Robert Cremins reviews Houstonian Emily Fox Gordon's new book in the Houston Chronicle. It begins: "Houston's Emily Fox Gordon is the author of the acclaimed memoirs Mockingbird Years and Are You Happy? With It Will Come to Me she makes a largely successful transition to the novel genre.
The book is a gentle, knowing satire set on the "quiet Southern campus" of the Lola Dees Institute in Spangler, Texas. Fifty-six-year-old Ruth Blau feels both "trapped and excluded" by her life as a faculty wife. A novelist with a Texas-size writer's block, modestly hoping for "a little glitter, a little transcendence," Ruth is quietly scandalized by the docility of the brainy student body and the vapidity of the college administrators, who nudge her into the marvelously titled "Tapestry Task Force Mission Statement Working Group.""
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
The students at Dominican University's Library School offer a review of the re-prinited, melodramtic version of the Lone Ranger, 2 vols.Author: Matthews, Brett (writer) and Cariello, Sergio (illustrator). Their commentary includes: "Readers who turn to this incarnation of The Lone Ranger because of a childhood affection for the 1950s TV series will be pleased with the detail and care given to the characters but may be surprised by the graphic violence portrayed. The Lone Ranger's no-kill code does not entirely prevent him from committing other acts of violence, and most of the other characters have no qualms about killing. This is a comic meant for teens and adults, not children. The series won the 2006 Eisner Award winner for Best New Series and Best Cover Artist, and True West magazine's awarded the series the "Best Western Comic Book of the Year" in their 2009 Best of the West Source Book." Read more at
or see more at Comic Book Resources at
Saturday, March 14, 2009
The State Parks & Wildlife folks over at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site offer a weekly email newsletter, rather well done. The Battle Report focuses on current events happening there, it's a lot - the Monument, the Battleship, and the grounds. Occasional strategic affairs are addressed. Public, volunteer, and staff activities are covered. Conservation and public service are the principal elements. Remember that it also includes the Battleship Texas. Archeological notes are included from time to time.
The Battle Report bills itself as: ""The purpose of this newsletter is to communicate the site's day-to-day natural and cultural resource management activities. Our goal is to inform and educate our staff, partners, and friends – and those we have yet to meet – Welcome!"
I can't see the Monument from my window so its nice of Russ Kuykendall, Park Complex Superintendent, to have added me to their mailing list. He can add you too! Just ask him. Call 281/479-2431 .
One of the regular columns is "This Week in Texas History." The photography is good! Visit their websites at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/san_jacinto_battleground/
Friday, March 13, 2009
A giant has gone to sleep.
Albert Horton Foote, Jr. (March 14, 1916 – March 4, 2009)
Readers, theater-goers, and movie watchers around the world were blessed by Horton Foote's 92 years upon the earth. He wrote his first story as a youngster in Wharton, Texas, sought to become an actor, and soon turned to writing, his home in literature, becoming a playwright.
In Farewell: A Memoir of a Texas Childhood (Scribner, 1999), he opens his narrative with
"I left my home in Wharton at sixteen, but no matter how poor I was, and I was often very poor, I always managed to return for a visit at least once a year, whenever I met with friends or relatives on those visits we inevitably got around to 'Do you remember when,' or 'I wonder whatever happened to ...' "
Though his many plays (Wharton Dance was his first in 1940, The Trip to Bountiful being one of the most popular and The Young Man from Atlanta for which he won the Pulitzer Prize), movies (he wrote the screenplays for To Kill a Mockingbird and Tender Mercies for which he won the Academy Award), and television scripts (he even wrote for the old Rod Serling's Twilight Zone and his Old Man received an Emmy), his work was informed by human relations where he found and passed on inspiration and humanity.
