Saturday, February 27, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
A Book Hunter's Journal provides a review of VALLEYSONG: An Anthology Echoing the Rhythm and Cadence of Life in the Rio Grande Valley by the Texas Rio Writers. The review begins with a colorful title:
Of Pollitos, Life, Swimming Holes & H.E.B.: The Echos of the Rio Grande Valley
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Jerry Bywaters, Lone Star Printmaker: A Study of His Print Notebook, with a Catalogue of His Prints and a Checklist of His Illustrations and Ephemeral Works. By Ellen Buie Niewyk, Foreword by Ron Tyler, With personal reminiscences by Mary Vernon and Frances Bearden.
: Southern Methodist University Press, dist by TAMU Consortium, 2007. 12x9. 208 pp. 5 color, 34 b&w reproductions. 22 b&w photos. 111 illus. Bib. Index. ISBN 978-0-87074-519-5, cloth $35.00 http://www.tamu.edu/upress/ Dallas
The collaborative team for this remarkable retrospective survey of Jerry Bywaters' work includes Ellen Niewyk, curator of the Bywaters Special Collections housed in the Hamon Arts Library at SMU, Ron Tyler, director of Fort Worth's Amon Carter Museum of Art, Mary Vernon, SMU art teacher, and Frances Bearden, Bywaters's secretary at the Dallas Museum of Art.
Most artists do not combine the tasks of original artwork and the subsequent printing of copies, but Bywaters did just that. Most artist's quixotic lives resist their self-documentation. For over 10 years, 1935-1948 Bywaters kept a journal of his progress and techniques, and Niewyk deciphers that work to further illuminate his art, printmaking, art criticism via the
Bywaters (1906-1989) was born to a
Printmaking seriously engaged his life in lithographic printmaking after a visit of Thomas Hart Benton as Bywaters helped organize the Dallas Print and Drawing Collectors Society in 1935 and the circuit of Lone Star Printmakers in 1938. By Mutual adoption Bywaters fit right into
The book's photos are engrossing. You see his printing press and stones, tools, facsimiles of the journal, plus a casual photo of him outside at a gas station in the
Gargantua, the Lomax Victorian home in its shambled condition, is dated 1935 evokes a feeling of Halloween grotesque. Old Clown (1936) immediately projects the hard life of a Carnie. Mexican Mother (1936) and Mexican Lily Vendor draw heavily from Rivera. The Surgeons (1940) is executed in sharp black and white planes. On the Ranch (1941) is about as Daliesque as a Southwestern scene can be.
The back section on "Ephemeral Works" demonstrates Bywaters' skilled book imagery. He illustrated the first book of the SMU Press, Geiser's Naturalists of the Frontier (1937). Private printings included Dobie's Juan Oso Christmas card. The once very vigorous Tardy Publishing concern used him often as in Ehrenberg's With Milam and Fannin. Of course Stanley Marcus sought him for the Book Club of Texas as in Dobie's Tales of the Mustang, and again under the Somesuch imprint with Frontier Tales of the White Mustang. SMU's Southwest Review thirstily drew from the Bywaters well, even for their letterhead! But his work was sought out by outlanders; the Saturday Review of Literature's May 16, 1942 used him for their cover of the special issue on "The Southwest: Inventory and Sampling. My favorite? Maybe the enigmatic portrait of John Lomax.
If your library is lucky enough to have Bywaters' 12 from
Friday, February 12, 2010
Not since Peña's Diary and Kilgore's How Did Davy Die has such an interesting and revealing volume come forth for the passionate friends and foes on the perennial Crockett. The authors scoured sources to find Crockett's writings while a U.S. Congressman from
The recent painting of Crockett merely as a weak captive of his public persona has gained the status of a songster's refrain. But here you'll find David Crockett as a truly brave individual who was committed to upholding his constituents' rights (including native American) by vigorous efforts despite the threats to is political life. His physical life he would expend in the similar cause in the
Crockett began his public career as a justice of the peace and as a Jacksonian supporter as any reasonable fellow ought do in Tennessee, but when Mr. Crockett went to Washington, the President's denial of land rights and odd inveigling over the Bank of American turned Crockett into a outright opponent – a task requiring more courage than "fighting a bear when he was only three." That strident and articulate stance eventually met the Jacksonian immoveable object, and he lost his Congressional seat, and then he came to
Boylston and Wiener volume is half interpretive narrative (heavily footnoted) and half transcriptions of Crockett's and others' writings mined from sources across the nation. The latter is a treasure trove of often annotated primary source reading, much previously unpublished. Letters, requests for newspaper articles, Congressional material, circulars, speeches, etc. number to well over a hundred. There are calm reasonings, vitriolic accusations, personal concerns, a bit of parody, and other diverse forms. He had a national stage and genuine ability to switch from a backwoodsman profile to careful manager of news releases to demonstrate his sophistication.If you think you know David Crockett, get the volume, and read aloud his own words. - WH
Amigoland by Oscar Casares is reviewed by Virginia Alanis in Somos en escrito under the title "Rebel With a Cause." The review begins:
"Amigoland is the debut novel of Oscar Casares. It opens with a-day-in-the-life of a recent arrival in a nursing home after suffering a minor heart attack. Ninety-one-year-old Fidencio Rosales, a retired mail carrier, wants to escape from the nursing home and live anywhere but there. But his daughter/guardian will not agree to take him home to live with her, nor will she let him live alone.
