The Bookshelf, The Parlor, The Young Texas Reader, and the Monthly

The Texas Bookshelf is different from the The Texas Parlor, . The Texas Parlor carries "general" bookish information and non-book information and even different Texana news and notes of use to the bibliographically challenged and other nosey folks intersted in historical, literary, and cultural observations. Will's Texana Monthly may carry material from either blog, but extends itself beyond those, especially for longer compilations or treatments. The Monthly, the Bookshelf and the Parlor are all companions. So, is the Young Texas Reader which specialized on books and such things for the youngest to the teenagers.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Who is Mother Neff and Why is She a State Park? by Allan C. Kimball

Kameron Searle on his Texas History Page reviews Who is Mother Neff and Why is She a State Park? by Allan C. Kimball.  It begins
"In this book, Allan C. Kimball will tell you who Mother Neff was and how a Texas state park came to be named after her. I will tell you what this book with the unusual title is all about. It is an excellent guide to all the Texas State Parks. Kimball has researched the history for the source of the name of each of the Texas State Parks and consolidated all of them into this handy 266 page paperback book."

Larry McMurtry & Literary Life Interview - NPR

'Literary Life: A Second Memoir'    Larry McMurtry is interviewed for National Public Radio for almost 8 minutes about his installment of his Literary Life.  The interview is available in print and audio.  It begins:
"Since the very start, Larry McMurtry's writing career has been staged — almost simultaneously — in two oddly paired worlds: his hometown of Archer, Texas, and Hollywood. He published his first novel, Horseman, Pass By, in 1961. The rights to that book were optioned for the movie that would become Hud, starring Paul Newman, before the book was published. "Almost before the last period [was] put on the book," according to McMurtry."
Listen in or read more at:

Twisting in the Wind: Springtown Hangings - Jean Bennett

Crystal Brown's Weatherford Democrat book review entitled "Area hangings focus of new book" reveals that they hang 'em in Weatherford and Parker County according to Jean Bennett, the book's author.  The review begins:
Jean Bennett, the genealogy librarian for the Weatherford Public Library, has recently published a book highlighting hangings in and around Parker County dating back to the mid 1800s.
The book, Twisting in the Wind: Springtown Hangings of the Hill Women and Other North Texas Hangings, features 15 stories of hangings in Parker County and surrounding areas.
"When I started working here I had all these people coming in and asking about the Hill Hangings," Bennett said. "I didn't know anything about the Hill Hangings. They kept asking, so I thought I'd better find out.""

Not reading more is a hanging offense pardner:

Ms. Bennett was unavailable at press time to comment on whether the book was published to underscore the possible severe penalties for overdue books at the Library where is book can be purchased.  Communications of a proper nature can be established through


Growing Good Things to Eat - Pamela Walker

    KIM PIERCE, Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News, sprouts a book review entitled "Author Profiles Texas' Organic Farmers," and begins

"With the surge of interest in organic and locally produced food, Pamela Walker's Growing Good Things to Eat in Texas (TAMU Press, $23) couldn't be timelier. She profiles 11 organic producers across the state, including two from North Texas, who take their commitment to food and sustainability seriously. They don't just talk about it; they live it.".

 Remember, you don't have to commit to a healthy lifestyle just because you're eating healthy; it tastes better too!

Read more of Pierce's review at

Your friendly Texas Department of Agriculture has a listing of 60 cities and town with farmers markets at

Find another list at the Texas Farmers Market Association

And another at the Texas Farmers Market Directory


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Texas Observer - Back issues of Summer and Winter Books Issues online

The Texas Observer, Texas' own guardian of the left bank of the Colorado River. has a book blog "Texas Bound" which occasionally addresses a Texas volume (they prefer the broader view of the nation).   No posting has been made in "Texas Bound" since last October.  But now of note is the TO's online availability of the Summer and Winter Books issues.  The archives go back for ten years.  On the Texas Bound blog's page in the upper right are clicks to those back issues.  For the illiterate with no interest in books, but just their causes of the day, under TO's homepage is the complete list of issues, back for the same ten years.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Texas Cookbook Reviews

Texana - Texas Books and News
Texas Cooking offers a couple of dozen book reviews at