Ever one to engage the audience to wonder, Foote injected questions into Farewell, "I wonder why the boys turned out the way they did?" "Do Holy Rollers have preachers?" "How do you know he died of a broken heart, Auntie?" "Where did they live? Across the tracks with the other black people?" "Do you believe Papa behaved unfairly?" and, at the book's end "What if you have no talent, what if you finish acting school and you can't find a job acting and you have to go back home and work at your father's store the rest of your life?"
If you can't act, well, become a world reknowned playright.
On the edges of my feelings for the volume Farewell, I find William Goyen for his deep intimacy with his rearing, Katherine Porter for her refined craft, though dancing just out of sight of Texas, and Mary Karr for the naively rapscallion nature of childhood recollections.
If you can't go home again, or even Bountful, at least, we can go to theater.
Find the Horton Foote Society at http://www.hortonfootesociety.org/
Read the New York Times obituary http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/05/theater/05foote.html?_r=1
Hear him speak at YouTube's TV Legends channel in several segments
Published by Rand McNally & company, 1919
Original from Harvard University Digitized Sep 9, 2005 416 pages
Payne was an associate English professor at UT the time
Readable at Google and can be searched for "Texas"
Handbook of Texas article http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/PP/fpa60.html which in part states "Payne wrote or edited numerous articles and book reviews and contributed to texts widely adopted in Texas schools. He published the first anthology of Texas literature, A Survey of Texas Literature, in 1928. His other published works include History of American Literature (1919) and Texas Poems (1936)."
Texas Literary Outlaws: Six Writers in the Sixties and Beyond. By Steven L. Davis receives a lengthy commentary by Jeff Roche under the title "Urban Cowboys: Texas Literature in the 1960's" in H-Net-1960s
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Robert Burton Robinson offers his novels and short stories as free e-book downloads. The novels include BICYCLE SHOP MURDER, HIDEAWAY HOSPITAL MURDERS, ILLUSION OF LUCK, FLY THE RAIN, and SWEET GINGER POISON.
They're mysteries set in the town of Coreyville.
His self-description begins "I earned a Bachelor of Music degree and a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer and Information Sciences from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. I also did graduate work in both music and computer science.
I have worked in a wide variety of fields over the years, such as laborer, milkman, an electrician in a refinery, part-time and full-time music minister, establishing and running a music publishing company, and software engineering (computer programming).
I played guitar in a rock band in high school, wrote a screen play, several church musicals (some included drama, several were published), and a number of pop songs.
Hobbies: spending time with family, guitar, yoga (yeah—like Kory Mantra)."
Read more about him and his work at http://www.robertburtonrobinson.com/
Cynthia Leitsch Smith interview Texan author Jessica Lee Anderson
Cynthia's last question:
What can your readers look forward to next?
"Border Crossing (Milkweed Editions, fall 2009) is the story of a biracial teen named Manz who lives in a west Texas town. After witnessing an immigration bust and learning more about Operation Wetback, his growing paranoia threatens to consume him. "
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Winner of the 2008 Southwest Book Award and the 2007 Robert A. Calvert Book Prize
Ah, Salt! The essential for life! A source of greed and corruption! An opportunity for a community to defend itself!
Cool performs wonderfully delineating the "Warriors" of this distant and famed El Paso Salt War of 1877. Rather than some mindless drifting or power-play, the War is revealed as a raft power-players bent on wealth pitted against the long-established rights of the local Mexican-Americans to collect the element to live. Following a slow minuet during post-Civil War push and pull between former Union and Confederates, an
There were election frauds! Legislative inveigling in
It was a big deal, folks. And Paul Cool plays it out for you, one warrior at a time and mixes them together as he pulls information from diverse documents of the period.
The Pirooters by Mark Mellon.
Life in 1916 San Antonio where the civilization has budded with the Battle of Flowers, motorcycles, and talk of renaming Kaiser Wilhelm district to King William is interrupted with long-separated Grandfather Virge Pargrew's retun and recollection of a post-bellum adventure with Indians, treasure, and rides beyond the Rio Grande to the Bolsom de Malpini. It's a ridin' and shoot 'em up.
