Insight and Books


Ottessa Moshfegh’s new book asks what it means to check out of society

A young New York woman figures there’s nothing wrong with existence that a fistful of prescriptions and months of napping wouldn’t fix in Ottessa Moshfegh’s “My Year of Rest and Relaxation.” Moshfegh’s prickly fourth book is narrated by an unnamed woman who’s decided to spend a year “hibernating.” She has a few conventional grief issues. (Her parents...
Austinite Carrie Fountain’s first novel dives into teenage uncertainty

Austinite Carrie Fountain’s first novel dives into teenage uncertainty

Syd and Miranda have always been a duo. Both have absent mothers. Both hope to escape their small hometown in New Mexico. And both feel they don’t quite fit in amongst their classmates in high school. For Syd, it’s a conscious choice. She’s dedicated herself to defying the odds by creating the résumé of any college applicant’s dreams, complete with Advanced Placement...
Blogger’s memoir addresses postpartum depression, addiction, recovery

Blogger’s memoir addresses postpartum depression, addiction, recovery

Popular blogger Janelle Hanchett’s memoir “I’m Just Happy to Be Here” is a tragicomic account of how early motherhood and marriage propelled her into a cycle of drug and alcohol addiction from which she narrowly escaped. Hanchett, the creator of the Renegade Mothering blog, was a senior in college when she discovered that she was pregnant by Mac, a 19-year-old rancher&rsquo...
Iranian-born writer reveals her relationship to illness in memoir ‘Sick’

Iranian-born writer reveals her relationship to illness in memoir ‘Sick’

“Sick: A Memoir” by Porochista Khakpour is the distinguished Iranian-born writer and creative writing professor’s memoir of her struggle with trauma, drug addiction, mental illness, and late-stage Lyme disease. Physical and mental pain had always defined Khakpour’s life. A child of the Iranian Revolution, her earliest memories were of “pure anxiety.” She survived...
Hugo Award winner makes connection between sci-fi and rock ‘n’ roll

Hugo Award winner makes connection between sci-fi and rock ‘n’ roll

The mothership connection is clear: Where there’s rock ’n’ roll, science fiction isn’t far away, as Hugo Award winner Jason Heller deftly demonstrates in “Strange Stars: David Bowie, Pop Music, and the Decade Sci-Fi Exploded.” The author was born in 1972, a couple of months after David Bowie’s landmark album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the...
She’s a TV star, but she’s still grappling with her parents’ deportation

She’s a TV star, but she’s still grappling with her parents’ deportation

The stories of migrant children — separated from their parents at the border, detained in makeshift facilities — has stirred something in all of us, but for Diane Guerrero, the feeling has been especially agonizing. When she was 14, Guerrero, the actress best known for her roles in “Orange Is the New Black” and “Jane the Virgin,” was separated from her immigrant...
For summer vacation, the best audiobooks are about long, strange trips

For summer vacation, the best audiobooks are about long, strange trips

Need an audiobook for your summer road trip? Here are some ideas. “The Dog of the South” by Charles Portis Recorded Books. Unabridged, 8 hours. Published almost 40 years ago, “The Dog of the South” still remains the funniest American road novel ever written. It is the story of Ray Midge’s pursuit of his wife, Norma, from Arkansas down through Mexico to Belize. She has...
David Lynch writes a memoir — but reveals only more mysteries

David Lynch writes a memoir — but reveals only more mysteries

Mystery is important to David Lynch, explanation anathema. His films defy straightforward interpretation; he’s never offered any. About his own biography, he’s long been coy. His press kits used to read simply, “Born Missoula, Montana. Eagle Scout.” So “Room to Dream,” a memoir pushing 600 pages, may come as a surprise. Is the game up? Fans who share Lynch&rsquo...
Former LA Times critic chronicles Paul Simon’s effect on music, culture

