New and Noteworthy Books: February

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[The Observer's periodic round-up of recent and forthcoming books by Texas authors, on Texas presses, or about Texas topics. Compiled by Books Editor David Duhr.]

DrBrinkley_02.inddDr. Brinkley’s Tower, Robert Hough (1/1/13, Steerforth Press)—A fictionalization of the life of John Brinkley, famed border blaster and oddball doctor who claimed to cure impotence by implanting goat testicles in his patients. (Don’t try that at home. Don’t try that anywhere.) Reviews range from “lackluster” and “colorless” to “ingratiating” and “fictional magic.”

Anonymity, Janna McMahan (1/1/13, Koehler Books)—Based on research on homeless youth in Austin, this novel tells of an unlikely friendship between an Austin bartender and a homeless teen. Blurber Ron Rash calls this one “an insightful and compelling novel of young people adrift on the streets of Austin.” Look for the writer to make an Austin appearance  in the spring.

Make it, Take it, Rus Bradburd (1/8/13, Cinco Puntos)—Steve Pytel, assistant coach at an Arizona college, is having a rough go of things on the court and off: job trouble, girl trouble, car trouble. Through it all, he must somehow manage to keep his team together and his players out of jail. Former college hoops coach Bradburd puts his experience to use in this his third book, and first novel. Blurber Alex Shakar, whose work we’re fans of, writes, “For all the hilarity in these pages, Make It, Take It is a soul-wrenching indictment of how the game behind the game is played.”

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The Drowning House, Elizabeth Black (1/15/13, Random House)—This debut out of Houston may appeal to readers enthralled with Galveston, about which Black writes lyrically. The rest—including the story itself—is disappointing. See the full Observer review in the February issue, or check back here soon.

Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale, Lynda Rutledge (2/5/13 paperback, Penguin)—This debut novel has some amusing insights into Texas. And Texans. And God. It’s not a bad story, though it’s unlikely to stay with you. Nobody will say it better than our own Robert Leleux.

Calling Me Home, Julie Kibler (2/12/13, St. Martin’s)—Another big-house debut from a Texas writer, this one covers an East Texas-to-Cincy road trip during which two aging women, one black and one white … well, you know, learn about themselves and each other. Early reviews are encouraging.

edge-of-dark-water-014Edge of Dark Water, Joe R. Lansdale (2/12/13 paperback, Little, Brown & Co.)—We don’t have to tell you who Joe Lansdale is. His latest offers more “East Texas noir,” with plenty of corpses and chases and swamps, not to mention a Huck Finn-like river journey.

Edie & the Low-Hung Hands, Brian Allen Carr (late February, Small Doggies Press)—Carr, winner of our inaugural Short Story Contest, is back with a new novella. Marlet, the hung-handed protagonist, slices his way through a nightmarish desert. Blurber Percival Everett says  Carr’s “Texas landscape is a mix of country and blues. Larry McMurtry sings Robert Johnson.” Read the opening chapter, see if it’s for you.