34PM Mon. May 11, 2009, Kimberley Jones Read More | Comment »

Dagoberto Gilb Hospitalized
Rumors were swirling last week about the health of Austin-based writer Dagoberto Gilb. A family representative put the rumors to rest with this statement released today: "Dagoberto Gilb had a minor stroke on April 29. He is grateful for everybody’s concern and well wishes, and is now privately recuperating in rehab. He will be released within a few weeks and is looking forward to resuming writing and working." The award-winning writer’s most recent novel is The Flowers (2008). Prior to that he edited Hecho en Tejas: An Anthology of Texas Mexican Literature (2006). Gilb is a tenured professor in the Creative Writing Program at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas.

11:47AM Mon. May 11, 2009, Belinda Acosta Read More | Comment »

Celebrating the Stepmom at BookPeople
Mother's Day isn't till Sunday, but BookPeople is setting aside some time, and some love, for the stepmoms tonight with a double book party feature three Austin authors. The Package Deal: My (Not-So) Glamorous Transition From Single Gal to Instant Mom (Three Rivers Press, $15) is a funny, revealing memoir by transplanted Austinite Izzy Rose, and No One's the Bitch: A Ten-Step Plan for the Mother and Stepmother Relationship (GPP Life, $16.95) is a plainspoken, helpful, and rather hip how-to book written by Jennifer Newcomb Marine (the mom) and Carol Marine (the stepmom). Reading and signing takes place tonight (5/8) at 7pm at BookPeople (603 N. Lamar). Actress Laura Lane (The Nanny, Vagina Monologues) will be hosting a post-reading discussion in which moms and stepmoms can share stories. Forget tea and sympathy – cocktails, cupcakes (from Hey Cupcake!), and commiseration are way tastier.

12:41PM Fri. May 8, 2009, Kimberley Jones Read More | Comment »

Texas legend Edwin "Bud" Shrake loses battle with cancer
Texas writer Edwin "Bud" Shrake passed away this morning at an Austin-area hospital, reports The Dallas Morning News. He was 77. Shrake started out as a sports writer in his native Fort Worth and eventually become a staff writer at Sports Illustrated. His 1992 golf bible, Harvey Penick's Little Red Book, was a huge bestseller, and his 1972 novel, Strange Peaches, is considered to be a modern classic. He was also a Texas Monthly contributor, screenwriter of Willie Nelson-starrer Songwriter, the longtime companion of the late Gov. Ann Richards, a card-carrying Mad Dog, and a much beloved fixture around these parts. The Chronicle last spoke with Shrake last April on the occasion of publication of his anthology, Land of the Permanent Wave: An Edwin "Bud" Shrake Reader (UT Press).

11:35AM Fri. May 8, 2009, Kimberley Jones Read More | Comment »

New in Graphic Novels
This week's print issue features reviews of four new graphic novels, which was really only the tip of the iceberg. See below for more reviews of new titles. – Ed. Jeffrey Brown's Funny Misshapen Body (Touchstone, 308pp., $16) isn't a graphic novel so much as a collection of graphic shorts based on a single topic. The topic is "What It's Like To Be Jeffrey Brown," a much more entertaining and (at times) harrowing topic than you might expect. Well, unless you've read Brown's previous autobiographical works – Clumsy, Unlikely, Every Girl is the End of the World for Me, and others – because then you'd know this funny and brave and not untroubled man holds little in reserve, baring his soul, unveiling his heartbreaks (and other, more squickily physical maladies) for the world to see. This is usually presented in a succession of cartoony-yet-effective panels – a rarely wavering six squares to a page – and rendered with (the author informs us in a Q&A afterword) a black Uni-ball Micro Deluxe. Funny Misshapen Body focuses on Brown's progression as a cartoonist, his journey from childhood, through public school, to art school and beyond, while sparing no details about his would-be romances, drinking and drugging, and the pains and indignities of having Crohn's disease. Reading this book is like discovering the cartoon journal of that one smart but kind of weird kid in junior high who was always doodling in the back row of whatever classes you had with him. Surprise: Circumstances aside, he's not so very unlike yourself; but he's way more talented with a pen.

7:31AM Thu. May 7, 2009, Wayne Alan Brenner Read More | Comment »

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HRC Opens the Doors on De Niro
The Harry Ransom Center is perhaps best known for its insanely impressive literary holdings (Gutenberg Bible, anyone?), but it also has an ever-growing trove of movie-related treasures, too. Hot on the heels of its acquisition of Detour actress Ann Savage's collection comes news that the HRC's Robert De Niro archive is now open to researchers and the public.

2:44PM Tue. Apr. 28, 2009, Kimberley Jones Read More | Comment »

Merwin, Brands Get Pulitzer Nods
We spent last week on a lovely stay-cay, basically plugging our fingers in our ears for a full 7 days, which means we missed the big news that poet W.S. Merwin won the Pulitzer Prize for his book The Shadow of Sirius (Copper Canyon Press). The announcement came last Monday, just a couple of days after Merwin wowed audiences first at a reading presented by UT's Michener Center for Writers, then at the annual Poetry at Round Top Festival in Round Top, Texas. Round Top director Jack Brannon (who was recently featured in our AIPF preview) passed along word, as well as a couple shots of the venerable poet. Congrats also go to local author H.W. Brands, whose terrific book Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Doubleday) was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer for Biography or Autobiography (he was previously nominated for Ben Franklin bio The First American). Brands is shockingly prolific, so we've no doubt he'll get another crack at the gold.

3:19PM Mon. Apr. 27, 2009, Kimberley Jones Read More | Comment »

Winning Outside the Box
Joe O'Connell, the Chronicle's film-industry columnist, is a man so often wrapped in old-school celluloid or awash in hi-def pixels by way of making a living, you'd think he had fuck-all time for anything else. He wouldn't be the man to win an award for crafting an excellent prose novel, for instance. Except that he would. He's the winner of the 2009 North Texas Book Festival Book Award in adult fiction, awarded on April 17, up there in Denton. His novel-in-stories, Evacuation Plan, published by Austin-based Dalton Publishing, reveals a segmented narrative of the terminally ill, the patients’ families, and those who care for the dying. His book's an excellent, thought-provoking diversion from our own inevitable plummet toward the grave, and we highly recommend it to you, the living.

3:42PM Tue. Apr. 21, 2009, Wayne Alan Brenner Read More | Comment »

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