Seems Virge and brother Heck and Old Mose, the freedman "as old as time," set out on a series of rip snorting cavortations with Comanches, bandits, and a few unappreciative Frenchmen troubling the crew who are after Jim Bowie's Santa Perdida treasure. Mellow shows his realism as he recount the trio's decision to bury some bad guys, not out of sentiment, but out of practical caution, to keep the vultures from marking their location for El Guapo.
Woven into the tale readers find the 1916 descendants' forgiveness for old Virge and welcome him back into the family fold.
Sources vary on what is "pirooting." Some describe it as making one's way down a muddy street, some call it whirling, others wandering. The novel's back-flashing manner between 1916 and earlier times make the story a rootin' tootin' piroot of its own.
Each weekly calendar page faces a poem. Valentine Week contains Elizabeth Bratten's "Finding Love at the Old Wimberly Drugstore." She loved her burnt orange fountain pen named Big Red.
The back of each annual contains bio blurbs of the issues' poets and guidelines for the next year's submissions and the annual awards.
Edited by Scott Wiggerman.
187 poets, almost 300 poems, covering
This special issue and the continuing annual publications should be acquired by persons and institutions wishing to project a profile of being within the realm of
"Scott Wiggerman is the author of Vegetables and Other Relationships (Plain View Press, 2000) and editor of the Texas Poetry Calendar (Dos Gatos Press), now in its eleventh year. His work has appeared in numerous journals, including Borderlands:
"Dos Gatos Press is a small non-profit press dedicated to the promotion of
"Our primary means of promotion is the production of the annual Texas Poetry Calendar, now in its twelfth year, a continuation of the fine calendars that Flying Cow Productions originally produced. We also offer a series of readings each year to introduce the public to the work of the poets in each calendar."
The jacket image, suggestive of
Glenn's cooling marriage is dissolving and Hena's earthy, siren presence compels their passions for natural beauty, intellectualism, and sex. Their secret is quickly open to their associates who respond in varied ways. In some ways, the therapeutic setting of El Puente is metaphorical for the care and healing that surrounds us on a daily basis. The reader may wonder will this odd relationship function beyond a few seasons; is it so roller coasterish that it must derail? Life through a couple of semesters with them; paint the bus with flowers and such; trip to Big Bend; bear up under others' illnesses; learn to look closely at the nature of love.
Lyman Grant teaches at
Larry Thomas, in his "Foreword," writes, "In the Road Home, Lyman Grant probes, with haunting clarity and insight, the complexities of human love, from the tragedy of its passing to the ecstasy of its powerful return."
Grant reveals himself in intimate and common moments in the three sections, "Clear Directions to Some Place Else," "These Are Things I've Been Wanting to Tell You," and "Waiting for Mercy."
Grant places himself and his poems before you, "I have placed a bowl of apples / in the center of the table, / an iron bowl, black and strong, its legs / curled under, snakes about to strike." Desolate moments are scratched onto paper, "So a man drives around late at night / avoiding all the streets that lead home. / He knows lights are still on / that those who love him / are gathered round the table / talking, wondering what could have gone wrong." He finds words for events we delight to share "An angel wakes / on
Mike Kearby brings young readers another well- paced Western novel set in
Young-Man-Listens, a nine-year old Comanche, is captured by slavers and sold to a travelling circus where the nefarious Shelly McDuff cages him and bills him to gawkers as "The Last Renegade – Chief Raging Bull" for two years. Then the show rolls into Sheriff Miller's Territory. Miller's eleven-year-old son, Jake, immediately sees through the injustice of the imprisonment and sets the young Comanche free whereupon the two plus Marty scat on a trail of hiding, hunting, capture, a fight (partially aided by Walter the dog), and ultimate salvation by Jake's father. Young-Man-Listens eventually relents on the impulse of worst vengeance and rides off toward home in
Mack White's illustrations seem influenced by Nast cartoons and Hank the Cowdog.
