Daily Arts
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 »

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 »

'The Blind Side' Follows the Life of a Top NFL Prospect
“A lot of teams didn't bring it up [his past]. They just told me that they knew about it. They just told me they just wanted to talk football. It's all about playing football and just becoming an NFL player.” – On Michael Oher, posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert, February 20, 2009 Michael Oher is a first-round NFL draft prospect from Mississippi who could play left or right tackle depending on the team he is drafted by. You might recognize his name from The Blind Side, a book about his life by Michael Lewis. The book, which partially chronicles Oher's impoverished upbringing and educational challenges (he has several learning disabilities), has recently been optioned by Hollywood to be adapted into a movie. Last month Oher had an extensive meeting with the Chicago Bears, who are looking to replace right tackle John Tait. However, right tackle is not Oher’s natural position, and this was all before the Bears traded for quarterback Jay Cutler.

5:30PM Mon. Apr. 20, 2009, Timothy Braun Read More | Comment »

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Arigatou Gozaimasu, Mr. Sakai
In 1982, a young artist from Hawaii named Stan Sakai sketched a rabbit with a samurai sword and his ears pulled up into a top knot. That sketch turned into the critically-lauded Usagi Yojimbo, the epic comic book tale of a fantastical medieval Japan, now entering its 25th year in print. Its 23rd collected edition, Bridge of Tears, will be published in July, and last week Sakai was nominated for the 2009 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award for best ongoing series.

2:37PM Wed. Apr. 15, 2009, Richard Whittaker Read More | Comment »

Local Actor Lou Perryman Murdered
Sad news for fans of Austin film and stage: The body of local actor Lou Perryman was discovered in his home on Thursday by Austin police, working off of information provided by a man who is now being held in custody. According to News 8 Austin, 36-year-old Seth Christopher Tatum turned himself in Thursday morning, confessing to attacking Perryman and also stealing his car: "He basically made the statement that, 'By the way, that's a stolen car, and I'm pretty sure I killed the owner of the car,'" Sgt. Joseph Chacon said. "We found out the owner of the car, went to address on a 'check welfare' call. That's where we found Mr. Perryman." Perryman is perhaps best known for his work with Eagle Pennell in the films The Whole Shootin' Match (1978) and Last Night at the Alamo (1983), although he continued to work steadily in TV and film. He was also a member of the Austin theatre company Big State Productions and took part in their now-legendary production In the West. More details as they come in. And here's Perryman talking to the Chronicle in 2007 with his Shootin' Match costar Sonny Carl Davis on the occasion of the film's DVD release by Watchmaker Films.

4:50PM Fri. Apr. 3, 2009, Kimberley Jones Read More | Comment »

Legends of Texas Letters Reflect on 'The Gay Place'
On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the publication of Billy Lee Brammer's The Gay Place, the Chronicle's own Michael Ventura wrote this: "It is still the finest novel written by a Texan, and with Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men it gracefully holds its place as one of the two great political novels in American literature." And on the occasion of what would have been the 80th birthday of Brammer, who died in 1978, ACC's annual Carnival ah! program will feature a panel called Austin in the '50s: The Political and Literary Landscapes of Billy Lee Brammer. The panel kicks off with the premiere screening of "The Flea Circus," a short film based on an excerpt from The Gay Place, directed and produced by his daughters Shelby and Sidney Brammer. Next up is a panel discussion, and if you know the first thing about Texas letters, you know the lineup is an impressive one: Longtime Texas Monthly columnist (and one of Brammer's Mad Dog pals) Gary Cartwright; Brammer's first wife, Nadine Eckhardt, whose memoir Duchess of Palms was just published by UT Press; legendary curmudgeon Don Graham, who's perhaps the leading authority on Texas literature; Kaye Northcott, former editor of The Texas Observer; Texas Monthly senior editor Jan Reid (The Bullet Meant for Me); and former state legislator A.R. "Babe" Schwartz, who helped lead the Killer Bees in its Senate quorum-busting move in 1979. The Chron's Film News columnist Joe O'Connell will moderate. The event is free and open to the public. It takes place this Friday, April 3, at 5pm on the Mainstage Theatre, 2nd floor of the Rio Grande Campus of Austin Community College (1212 Rio Grande). Refreshments and birthday cake in the lobby post-panel.

11:39AM Tue. Mar. 31, 2009, Kimberley Jones Read More | Comment »

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