Steven Davis & Frank Dobie book - Interview by Steve Bennett

dobie book.jpgIn The Fine Print Steve Bennett interviews Steven Davis on his new book J. Frank Dobie: A Liberated Mind.  It begins:
"There were two J. Frank Dobies: the bigoted, boorish creator of the "everything-is-bigger-in-Texas" myth, and the man who later re-examined his own prejudices and embraced a form of spiritual humanism.
Steven L. Davis follows the trail of the iconic Texas folklorist in an illuminating new biography "J. Frank Dobie: A Liberated Mind."
Will Davis' book spark a Dobie renaissance? "I think we were long overdue for a major reassessment of Dobie," says Davis, author of "Texas Literary Outlaws." "None of us had a clear vision of who he really was."  Read the interview at

Dave Oliphant & Harbingers - Interview by Ed Conroy

The Fine Print by Steve Bennett brings you the interview:
"Here's the full text of Ed Conroy's interview with Texas poet, professor and publisher Dave Oliphant, whose new book is "Harbingers of Books to Come," a must "for anyone seeking to understand the development of literature and jazz in Texas during the postwar era."   See a photo of Dave and his wife and inspiration Maria and read more at
Humanities Texas offers a biographial sketch of Oliphant (after his retirement from 30 years from UT) in its Speakers' Bureau

Friday, December 18, 2009

New West Selections

    The New West collects it favorite books for 2009 with some Texana in "Other States" section
Antonya Nelson short stories collected in Nothing Right (Bloomsbury USA)

Lovin' That Lone Star Flag - E. Joe Deering

Maggie Galehouse, book editor at the Houston Chronicle, begins her review thusly:

Looking at Texas' flag through a unique lens    Nov. 27, 2009, 1:41PM

LOVIN' THAT LONE STAR FLAG Review by Maggie Galehouse

Book By E. Joe Deering.

Texas A&M University Press, 120 pp., $29.95.

"For five years, E. Joe Deering made it his business to photograph the Lone Star flag — anywhere he found it.

Between 2002 and 2007, the former Houston Chronicle photographer captured images of the iconic Texas state flag on barns, brick walls, police cars, homes, mailboxes, belt buckles, surfboards, cowboy boots, almost anywhere you can imagine."


Literary Life: A Second Memoir - Larry McMurtry

The New York Times reviews McMurtry's literary biography which augments his earlier literary biograpy Books: A Memoir.  The review begins
Bookish Cowboy Heads Off to the Corral
By DWIGHT GARNER   Published: December 10, 2009
"Larry McMurtry has won a Pulitzer Prize, for his novel "Lonesome Dove," published in 1985. His criticism appears regularly in The New York Review of Books, this country's leading journal of mandarin literary opinion. He won an Academy Award for writing, with Diana Ossana, the screenplay for the film "Brokeback Mountain." For two years in the early 1990s he was the American president of PEN, the august literary and human-rights organization. 
Yet Mr. McMurtry, who is 73 and has written some 40 books of fiction, essays and memoir, nonetheless feels like a man who gets no — or at least not much — respect."
See comments on the earlier volume at

Friday, December 11, 2009

Elmer Kelton, Sandhills Boy: The Winding Trail lof a Texas Writer - Elmer Kelton

Sandhills Boy: The Winding Trail of a Texas Writer     Elmer Kelton, Sandhills Boy:  The Winding Trail of a Texas Writer.  By Elmer Kelton..  NY:  Macmillan / Forge Books / Tom Doherty, 2007. Handback, sand and brown pictorial jacket, olive green cloth, b & w photos. ISBN: 978-0-7653-1521-2, ISBN10: 0-7653-1521-1, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches, 256 pages. $23.95.


Elmer Kelton, (1926-2009) lately of San Angelo, Texas, was a native West Texan who wrote about fifty Western novels, won a bunkhouse-load of writing awards for his work, and achieved the status of being the Greatest Western Writer of all time according to the Western Writers of America, the folks who know of such things. 

Kelton provided his memoir before his death on September 1, 2009.  Buck Kelton, his cowboy and ranch foreman father, eventually reconciled to his son's failure to become a career cowboy.  You see his son broke loose from the dusty corral and instead took to the trials and trails of Western authorship, a trade Buck skeptively considered "not working" for his pay.  Being reared on the Western plains was no easy life, but for Elmer that was his homeland, in and around Crane and Upton counties on the edge of the Chihuahuan Desert, particularly the McElroy Ranch, out around Midland way.  Later more than once he mused in the mirror, "What would Dad think?" 