Former LA Times critic chronicles Paul Simon’s effect on music, culture

Robert Hilburn’s “Paul Simon: The Life” is a searching biography of the renowned songwriter, well known for his melancholic songs and competitive, perfectionist nature. The former longtime critic for the Los Angeles Times, Hilburn (“Johnny Cash: The Life,” 2013) ranks high in the firmament of writers on popular music, a fitting match for a subject who himself is very...
Austin author, ‘Doctor Strange’ screenwriter puts his short story skills to test

Austin author, ‘Doctor Strange’ screenwriter puts his short story skills to test

Many short story collections bring together previously published work, assembling in one place pieces that an author’s fans might struggle to find in the wild. “We Are Where the Nightmares Go and Other Stories,” the first short fiction collection from Austin-based author and screenwriter C. Robert Cargill, is not such a set. “We Are Where the Nightmares Go” is the work...
Al Roker examines class issues of 1889 Johnstown Flood in latest book

Al Roker examines class issues of 1889 Johnstown Flood in latest book

Al Roker, the ebullient weather personality from NBC’s “Today” show, returns with “Ruthless Tide,” a flood account that is both intimate and alert to the wealth and class distinctions highlighted by the 1889 Johnstown Flood. Roker, who wrote about a 1900 hurricane (“The Storm of the Century,” 2015), has some sizable footsteps to follow in this one —...
Eight things the other 49 states need to understand about Texas

Eight things the other 49 states need to understand about Texas

As we who live here are painfully aware, Texas can seem absolutely baffling to outsiders. In his latest book, “God Save Texas,” Lawrence Wright takes the myth and truth of the Lone Star State head-on in a series of essays that, the more one reads them, feel like a Texas 101 primer, the sort of thing to hand your relatives back east to explain How We in Texas Live Now. Here are eight essential...
Chuck Palahniuk escalates fractures of society in ‘Adjustment Day’

Chuck Palahniuk escalates fractures of society in ‘Adjustment Day’

An uprising in Portland, Ore., leads to social revolution and terror in Chuck Palahniuk’s “Adjustment Day,” a relentless satire of our splintered times. Many writers have complained recently that current events are distracting them from doing the work. Clearly, Palahniuk has embraced the madness, crafting a dystopian nightmare that takes all the fractures of our modern society and...
Here are 30 must-see movies from the Paramount Summer Classic series

Here are 30 must-see movies from the Paramount Summer Classic series

More than 110 movies are screening this summer as part of the Paramount Summer Classic film series. Here are 30 not to miss. There are others worth seeing, of course, but are 30 really good ones. “Stormy Weather” (7 p.m. May 31) This 1943 picture remains one of the most important musicals ever made (what with its staggering African-American cast). Starring  Lena Horne, Bill Robinson...
Author tackles one of the greatest baseball teams you’ve never heard of

Author tackles one of the greatest baseball teams you’ve never heard of

When Anne Keene, the Austin author of “The Cloudbuster Nine: The Untold Story of Ted Williams and the Baseball Team that Helped Win World War II,” was growing up, she knew that her father both loved and hated the game of baseball. She knew he adored it, loved the old players, told stories about them to the point that it became something of a family joke. But she also knew that he harbored...
Self-help memoir encourages working through cancer, not ‘fighting’ it

Self-help memoir encourages working through cancer, not ‘fighting’ it

Entrepreneur and speaker Paige Davis chronicles her breast cancer journey in “Here We Grow,” her debut memoir and self-help book. Davis was only 38 years old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The news was not a complete surprise; she had noticed a lump but delayed seeing a doctor due to her growing business, BlueAvocado. She and her family had endured too many recent brushes with...
Jesmyn Ward recasts old truths in award-winning ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing’

Jesmyn Ward recasts old truths in award-winning ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing’

The terrible beauty of life along the nation’s lower margins is summoned in Jesmyn Ward’s “Sing, Unburied, Sing,” a bold, bright, and sharp-eyed road novel. In present-day Mississippi, citizens of all colors struggle much as their ancestors did against the persistence of poverty, the wages of sin, and the legacy of violence. Thirteen-year-old Jojo is a sensitive African-American...
Austin author Jeffrey Kerr illustrates adventures of Texas politician

