Author Archive

Naked in Galveston

Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca’s Chronicle of the Narváez Expedition—the first written account of what is now Texas—has enough bloodletting, cannibalism and equine deaths to fill a Cormac McCarthy novel. A Spanish conquistador looking to make his fortune, de Vaca departs for the New World in 1527 as part of the Narváez expedition, a five-ship […]

Read full

Piney Wood Pulp

Like most of Nacogdoches-based Joe R. Lansdale’s work, Vanilla Ride is set in East Texas. More Flannery O’Connor than Elmer Kelton, East Texas is not the landscape most people envision when thinking of the Lone Star State. Its tightly looped Bible Belt contains dense pine forests, humid swamps and dry counties. Add the region’s troubled […]

Read full

Where the Wild Things Are

The rubber Sasquatch head stared with glassy eyes from atop its pedestal. Beneath its gaze, Bigfoot Conference attendees milled about Tyler’s Caldwell Auditorium. Children peeked at the hairy visage from around parents’ legs. A pale man wearing black cowboy boots crossed his arms as a friend snapped a picture with his cell phone. Three teenage […]

Read full

Nuts

Fourth in an occasional series on recession-era Texas. Locked chains snake through Plainview’s Peanut Corp. of America plant fence, clinking in the wind. Grain elevators dot the flat Panhandle horizon. Standing in the deserted building’s gravel parking lot, you feel the diesel trucks rumbling a few hundred yards away on Interstate 27. You see smoke […]

Read full

Dateline

While I waited for the safety instructor, my eyes wandered to a laminated photograph on the wall. Among motivational posters of sunset kayakers and snow-peaked mountains, a nervously grinning man held up the drooping carcass of a 9-foot diamondback rattlesnake by the shaft of a pitching wedge. “Goddamn,” said my fellow trainee. I’ll call him […]

Read full

Writing the Wave

Anthologies are usually released after the end of a writer’s creative heyday, but the project is complicated in the case of Austin’s Bud Shrake, who perhaps more than any other Texas writer has continued through the years to reinvent himself, from newspaperman to novelist to New Journalist to screenwriter to hired hand and back to […]

Read full

Golden Days and Olden Ways

There’s no Chisos Basin, no Santa Elena Canyon, no Mule Ears in Texas’ Big Thicket National Preserve. Unlike Big Bend National Park, the only other United Nations International Biosphere Reserve in Texas, the Thicket entertains few visitors. Blackwater swamps, hardwood bottoms, and longleaf pine forests thick as cobwebs don’t make for best-selling coffee-table books. Besides […]

Read full

Playing For Tips

The last time I played Fort Worth, the bartender showed me a naked picture of himself. He stood in front of a run-down venue, his large pale body intermingled with falling snow in a Rorschach blot that wasn’t blotted enough. “That was in Burlington,” he said. “I always take shots in front of my old […]

Read full

The Serendipity Wrangler

The Southwestern Writers Collection is located on the top floor of the Alkek Library on the Texas State University campus in San Marcos. White walls, wooden doors, Saltillo tile floors and Indian rugs give its exhibit halls and conference rooms the feel of an adobe church. The collection’s archive houses the papers and artifacts of […]

Read full

Bound and Determined

Hidden deep behind the East Texas pine curtain, Beauty and the Book is almost certainly the world’s only beauty salon-bookshop, where visiting authors are treated to a facial and perm before talking about their books. “The funny thing is that the authors love it,” proprietor Kathy Patrick says. “Christopher Cook walked in, and I asked […]

Read full