Early home places were named Horse Camp, Sand Camp, and the Mayfield Place.  Young Elmer memorized the poem "Make Me a Cowboy Again for a Day" and listened to the windup Victrola with his father to "Ramona."  His mother wistfully mentioned how she had noticed a oowboy weep upon hearing "When the Works All Done This Fall."  When the author wrote of leathered faces, calloused hands, scars, and lonesome times he knew of such things.;ttWORKDONE.html

Kelton grew up, learning to read the labels on the canned goods, abetted by his mother's home-schooling. Maybe his mother was to blame for his scribbling.  He remembers she once wrote a story intended for Ranch Romances magazine.  The son took up writing before age 10 at his second-grade teacher's instruction.

He survived ranch life, studied journalism at UT, joined WW II where he met his future-wife Anni in Austria, returned home and wrote for the San Angelo Standard Times, range journals, observed oil field life, began writing short stories, and upon hearing the cautionary comments about how the new fangled media was replacing short stories added novels to his remuda. 

The volume is straight forward, poignant, with drops of dry humor.  It begins as if he were at a kitchen table sharing a cup of coffee with the reader – scattered with talk about family life and ventures, the land, the lack of rain, the mountains, cattle, and the people he knew, not a few of which were real characters.  The pace steps-up with the war, and again with the courtship of Anni, and settles down again as they take up home life on the Texas plains.  You'll not be distracted his many references to his novels; this is his life as he lived it.

Purchase a copy his memoirs; it's a good investment in good reading.  If you're not yet a Kelton reader, start with one of these:  The Time It Never Rained, The Good Old Boys, The Man Who Rode Midnight, Buffalo Wagons, The Day the Cowboys Quit, Eyes of the Hawk, Slaughter, The Far Canyon, and The Way of the Coyote.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Savage Wisdom - German

A Savage Wisdom.  By Norman German.  Thibodaux, LA:  Thunder Rain Publishing Corp., 2009, second prtg.  265 pages, paperback, ISBN 978-0-9654569-6-8, $14.00
The interview from Hel:

Professor Norman German of Southeastern Louisiana University edits fiction for the journal Louisiana Literature and has won the Deep South Writers' Contest for No Other World.


How could a young, sweet, Shreveport girl in the Depression become homeless, a cocaine addict, a prostitute, a mother, and finally a cold-blooded killer on Valentine's Day 1940? 

There is a co-dependent relationship between Texas and Louisiana, and German's novelization of the life, crimes, and legends of Toni Jo Henry (born: Annie Beatrice McQuiston), the only woman executed in Louisiana's electric chair, is on the Bookshelf because the man she murdered was a Texan.  Well, there's another connection, Toni Jo (her prostitute name) fell in love and married in 1939 Claude "Cowboy" Henry who had already murdered a guy in San Antonio.  He was subsequently captured and imprisoned in Texas, and Toni Jo wanted to get him out.  She might have robbed an Arkansas bank to get "Cowboy" out, except in the process she murdered Houston tire salesman Joseph Calloway on Valentine's Day.  She had been picked up as a hitchhiker outside Orange, but she murdered him in Lake Charles, hence a Louisiana murder.  She's hunted and captured and tried and executed in 1942.

If you care to hold hands, for a small price, with a love-starved, addict-prostitute during her murder trial, you'll be rewarded by German's coverage.  It's stark and rich in that New Orleans decadent detail style that Texans like to mention as a party gets a little rowdy.

Midian, Marshall, & Me - Davis

Book Cover    Midian, Marshall & Me.  By Jerome Davis.  edited by Dee Davis and Richard J. Davis, cover design Chelsey Tatum.  Trafford, 2008.  Paperback, 130 pages, size: 5 ½ x 8 ½ , ISBN: 9781425136543, $14.49.

If you've wondered where Martin Luther King's words "I have a dream …" came from, they came from Marshall.  Jerome, a little white boy, was best friends with Midian, a little black boy,  there who grew up to assert that you be judged by the "content of your character."

Jerome, a retired communications professional of print, radio, and TV, authors his personal memoirs of growing up in Marshall in the 1940's, 1950's, and 1960's.  Midian Johnson lived behind him on the next street.  Such close living was possible because the Davises weren't hardly rich, and as such housed next to African Marshallites.  The boys bonded in the usual Piney Woods minor mischief, church-going, music-sharing, but not Little League, schooling, and the like.  The racial bigotry was real among many in the town, but its clout rarely extended to poor little boys.  Davis' treatment of the period blends the limitations of the time with a bit of gentle avoidance - much as he was treated there.

As it turns out, both boys got good educations there (there's a whole story in that which Davis doesn't touch).  Midian was identified early as a person to know and shape by Senator Lyndon Johnson.  With the 1960 election, young, goodman Midian excelled and went to Washington and found himself advising the vice-president who shortly became the president.  A part of official Marshall in the meantime turned fire department hoses on civil rights advocates on the brick-faced town square.