Austin author Jeffrey Kerr illustrates adventures of Texas politician

Jeffrey Kerr offers a sturdy historical novel recounting the adventures and misadventures of the second president of Texas in “Lamar’s Folly.” “Some say that if Mirabeau Lamar hadn’t shot the buffalo he wouldn’t have become president.” That’s as promising an opening line as any, and Kerr (“Seat of Empire: The Embattled Birth of Austin, Texas,&rdquo...
Austin author weaves family history, immigration into ghost story

Austin author weaves family history, immigration into ghost story

Austin author Natalia Sylvester’s second novel, “Everyone Knows You Go Home,” interweaves past and present, America and Mexico into the legacy of a family divided by its own stories. The day of her wedding, Isabel meets her new husband’s father’s ghost. Omar is trying to repair the damage he left his son, Martin, and wife, Elda, by persuading Isabel to give him a chance...
President Bill Clinton coming to Bass Concert Hall on June 10

President Bill Clinton coming to Bass Concert Hall on June 10

Bass Concert Hall will host “A Conversation with President Bill Clinton” at 7:30 p.m. June 10. Clinton will discuss “The President is Missing,” his new novel co-authored with bestselling writer James Patterson. This is the first time a president has collaborated with a bestselling novelist on a work of fiction.  Tickets go on sale April 27 and range from $49.50 to...
Satirist Christopher Moore’s ‘Noir’ shoots and misses

Satirist Christopher Moore’s ‘Noir’ shoots and misses

A regular joe stirs up a whole pot of trouble when he meets a damsel in distress in Christopher Moore’s “Noir.” Renowned satirist Moore offers up a soft-boiled take on the hard-boiled tradition personified by the likes of Dashiell Hammet and Raymond Chandler in this messy, comic mystery that often goes off the rails. The book does offer a fascinating setting in San Francisco circa...
Daniel Peña’s debut novel tells grim tale mixed with desperate hope

Daniel Peña’s debut novel tells grim tale mixed with desperate hope

Uli knows if they can make it to the highway, they’ll live. With 25 feet to go before impact, he can’t even scream before the prop plane his brother is piloting crumples into the ground, the sound a “thundering crack of flesh on metal.” Surviving the crash turns out to be the least of Uli’s worries, though, as Daniel Peña illuminates in his keenly observed debut...
Robert Ashcroft’s horror debut explores humanity in age of monsters

Robert Ashcroft’s horror debut explores humanity in age of monsters

An augmented soldier fights against apocalyptic nightmares in a brutal war to save humanity in Robert Ashcroft’s “The Megarothke.” Debut novelist Ashcroft unleashes a witch’s brew of macabre, Lovecraftian imagery in this strange horror novel that couches a heavy emotional arc within its video game-like setting. Our narrator is former LAPD officer-turned-cybernetic survivor...
Lawrence Wright: Eight things the other 49 states need to understand about Texas

Lawrence Wright: Eight things the other 49 states need to understand about Texas

As we who live here are painfully aware, Texas can seem absolutely baffling to outsiders. In his latest book, “God Save Texas,” Lawrence Wright takes the myth and truth of the Lone Star State head-on in a series of essays that, the more one reads them, feel like a Texas 101 primer, the sort of thing to hand your relatives back east to explain How We in Texas Live Now.  Here are eight...
No cash, no price tags: 10 things to know about new Amazon Books store

No cash, no price tags: 10 things to know about new Amazon Books store

Amazon Books opened its first Texas store at the Domain Northside last month. Here’s a guide to help you know what to expect. As evidenced by the purchase of more than 400 Whole Foods stores, Amazon is investing heavily in physical retail outlets, despite its dominance as an online company. The 4,800-square-foot bookstore at the Domain Northside, which opened in March, is an effort...
Hamid’s ‘Exit West’ is a bittersweet love story in ashes of civil war