Yazkov is slick with two quick murders near the border and two disguises in
Odam is a long-experienced
Odom speaks at http://www.youtube.com/user/candidateconspiracy
Houston Press interview
Texas Lawyer review
The president chooses Texas Judge Pepper Cartwright as his nominee, and the fun starts and the Texasisms grow throughout the clear prose. Buckley's Pepper, you see, stars in the nation's most popular reality show, "Courtroom Six." But she's also patently competent and playing politics comes naturally for Pepper. High-level advisors advise "no," but Chief Executive Vanderdamp (sic) wishes to push her into Congress' face. All this is complicated by Pepper's contract with the TV show, the shaky marriage, and a grandfather who warmly supports his darling daughter and doesn't need to shoot anybody in the process. Her first case on the Supreme bench is about "an idiot bank robber suing the maker of his gun." All the while there's a presidential race, a contemptuous Chief Justice, a constitutional amendment and an election crisis clattering around in the background and foreground. A wonderful read for those enjoying word-play and wit and the slow skewering of Washingtonians (the author is a Buckley, remember).
Audrey Cook provides this considerable volume on one of Obedience Although the family was landed, they were "land poor." Cook cautions us that Obedience was not the "Land Queen" or richest woman in The volume, although with genealogical intent, is largely informative narrative and makes for a wonderful read as the reader transits the history with rich documentation and frequent splicing of document excerpts.
Audrey Cook provides this considerable volume on one of
Although the family was landed, they were "land poor." Cook cautions us that Obedience was not the "Land Queen" or richest woman in
The volume, although with genealogical intent, is largely informative narrative and makes for a wonderful read as the reader transits the history with rich documentation and frequent splicing of document excerpts.
Raúl A. Ramos is assistant professor of history at the
The volume works the idea of what happened to the identity of the elite Tejano class. Two other books come to mind for their similar intellectual texture, Walter Webb's
Ramos' Beyond the Alamo first prods into the nature of the elite class of San Antonio Tejanos' identity among themselves and related to the indigenous peoples before the Anglo entrada. Then he narrates a more traditional history of those elite Bexareño families during the 1820's – 1850's bearing the identity proposition in mind on the threshold of and after the startling growth of the Anglo-American population.
Maybe the main spectrum Ramos uses is his continuing inspection of "relationships" between the families' members and also with the Anglo elites. Ramos goes further in exposing why the Bexareño elite were so adept in cultural brokerage with the Anglo elites; in several points he notes the strict class structures of the Anglo Southern society and the Mexican mestizaje society.
Readers new to this perspective on
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
March 2, 1836 - Texas Declaration of Independence from the Convention of 1836. Take a digital tour, chase a few rabbits, learn a little.
Texas State Library
Handbook of Texas Online
UT Tarleton Law Library
Yale University's Avalon Project
Humanities Texas traveling and online exhibit
Portal to Texas History lesson plan
Dawn Bishop's lesson plan
Texas Tides lesson plan
Texas State Cemetery
Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library Weblog
Lone Star Junction commentary
Wkipedia, of all places
Greatness to Spare: The Heroic Sacrifices of the Men Who Signed the Declaration of Independence by T.R. Fehrenbach
Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence by Benson J. Lossing
The Signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence by Louis Kemp
The Texas Declaration of Indepedence in Exact Facsimile by Anson Jones Press
Greer, James K. "The Committee on the Texas Declaration of Independence," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 30 and 31 (April and July 1927), 239-251, 33-49.
Shuffler, R. Henderson. "The Ark of the Covenant of the Texas Declaration of Independence." Southwestern Historical Quarterly 65 (July 1961), 87-100.
Shuffler, R. Henderson. "The Signing of Texas' Declaration of Independence: Myth and Record." Southwestern Historical Quarterly 65 (Jan. 1962), 310-332.