Midian went on in a successful career and, decades later, recently returned home to Marshall, hoping to retire, but finding himself president of Marshall's Wiley College.

Rarely do these small, modern memoirs carry much of broad value beyond the details of a life, but Davis captures for you things that you would not expect, especially out of Marshall.  Strongly recommended.

Both Davis, now retired in Colleyville, and Johnson are recognized on Marshall's "Wall of Distinction."  For good reasons.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Reviews of Texana databases

As part of a Syracuse University Information Science Technology class assignment, various digital databases are reviewed at Some Texas content databases are considered, e.g.,
Portal to Texas History - University of North Texas Library
Texas Constitutions - University of Texas, Tarleton Law Library, Jamail Center for Legal Research
Museum of History (a virtual museum)

Journey Through Deaf Texas



The news release states in part "JOURNEY THROUGH DEAF TEXAS chronicles the history of TAD since its inception in 1886 and its historic accomplishments that have had an impact on deaf and hard of hearing Texans. The film was co-produced, directed, and edited by David H. Pierce who has worked in the television industry for 24 years.
Stephen C. Baldwin, Ph.D., past president of TAD, co-producer, writer, and researcher of the film, says that "the film is not all about politics and legislative endeavors, but it has sentimental moments about leadership, failures, triumphs, ignorance, apathy and the need to continue to work on making lives better for the Texas Deaf Community."

Friday, November 27, 2009

Texas State Travel Guide - It's free

The Travel Guide is really a grand volume to have - sites all over Texas.  Get a recent edition with a telephone call.
"For a FREE packet containing the Texas State Travel Guide, Texas Accommodations Guide, and Texas Official Travel Map, call 800-8888-TEX (839) in the US and Canada,."
Travel Guides

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Texas Quilts and Quilters - Kaylakie

Texas Quilts and Quilters:  A Lone Star Legacy.  By Marcia Kaylakie, with Janice Whittington, photography by Jim Lincoln, and foreword by Marian Ann J. Montgomery.  Lubbock:  Texas Tech University Press, 2007. Hardback with silver stamping on the spine and under dark blue cloth, and Mexican gold endpapers.  264 pages. 182 b&w and color photos, ports., 1 map, index, ISBN 0896726061, 978-0-89672-606-2, $39.95 (Grover E. Murray Studies in the American Southwest Series)
An excellent investment.  You'll find yourself touching the 11x11 inch pages to feel the fabric and stiching.  This chronological presentation begins in the 1860's  and progresses through 32 named patterns with stories pulled from the towns across Texas.
A "Cattle Brand" quilt, sure, and a "Gone With the Wind" quilt, sure, but who could have imagined that the dirt and filth of the "Oil Field" could be converted into a bright quilt design; apparently Katherine Hervey did so in Fort Worth.  Maybe the most beautiful to me is Etta Mae Nelson Back's "Yo-Yo Quilt."  The gentle warmth, the deep cream and soft colors, and 1 ¼" squares arranged in the 30 multiply-bordered squares combine to evoke a sign and stroke a young boy could have had. 
The "Rainbow Quilt" at the Gage Hotel is so striking, I'm tempted to allege they stole the one I once had, but, really, they didn't.   Allie Burkett's "Blue Lone Star Quilt" is memorable first for its blue theme, without the usual red splash, and now I notice the publishers' chose it for the jacket cover.  Good choice!  But, oh, the 2001 "Traveling Stars Quilt" also commands my attention, nothing bright, but the maroon, black, and rosy cream tied together and bordered by the concentric diamonds.
A 3 to 4 page narrative accompanies each of the quilts and once the festival of page-turning slows, you'll the reading worthwhile.

Texas Wineries - Esco

Texas WineriesTexas Wineries.  By Melinda Esco.  Fort Worth:  Texas Christian University Press, 2009.  Hardback, color photos, maps, directory, and glossary.  ISBN 9780875653969  $9.95
As a Master Gardener and occasional fermented grape drinker, Esco found herself writing a "Small Book" for TCU Press.  She lifted the topic, studied its clarity, sipped, and wrote.
We're treated with pleasant, short chapters on history, business, grape growing, wine making, and survey of many of the wineries in Texas.  From the practical view, many the most useful part is the url appended to each winery in the directory of the nearly one-hundred in the list.
We've almost all heard how Texas grapes virtually, completely almost saved the entire French wine industry during their late unpleasantness, but the book's outdoors photos of valley fields and vines come to rest grapely upon the mind with a suggestion of muscadine. Salúte to Melinda.