The nursing home called Amigoland is replete with rules and regulations against which the protagonist is on the verge of rebelling. Set in contemporary Brownsville .... " Read more at
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Novelist and polemicist Ramos y Sanchez, Cuban-born and a founding partner of BRC Marketing ad agency established in 1992, adds a volume of alternative history near the line of Harry Turtledove's treatment of the American Civil War or an alternative future. His public relations skills are skillfully employed here. The book is sectioned into two parts, the first being "The Rio Grande Incident," but it quickly shifts away from Texas and the greater part of the three-year plot continues in Los Angeles, California and elsewhere long before the second part begins as "The Quarantine and Relocation Act."
The first novel that comes to this reader's mind is Imperium in Imperio by Sutton Griggs published in 1899 wherein African Texans successfully establish a large chunk of
Beyond that, Ramos' characters, though still intended as issue bearers, are more believable than those of Griggs and Leiber. Ramos begins this work of Hispanic suppression and self-assertion by placing the volatile spark in
As the plot shifts to LA, the principal character Manolo Suarez,has a wife Rosa and children who serve to deepen his domestic qualities and offer moderation. Manolo is carefully lured into La Defensa del Pueblo organization by the rich, attractive, Uruguay-born Jo Herrera whose strident feminine character adds a sharper texture as she slides Mano into accepting violence as a necessary tactic.
Barrio Latinos respond with self-defense groups and rioting and the tit-for-tat violence scatters across the
Ramos' PR skills are asserted. On one occasion he uses a loud jackhammer as a necessary "device" to justify the characters almost screaming a conversation. He also deftly uses a fictional author to insert the old mythology of Spanish and Mexican control and ownership of the Southwest (much as it was a myth that the
In realism, Manolo confronts the plain task of keeping his job and his integrity as he transforms from patriotic American to protector of his newly rediscovered pueblo. And there's a critical choice. Is his family safer with him or in a "Relocation Camp" in
To no surprise, TV, radio, newspapers, the blog jocks, and other media fan the flames. The confrontation erupts into violence in
Despite the necessary bi-polar racism and sexism, readers will be pulled along with the characters' challenges and well dialogued lines. El Nuevo Alamo and
"This book contains fifty interviews with "Texas" writers, including one "interview" with a dead writer, the pulp hero Robert E. Howard (author of the Conan books, etc.). It's actually Howard's biographer whu's interviewed, which is odd and conveys a significance that's unwarranted. The book is also a bit Austin-centric, as twenty of the authors I ive in the capital city.
There are many odd things about this book. One of the oddest is that the term "Texas writer" is newr meaningfully defined."
"An Alabaman by birth, James Ward Lee is well positioned to understand a basic fallacy about Texas's image as a "western" state. Despite popular notions of cowboys, cactus, and wideopen spaces, Lee reminds us that Texas was essentially "southern" for much of its history. Up until the 1950s, cotton far exceeded cattle as a measure of the Texas economy. The literary arts followed in those economic footsteps. While "western" writers such as Larry McMurtry and J. Frank Dobie are now seen as emblematic of the state, Lee argues that "the literary heart and soul of Texas used to be located [in the cotton belt] east of the Brazos.""
"Writers who followed Brammer include Dan Jenkins, well-known sportswriter and author of comic novels such asSemi-Tough (1972); Edwin "Bud" Shrake, like Jenkins a regular at Sports Illustrated for many years as well as a novelist; Gary Cartwright, sportswriter and still a contributor to Texas Monthly; Larry L. King, best known for his popular play The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas; and Peter Gent, author of the novel North Dallas Forty (1973)." Check out their crimes, demeanors, and misdemeanors at:
"Emilio Zamora will receive the Coral Horton Tullis Memorial Prize for 2009 on March 5 from the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA) during its 2010 meeting in Dallas.
The award for "the best book on Texas" recognizes Zamora's publication, Claiming Rights and Righting Wrongs in Texas; Mexican Workers and Job Politics during World War II (Texas A&M University Press, 2009). It is the first book-length study that joins diplomatic, Mexican American, and Texas history to examine home-front experiences in the United States." Read more at
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Anne Sloan has done a wonderful job taking this turn-of-the-century independent town on the edge of
The contents proceeds as: Community, Schools, Churches, Homes, Businesses, People and Clubs, Diversions, and Around Town. The town was started by O.M. Carter and D.D. Cooley, father of famed
All sorts of trades and stores and offices sprinkled through the neighborhood. Many backyards had chickens, cows, and fruit trees. Many backyards had chickens, cows, and fruit trees.
One of the most interesting photos is of young Elma Pielop on
Friday, February 5, 2010
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
She's pregnant as the book opens, but you wouldn't know it. Jack Woodville London embarks successfully on his projected trilogy exploring some delicate domestic affairs. He weaves narrative with correspondence with news flashes - revealing the difficult times of Virginia, the young woman who finds herself with child and unmarried amidst World War II in a small
The emotional action in the novel builds through a series of deceptions. Obviously the pretend marriage is there.
As a work, poignant without the syrup, patriotic yet glancing under the table, the novel is less a romance, more historical and social commentary. If you've been advantaged to have lived in a small town, you'll the little hallmarks, the kindnesses, the grudges, and the lack of a good place to hide your private French letters.
French Letters was a finalist for 2 awards: Best Historical Fiction of the Year, By The Military Writer's Society of America & The William C. Morris Award, for Best Southern Fiction in 2009.
A blog provides some occasional background on the author and the volume at http://frenchlettersthenovel.blogspot.com/
A video interview of author
Also check Danielle Hartman's Youtube Channel for