Steven G. Kellman

Steven G. Kellman is the author of The Restless Ilan Stavans: Outsider on the Inside and American Suite. He teaches at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Big Tex 2012
Books, Topics

‘Big Wonderful Thing’ Valianty Fits Much of Texas History Into a Single Book

Stephen Harrigan forgoes a sweeping narrative and instead opts for finely etched anecdotes to explain the state’s epic history.

Alaska leads in area, California in population, but Texas surpasses all other states in swagger, strut, and self-regard.  This (partly) explains why the catalog of books about the state is so vast, and why those books tend to sprawl. T.R. … Read More


‘The Secrets We Kept’ is a Finely-Structured Story of Secrets, Spies, and Secretaries

Lara Prescott’s sparkling debut novel is based on one of the Cold War’s strangest stories: a covert operation to spread a banned book across the Soviet Union.

When I taught American literature at a Soviet university in 1980, I managed to bring along some books that were banned by the Kremlin: Catch-22, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Slaughterhouse-Five. I passed the limited copies on to my … Read More

Karen Olsson

‘The Weil Conjectures’ Rewards the Intellectually Adventurous

Part biography, part memoir, Karen Olsson’s new book traces the extraordinary lives of a famous mathematician and his philosopher sister.

The Latin root of the word conjecture, conicere, means to throw things together. Think of Jackson Pollock splashing different paints onto a canvas and hoping for some kind of coherent result. In mathematics, the term refers to a proposition offered … Read More


Octavio Solis’ ‘Retablos’ Recounts a ‘Beautiful, Messy’ Youth on the Border

Though its title evokes Mexican folk art, Retablos is closer in effect to that of French pointillism. Its small dabs of vivid color produce a brilliant cumulative effect.

Describing his memories of childhood, 60-year-old Octavio Solis says that they come to him like “a set of retablos, votive images painted on old beaten tin, marked with the mystery of being.” In Mexican folk art, retablos are offerings of … Read More


In ‘God Save Texas,’ Lawrence Wright Explains the Lone Star State to Outsiders

The latest entry in the ever-popular explaining-Texas genre, “God Save Texas” is a rambling, impressionistic record of ambivalence.

In 1845, when the United States was hotly debating the imminent annexation of Texas and the prospect of a war with Mexico, Abraham Lincoln wrote to a constituent: “I perhaps ought to say that individually I never was much interested … Read More