From Birdwomen - Erisman

From Birdwomen to Skygirls:  American Girls' Aviation Stories.  By Fred Erisman.  Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 2009.  Hardback and jacket, 261 pages, photos, facsimiles, chapter notes, endnotes, bibliography, index.  ISBN 9780875653976.
Erisman's survey demonstrates TCU Press' service to the children and young adult market beyond the topic of Texana.  The author, already having covered the same topic for boys, analyzes a three-threaded topic – girls series books about aviation, technological changes in aviation, and female roles in real life – especially the aviatrix group.  Somebody oughta write a young reader about Texas flying women - maybe begin with Bessie Coleman.
If you've read Hardy Boy books, as I did, or Nancy Drew, you already have a handle on Erisman's adventure in flying adolescent literarture.

La Junta de los Rios - a new thesis by Folsom

Readers of La Junta history may wish to consult a new thesis from UNT.
His chapters are topical

1. INTRODUCTION.......................................................................................1

2. THE INDIANS AND THE ENVIRONMENT..............................................16

3. THE CONQUISTADOR...........................................................................32

4. THE SPANISH CIVILIAN SETTLER........................................................50

5. THE MISSIONARY..................................................................................66

6. THE PRESIDIAL SOLDIER.....................................................................82

7. CONCLUSION.......................................................................................105
It should be interesting in light of Morgenthaler's two recent volumes.

La Junta de los Rios - Morgenthaler

cover art    
   La Junta de los Rios: The life, death, and resurrection of an ancient desert community in the Big Bend region of Texas.  By Jefferson Morgenthaler. Boerne, Texas:  Mockingbird Books, 2007.  183 pages, notes, bibliography, index, paperback, ISBN 978-1-932801-10-1 $18.95.
La Junta is a comprehensive history of the early period, up to the 1800's, of the region along the Texas – Mexican border where the Rio Conchos confluences with the Rio Grande.  As such in La Junta Morgenthaler provides and excellent prequel to his The River Has Never Divided Us that covers the 1800's onward.
La Junta is often overlooked in the history of early Spanish Texas, in favor of San Antonio, settlements in the Valley, and El Paso, but the Spanish used La Junta as a major gateway.  Furthermore Morgenthaler goes into convincing detail to demonstrate the intelligence and energy of the Jumano and other natives whose culture had persisted for hundreds of years.
On New Spain's northern frontier, Nueva Vizcaya it came to be called, the wasteland and scattered fertile plots around these rivers were generally protected by the mountains and harsh living conditions.  Cabeza de Vaca slipped through from the north.  Random contacts occurred until the 1580's Rodriguez and Chamuscado expedition came looking for a path to Cibola.  Espejo came only a couple of years later.  Spanish enforcers pursued Sosa up the river.  Another freebooter, Leyva y Bonilla, this way came.  Onate passed through on his way to establish his settlement in New Mexico.    Death and conflict ensued.  Missions, presidios, about ten pueblos, and trade followed. 
Morgenthaler develops the influence of Mendoza, Retana, and Sabeata.  A rebellion failed in the 1680's, and the La Salle entry shook the region.  But later the Apaches came raiding the region, and the Spanish stalled.  Until the volume's end the Apache are a dominant theme or background noise as the Spanish presence expands northward into Texas.
Morgenthaler adds more fully clothed characters to the Texas story around La Junta.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

River Has Never Divided Us - Morgenthaler

The River Has Never Divided Us: A Border History of La Junta de los Rios (Jack and Doris Smothers Series in Texas History, Life, and Culture, No. 13)The River Has Never Divided Us:  A Border History of La Junta de los Rios.  By Jefferson Morgenthaler. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2004. 355 pages, 42 photos, 8 maps, chapter notes and back notes, bibliography, index, ISBN 978-0-292-70283-7. $22.95.
"No other history of the area has approached the broad interpretation of this book as it weaves this intensive study of La Junta so closely into the international trends and events taking place in Texas, Mexico, and the United States. . . . The writing is witty, bold and enticing." - —Andres Tijerina, author of Tejano Empire: Life on the South Texas Ranchos


Down on the border, near Ojinaga and Presidio, a Mexican River, the Rio Conchos, flows down from Chihuahua and joins, above the Big Bend, with the Rio Grande and there life has persisted in a harsh environment – for hundreds of years.  Jefferson Morgenthaler, and lawyer, communications consultant, and publisher, has built upon his academic investigation to give us the story of the more recent times of the 1800's forward toward the end of the Mexican Revolution for the surrounding 20 to 30 miles.

