Daily Arts
Accolades for Austin Authors
Good news for two Austin-based authors just showed up in our in box. The first concerns Darryl Wimberley, author of the popular Barrett Raines mystery series and the just-released Kaleidoscope; his 2007 novel The King of Colored Town has been awarded the first-ever Willie Morris Prize for Southern Fiction. The honor includes a cash prize and a roundtrip ticket to the awards ceremony at New York's Mercantile Library for Fiction on Oct. 22. In the meantime, you can go congratulate him yourself when he reads at BookPeople on Saturday, Sept. 13, at 3pm. The Chronicle's Film News columnist, Joe O'Connell, received a spot of good news himself over the weekend – he's one of six finalists for the Violet Crown Book Award in Fiction for his novel Evacuation Plan, the only Austin author to make the shortlist. The Violet Crown award is given by the Writers League of Texas, the largest regional writing group in Texas and the second largest in the nation. The winners will be announced on Nov. 1 at this year's Texas Book Festival.

12:18PM Wed. Sep. 10, 2008, Kimberley Jones Read More | Comment »

Texas Book Festival Announces Lineup
The biggest books party of the year – the Texas Book Festival – just announced its lineup for this year's festival, which means it's time to get cracking on getting acquainted with the authors. There aren't any superstars or political heavyweights this year – according to the fest's literary director Clay Smith, election years are always thin on big-gun political publications – but there are plenty of authors in the lineup that we're excited about, like Richard Price (Lush Life, The Wire), EW editor Mark Harris (Pictures at a Revolution), the Paris Review's Phillip Gourevitch, and Marion Winik, who, in my book, was one of last year's most entertaining panelists. Not on the lineup? Author Curtis Sittenfeld, who last week released (the somewhat uneven but still quite interesting) American Wife, a novel that was openly inspired by the life of Laura Bush. You know, the Laura Bush who founded the Texas Book Festival and continues to serve as Honorary Chairman. Check out the lineup here, and mark your calendar – the festival runs Nov. 1-2.

11:27AM Mon. Sep. 8, 2008, Kimberley Jones Read More | Comment »

Mommy Talk
“We women are vulnerable. We get lonely and weak in our lives and we get careless. But we have to keep our guard up. Now that I'm older, I definitely keep my guard up.” – Lavelle White About ten years ago, I wrote about women in music and their choices regarding having children. It was a phenomenally profound experience for me, because the subject was so deeply felt by those with whom I spoke. I found the quote above from Lavelle White in that story and found a lot of comfort in it lately. I also thought about that story when I picked up Austinite Mary K. Moore’s The Unexpected When You’re Expecting: Clear, Comprehensive Month-By-Month Dread, advertised as “The pregnancy guide that has terrified millions.” The book is a parody, of course, at least that’s what it says in bright pink ribbon across the back. Moore is hosting a book signing and discussion at By George (524 N. Lamar), 6pm Thursday, for her new arrival.

12:56PM Tue. Sep. 2, 2008, Margaret Moser Read More | Comment »

APL's Book Club Reboot
You don't need to tell us that talking about books is a hip way to pass the time, but I guess some people still need convincing. To that end, forward-thinking librarians Blair Parsons and Bonnie Brzozowski are rebooting the Austin Public Library's Downtown Book Clubs with new names, new topics, and new non-library homes. The reading material's gotten sexier – graphic novels and contemporary fiction – and now you can sip coffee while you talk with your fellow bibliophile. For now, the new book clubs will set up shop at Halcyon and Little City, respectively, but as APL's Marketing Program Manager Patricia Fraga enthused in a recent e-mail, the soon-to-break-ground downtown central library will have its own coffeehouse/cafe space – "coming soon 2013-2014!!" That should give us just enough time to find the right opening-day outfit...

Schedules for both book clubs after the jump:

1:05PM Wed. Aug. 27, 2008, Kimberley Jones Read More | Comment »

Kookoo Stew
Monofonus Press' latest double release is the perfect end-of-summer punch. Clear Violet, by local author Karen Davidson, is the all-too-Austin tale of a vegetarian restaurant and all the amulet-clutching, chakra-aligning, aura-reading yahoos it attracts. Davidson reads excerpts Saturday at Cafe Mundi, 7pm. The night before at the Compound, you can catch the other half. Local quartet Pillow Queens releases Kookoolegit, a collection of equally absurd tales set to big, fuzzy, stompy hooks. Shapes Have Fangs and Human Milk jump in as well. Check out the excellent video for "Real Cool Head" below for a little taste.