Hamid’s ‘Exit West’ is a bittersweet love story in ashes of civil war

Mohsin Hamid (“Discontent and Its Civilizations,” 2014) crafts a richly imaginative tale of love and loss in the ashes of civil war in “Exit West.” The country — well, it doesn’t much matter, one of any number that are riven by sectarian violence, by militias and fundamentalists and repressive government troops. It’s a place where a ponytailed spice merchant...
Austin author traces complicated legacy of Texas movie ‘Giant’

Austin author traces complicated legacy of Texas movie ‘Giant’

Don Graham, the J. Frank Dobie Regents Professor of English at the University of Texas, is probably the pre-eminent critic of Texas culture, and it’s hard to imagine anyone better to tackle a book about one of the biggest – and best – movies ever made about the state: “Giant.” In his new book, Graham starts in May 1955, when members of the press are invited to the Warner...
The ATX Bookstore Crawl is coming April 28

The ATX Bookstore Crawl is coming April 28

The second annual Austin Bookstore crawl takes place April 28. After all, it’s the season of brick-and-mortar-retail celebration. Record Store Day takes place April 21; Free Comic Book Day on May 5. Participating ATX Bookstore crawl include: HalfPrice Books (All 7 Locations) Here is the deal, according to the website: “Visit three or more of the participating bookstores on April 28...
Journalist Lauren Hilgers’ new book makes case for U.S. as a sanctuary

Journalist Lauren Hilgers’ new book makes case for U.S. as a sanctuary

Lauren Hilgers’ “Patriot Number One” is an affecting portrait of a Chinese dissident who found a home among like-minded democrats in faraway New York. Journalist Hilgers, who has covered China for the New Yorker and Businessweek, among other publications, met Zhuang Liehong in his home village on the southern coast of China. There, in 2011, as she reported, villagers had rebelled...
Jonathan Evison’s latest, ‘Lawn Boy,’ brings humor to life’s misfortunes

Jonathan Evison’s latest, ‘Lawn Boy,’ brings humor to life’s misfortunes

An aimless young man decides to get his life together, but life has other plans in Jonathan Evison’s “Lawn Boy.” Mike Muñoz doesn’t quite know what he wants out of life, but he knows he deserves better than what he’s got now: a terrible job cutting lawns, a truck that barely runs, and a tiny house packed with a disabled brother, an exhausted mother, and his mother&rsquo...
History, fantasy comic book anthology raises money for Puerto Rico

History, fantasy comic book anthology raises money for Puerto Rico

St. Louis-based comic book publisher Lion Forge is joining the relief efforts to assist those still in need in Puerto Rico after the destruction of Hurricane Maria. All profits from Lion Forge’s just-released “Puerto Rico Strong” anthology, written and illustrated by some of the top Puerto Rican and Latino talent in the comic book industry, will go to the United Way of Puerto Rico...
Wrongfully convicted Texan chronicles fight against justice system

Wrongfully convicted Texan chronicles fight against justice system

A travesty of the Texas judicial system leads to death-row vindication in Anthony Graves’ memoir, “Infinite Hope.” Though Graves served more than 18 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit, his account is largely without bitterness or outrage — and is all the more powerful because of it. The facts speak for themselves. On a night when the author was with his girlfriend...
Texas author recounts life of anarchist advocate born into slavery

Texas author recounts life of anarchist advocate born into slavery

Jacqueline Jones’ “Goddess of Anarchy” is a tough-minded biography of a fiery revolutionary whose activism spanned the decades from Reconstruction to the New Deal. Bancroft Prize winner Jones evinces considerable respect for her subject, a woman born into slavery who gained fame in 1880s Chicago as one of the anarchist movement’s most vocal advocates of violent revolt. But...
Austin author offers tips on how you can be a better writer

Austin author offers tips on how you can be a better writer

This month’s Statesman Selects is a little different. Usually, we highlight a work of fiction or nonfiction — something with some sort of narrative. This month’s Selects is, well, a textbook. An incredibly cool textbook. In “The Writer’s Field Guide to the Craft of Fiction,” Austin author (and program director for the Writers’ League of Texas) Michael Noll...
Walter Mosley’s mystery ‘Down the River’ is familiar but satisfying