He first draws your attention to the death of Esquivel Hernandez at the hands of U.S. Marines in 1997.  Then Morgenthaler backgrounds readers in the Chihuahua Desert, plateaus,  mountains, canyons, streams, and early native life, Cabeza de Vaca, and Spanish efforts at settlement.  Then the Americans came.

You have Doniphan's Expedition, land transfers, Ben Leaton, Jay Hayes, Lt. Whiting drawing the line, the 49ers on their way to California, and the Scalp Hunters like James Kirker.

There was smuggling, then as now, and lots of silver.  Railroads arrived and the spread of ranches and military posts increased.  Greed and murder laced with revenge.  There was Ortega's Rebellion, followed by Orozco and Huerta, and Pancho Villa, chased by Black Jack Pershing.  Smuggling revived with liquor contraband, and drugs would derive from there.

Morgenthaler uses many sources, many of which are primary, and his interesting narrative of discovery is yours for the purchase.

Waco - Ames

  Waco    Waco.  By Eric S. Ames.  Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 2009.  Paperback, many black and white photos, ISBN: 9780738571317, 128 pages, $21.99.

Young Mr. Ames has done a remarkable job of collecting the names and "assistance" of noted local and state historians for this photographic compendium.  And he was lucky that the Baylor University Library Texas Collection's Fred Gildersleeve Collection was made available to him.  The volume is divided into simple chapters: Waco Spirit, structural landmarks, scenes, recreation and play, and news headlines.

Folks probably know Waco for historic Baylor University, Dr Pepper, the suspension bridge that preceded the Brooklyn Bridge, William Brann and his internationally successful Iconoclast newspaper, and the "Crash at Crush."  But the Alico Building was one of the first Texas skyscrapers and a "red light district" are also remembered.

For a town whose existence was keenly dependent on early agricultural success, there are only a few photos of African Texans, but the Paul Quinn College is represented as well as other situations.  More could have been found.

Some remarkable shots include Gildersleeve's improvised tower from which he captured photographs, the bird's-eye-view of the Masonic Grand Lodge building, the sweeping panoramas, and the 1953 tornado images.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bulldozed: Kelo by Main - with comments by George Will

Bulldozed by Carla Main    Columnist George Will, in his Washington Post filing, explores the ghastly attempt to suppress a Texas book and to suppress critical approval on that book, and the stunning question of the state government's successful attempts to take by eminent domain your personal real estate and give it to other commercial interests.  The city of interest is Freeport, Texas.
Bulldozed: 'Kelo,' Eminent Domain and the American Lust for Land by Carla Main
Read Will's commentary at the Washington Post August 19, 2009.
A related question was on the November ballot.
Or see Carla Main's homepage
Where her site describes her book as: "Bulldozed: 'Kelo,' Eminent Domain and the American Lust for Land is a book for any American concerned about the future of property rights and the American Dream. For those interested in urban affairs and the law, Bulldozed provides an in-depth account into the way an eminent domain battle affects a family and a town.

Set in East Texas, Bulldozed tells the story of Pappy Gore. Born into poverty, he grows up to found a successful business, Western Seafood, and become a pillar of his community. But then things change in town. The city of Freeport decides to build a commercial marina on the river and moves to take Pappy's land in eminent domain. The city wants to turn the land over to Western Seafood's next-door neighbor -- a descendant of a great Texas oil family -- who will build the marina. Long-standing neighbors and friends take sides as the marina controversy brings to the fore deep-seated differences over values, justice and fair play, eventually splitting the town down the middle.

Against this backdrop, Bulldozed examines the history of eminent domain from the Revolutionary War and the drafting of the Bill of Rights by James Madison, through the behind-the-scenes intrigue that transpired in New London, Connecticut leading to the Kelo case. Bulldozed addresses the all-important question: How did we get here in America?"