4:03PM Tue. Aug. 26, 2008, Audra Schroeder Read More | Comment »

A Tale of Terror From the Top of the World
When I was in college I had a good friend who was a very skilled rock climber. He made it look so simple -- so simple and effortless that when he asked me if I'd like to learn how to climb I didn't hesitate to sign on. So we went to a popular climbing spot not far from Washington, D.C., for my maiden -- and as it happened, only -- voyage up a big-ass rock. I'd been hiking and trail running for quite some time and thought (silly me) that this whole rock climbing would be a piece of cake. I was way wrong. I enjoyed the climb – scrambling to the top of the rock was no problem. But fixed to the rope at the "summit," I froze. I had to let go, my friend said, and repel down. Sounds simple, but I was completely petrified. I had to release whatever control I thought I had up to that point. My palms were sweaty. I knew I was in good, capable hands, but I couldn't shake my fear. I finally made it down, but it was the last time I took to the rocks. The fear that gripped me some 15 years ago seized me again while reading High Crimes, a true story of terror atop the world's highest peak, Mt. Everest. In his new book (published in February by Hyperion; $24.95), Pulitzer-winning journalist Michael Kodas writes about the ill-fated expedition in 2004 of Connecticut climbers (Kodas was among them) that paralleled the deadly journey of another American climber, Nils Antezana, a Bolivian-born doctor. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that Kodas is also a friend of mine.)

9:09AM Tue. Aug. 26, 2008, Jordan Smith Read More | Comment »

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Naughty, Yet Nice
The exact date at which I became a pearls-only kind of gal is arguable, but Jennifer Perkins’ naughty guide to jewelry The Naughty Secretary Club: The Working Girl’s Guide to Handmade Jewelry, North Light Books, 144 pp., $16.99 – makes one thing perfectly clear: I’m not nearly as fun as I used to be. Not to worry, though; Perkins’ kitschy craft book is an excellent antidote to boring accessory habits. The introduction openly admits that if “tackaliscious” isn’t your style, this may not be the book for you. Which has some truth to it, as I would hate to see some of its designs on anyone older than the age of 8. More important, though, is her claim that even if your style isn’t quite as loud as hers, you can use the projects in her book for inspiration and the techniques as groundwork for your own cutesy inventions. A founding member of the Austin Craft Mafia, Perkins includes a few heavy-duty projects in Naughty Secretary Club that are clearly for the seasoned crafter, but the book covers projects for skill levels from “first day on the job” to “you deserve a raise” to “running the show.” In addition to office-themed skill levels, the book includes memos with info ranging from office statistics (42% of people surveyed have had an office romance) to office-supply-based beauty tips (use a Sharpie and Wite-Out to make “domino nails”).

2:30PM Fri. Aug. 22, 2008, Sarah Jean Billeiter Read More | Comment »

"Naughty" Jennifer Perkins Booksigning
Jennifer Perkins, host of Craft Lab and Stylelicious on the DIY network has a new book out. The Naughty Secretary Club: The Working Girl's Guide to Handmade Jewelry (Northlight Books) came out in July, but she's having her very own coming out party for the splashy new book Aug. 30 at Craft-o-Rama.

Craftsters will recognize Jennifer as a member of the Austin Craft Mafia, a group of local craft mavens who sew, hot glue, knit, and crochet fun and funky arts and crafts for the modern guy and gal. If you're a crafter and you don't know Craft-o-Rama, well, what have you been waiting for? The bright and airy shop is designed for the inner seamstress in you, but have just enough yarn and embroidery threads to keep fiber fanatics happy too. Whether it's a book release party or an occasional swap meet, Hayley Pannone (and mommy in waiting) does a swell job of making the event festive and full of casual, crafty fun.

12:49PM Fri. Aug. 22, 2008, Belinda Acosta Read More | Comment »

After ArmadilloCon
ArmadilloCon is just like any other literary convention: It just happens to be about science fiction, fantasy and interstitial literature. The three-day convention (see our advance coverage here) wrapped up Sunday, and the emphasis was often on the practical side of writing and getting published. It's events like this that firmly debunk the trite and tedious stereotype that science-fiction enthusiasts are a virginal male hive-mind entity that has never done anything outside of their parents' cellar. Take the all-female fantasy-romance panel or the fact that over half the writers on the Forever Wars panel about military science fiction were actually former service personel (including Dave Duggins, guest of honor Joe Haldeman and local author Elizabeth Moon) as proof of that. The H.P. Lovecraft discussion on Saturday night kind of degenerated into a moderator's worst nightmare, where the audience knew more than the panelees (although, to be fair, there were several published Lovecraft essayists in the crowd.) But a recurrent theme was the interplay between genre literature and other media, most especially film. The quick synopsis? Big money, big money, no whammy.

2:39PM Tue. Aug. 19, 2008, Richard Whittaker Read More | Comment »

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