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Texas Tribune - new newspaper

       The Texas Tribune is described by the Texas Community College Teachers Association:

The TCCTA description begins:  "A new approach to Texas journalism is getting cranked up, and you may want to have a look. It's the Texas Tribune, calling itself a "non-profit, nonpartisan public media organization," with promises to "promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, politics, government, and other matters of statewide concern." 
So far it looks like the effort will devote considerable energy to legislative and education issues."
Or go to the new Texas Tribune, headed by the former head of Texas Monthly, Evan Smith
Check its parts
  • Front Page
  • Topics
  • Library
  • Blogs
  • 2010
  • Calendar
  • CampusWire

    Writers include

    Julian Aguilar Brandi Grissom Reeve Hamilton Jim Henson Elise Hu Ben Philpott
    Ross Ramsey Emily Ramshaw Abby Rapoport Daron Shaw Evan Smith
    Morgan Smith Matt Stiles Brian Thevenot

    Moonlight Desperado - Hamilton

    The Seduced by History blog carries notes about Moonlight Desperado, by Jeanmarie Hamilton

    Weaving History with Shapeshifters

    The author's commentary begins: "Even shape shifter stories can revolve around historical facts.
    In my werewolf western historical, Moonlight Desperado, soon to be published by Siren-Bookstrand Publishing, the hero's original goal is inspired by Texas history.
    The inspiration for the story came from a family story that happened after the Civil War ended. Raiders passing through Texas demanded bedding to sleep on outside my great great grandmother's home. Of course the characters have been changed in my story, Moonlight Desperado."
    Read more about this erotic paranormal if you dare:
    Interview at Siren Publishing

    Roswell, Texas - Smith

    roswellIf you know what Roswell connotes, you'll enjoy this science ficiton.  A review by NM Boliek of Roswell, Texas by L.Neil Smith, Rex F May, Scott Bieser and Jen Zachis at
    The reviewer enjoyed the book but complains that there's too much history, not enough fiction, he thinks that the up-coming Cowboys & Aliens will solve that concern.

    Lone Star / No Country

    Steven Thomas compares Lone Star and No Country for Old Men

    Lit - Karr

    LitMary Karr's third memoir, Lit: A Memoir  is reviewed in New York Books at
    and the Christian Science Monitor at
    and National Public Radio
    and New York Time Out
    and the Los Angeles Tlimes at
    and her Poems at New York Times
    She starts writing, wiiving, mothering, and drinking.  The she sobers up, more than her mother, finds God, and settles down.  You recall her first work was Liars Club about her childhood in East Texas.

    Mike Cox - Interview

    TimeOfRangers  Ed Blackburn at the Texana Review interviews Mike Cox on his new (second installment) Texas Ranger book, Time of the Rangers.

    Monday, November 9, 2009

    H.G. Bissinger Inteview

    Friday Night Lights author H.G. Bissinger is interviewed, partially about last year's banning of FNL in Beaumont schools, in the annual report of the Texas ACLU review of Texas schools' recently banned books.  McCarthy's The Road and Sandra Cisneros' Woman Hollering Creek are on the lists.

    Page 8 reports "Where were the Most Challenges?

    Stephenville, Houston and Irving school districts reported the most challenges for the 2008-2009 school year. Stephenville ISD led the charge this year with 11

    challenges, all of which resulted in bans. Houston ISD and Irving ISD tied for the second most this year with six challenges each. This marks quite the improvement

    for HISD, as the district reported 20 challenges last year. Unfortunately, only one of HISD's six challenges resulted in the book being retained without restriction.

    While Irving ISD experienced just as many challenges, five of the six books challenged were retained without restriction: a sole book was restricted to the reference library. Tying for third was Seguin ISD and Klein ISD, each with four challenges."


    National Banned Books Week September 26 – October 3, 2009

    Friday, October 30, 2009

    Boerne - Morgenthaler

    Boerne, Settlement on the Cibolo by Jefferson MorgenthalerBoerne: Settlement on the Cibolo.  By Jefferson Morgenthaler.  Boerne:  Mockingbird Books, 2005.  paperback, photos, maps, bibliography, photo credit list, index, 125 pages.  ISBN 1-932-80108-1 $14.95


    Jefferson Morgenthaler , a former attorney and now independent historian (degrees from UT- Austin) and publisher, and his family moved to a farm on the outskirts of this Central Texas community, began researching his homestead and its surroundings.  Boerne is his story of the town, and the first in his Mockingbird Books publications that reveal the historical stories of Central Texas and elsewhere.


    One of the earliest matter of record for the area is the squabble, over land on Cibolo Creek about 30 miles northwest of San Antonio, between Ludovic Colquhoun, a Czech descendant, and Sam Maverick in 1842 based on an 1837 certificate.  Settlement eventually followed.  Boerne, plotted in July 1852 via John James ownership, grew slowly and wasn't surrounded by your typical collection of settlers.  They were intellectual socialists, German freethinkers, independent religionists, radical political theorists, idealistic Unionists, and other such unique individualists tired of the chronic warfare of central Europe at the time. Morgenthaler focuses on the early times up to the early twentieth century, but he occasionally adds comments on the modern times to update a line of discussion, even to the 1980's.


    Morgenthaler's research results in a book that is detailed in its following farmers along their property lines, artisans along the trails, the milkman Fabra on his delivery route, families to an occasional religious event, cattle along the streams, and merchants to and from San Antonio, but it is casual in the way a fellow would talk with neighbors.


    After settlement the community found its first big challenge during the Civil War that was roundly opposed by the non-slave-holding freethinkers.  The tight-knit nature of the folks is revealed as Morgenthaler says, "The Boerne Gesangverein became more than a singing club; it became a gene pool."  And today, although anybody and swim in the public pool, the life-guard can likely to have German ancestors.

    Thursday, October 29, 2009

    Gregg Cantrell - Interview

       Gregg Cantrell, author of a new biography of Stephen F. Austin (first substantive volume since Barker's tome in the 1920's)  is interviewed at
    It begins: "
    ADP: This is the first major work covering the life of Stephen F. Austin since Eugene C. Barker published The Austin Papers and The Life of Stephen F. Austin in 1928. What inspired you to write a new biography of Austin?
    Cantrell: Back in the early 1990s, I served on a committee at Sam Houston State University that was charged with planning the big celebration of Sam Houston's 200th birthday. While serving on that committee, we learned that there were no fewer than four new biographies of Houston being written. As a teacher of Texas history, I knew that Houston and Austin were both born the same year--1793--and I wondered what was being done on Austin. The answer, as it turned out, was nothing! I was hooked."
    Read more about it.
    Or see his TCU homepage at 

    Notes from Texas - Jameson

    Notes from Texas coverNotes From Texas:  On Writing in the Lone Star State. Edited by W.C. Jameson.  Fort Worth:  Texas Christian University, 2008. Designed and with usual fine woodcuts of Barbara M. Whitehead.  Dark maroon cloth on boards under an illustrated yellow jacket, with sun yellow endpapers, portrait photographs, indexed, 244 pages.  $27.95, and a genuine bargain at that.  ISBN 9780875653587


    Okay.  Here's what you wanted.  You sit down and have a personal one-on-one with 14 successful, living, contemporary authors (and the editor as well) about their lives, childhoods, inspirations, literary influences (both native and ultrariverine), disappointments, and goals.

    W.C. Jamison, a native West Texan has done it for you and I'm right glad for it. 

    First, let's list the authors in alphabetical order, like the chapters:

    Judy Alter, Robert Flynn, Don Graham, Rolando Hinojosa, Paulette Jiles, Elmer Kelton (now passed), Larry L. King, James Ward Lee, James Reasoner, Clay Reynolds, Joyce Gibson Roach, Red Steagall, Carlton Stowers, and Frances Vick.

                Whether they read Tarzan, the Texas old rocks, Shakespeare, or Vanity Fair; fought wars, avoided housework, drudged through writing classes, collected rejection slips, or scratched farmland; plied their trade in periodicals, books, theatrical joints or classrooms, Texas became home and a place of literary reference.

                Judy Alter used the Amon Carter Museum substantially to write her dissertation on the Western myth.  Robert Flynn, a Baptist from Chillicothe, got his writing fingers crushed in an auto door as a child.  Don Graham now teaches Dobie's old course.  Rolando Hinojosa-Smith has 14 novels within his "Klail City Death Trip" series, and he writes because his family read, and read aloud to each other.  Paulette Jiles find that writing is not a spectator sport.  Elmer Kelton, bless his typewriter, knew what it was like when it didn't rain.     Not a shy child, Larry King declared he'd become a "rich Famous Arthur."  James Lee, with Matthew Arnold, wanders "between two worlds, one dead, / The other powerless to be born."  Clay Reynolds pursues the ironic along with Shelley.  Joyce Royce recounts the West Texas wisdom, "If rain occasionally comes, will drought be far behind?" Red Steagall listened to the "Lone Ranger" on the radio.   Carlton Stowers continues his hunt for untold stories.  Fran Vick is frank, "Texas has defined my whole life ….", but Fran also can see beyond the river.

                If a youngster wished to teach a sorta course in modern Texas letters, he could cut this volume up into a thousand little pieces, paste them on 5x8 index cards, arrange them chronologically, and start talking as inspired these authors' words.