Walter Mosley’s mystery ‘Down the River’ is familiar but satisfying

Walter Mosley’s “Down the River Unto the Sea” begins what looks to be a new series with a protagonist whose territory covers New York City’s outer boroughs—and, yes, that means Staten Island, too. Joe King Oliver was an ace investigator with the NYPD until his roving eye helped him get framed for sexual assault. “Trouble ambushed me with my pants down and my nose...
‘Betty Before X’ tells story of civil rights leader Betty Shabazz’s youth

‘Betty Before X’ tells story of civil rights leader Betty Shabazz’s youth

Imagine trying to write about your mother when she was a kid. Where would you start? What details would you include? To write “Betty Before X,” Ilyasah Shabazz had to think hard about those questions. Her mother, Betty Shabazz, was an important civil rights leader. When her husband, Malcolm X, was assassinated in 1965, Betty Shabazz continued his work in social justice until her death...
Author of quiet love story ‘Call Me by Your Name’ to visit BookPeople

Author of quiet love story ‘Call Me by Your Name’ to visit BookPeople

“Call Me by Your Name” is a graceful debut novel by memoirist/literary scholar André Aciman (“False Papers,” 2000,), joining young love to his familiar themes of dislocation and wandering. One could be arrested in certain parts of the world for the young love in question, which joins a 17-year-old bookish musician who is improbably well educated — not many college-educated...
Sean Penn coming to Austin April 3

Sean Penn coming to Austin April 3

Actor/director/activist/colorful personality Sean Penn is coming to Austin to chat with historian Douglas Brinkley about Penn’s debut novel “Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff.” They will be talking about the book and probably some other things (Penn’s Oscars, his blend of activism and journalism, not finding Chris Rock’s 2005 Oscars joke about Jude Law funny) 7 p.m. April 3...
Mexican-American grapples with lessons learned on Border Patrol

Mexican-American grapples with lessons learned on Border Patrol

A Mexican-American student of international relations becomes a United States Border Patrol agent to learn what he can’t in the classroom in Francisco Cantú’s “The Line Becomes a River.” Cantú is a talented writer who knows where to find great material, even as he risks losing his soul in the process. His Mexican mother had worked as a ranger in West Texas, and...
Former special counsel to Bill Clinton examines 2016 election

Former special counsel to Bill Clinton examines 2016 election

Lanny J. Davis, former special counsel to former President Bill Clinton, takes on the 2016 election and James Comey’s effect on the outcome in “The Unmaking of the President 2016.” According to Davis (“Close-Up: Twelve Months at Yale,” 2017), the negative effect is indisputable, and he has the data, compiled both before and well after the election, to back up his claims...
Austin author drew on a real-life terror for ‘The Which Way Tree’

Austin author drew on a real-life terror for ‘The Which Way Tree’

About seven or so years ago, something happened to Austin author Elizabeth Crook’s family that planted the seed for her fifth novel, “The Which Way Tree.” They were out in the Hill Country celebrating the birthday of her daughter, who was turning 6. At some point in the day, her then-14-year-old son and a friend decided to go to a nearby cabin to go camping. They took off about noon...
Reading the best Black Panther comics is cheaper than a movie ticket

Reading the best Black Panther comics is cheaper than a movie ticket

It’s well established that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is not all that closely related to whatever has gone on or will go on in the comic books published by Marvel. However, there’s also no getting around the fact that the MCU have always taken characters, plot points, situations and relationships straight from the comics. Which is to say, you don’t have to read the comics to understand...
How Michael Pollan pivoted from agriculture to acid in new book

How Michael Pollan pivoted from agriculture to acid in new book

Michael Pollan knows you’re probably a little surprised to hear about his next book. The author known for the seminal book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” has been labeled a food writer, but he prefers thinking about himself as a nature writer. Through that best-selling book and several others, including “Cooked” and “The Botany of Desire,” Pollan uses food...
Latest in Terry Shames’ mystery series explores horrors of dogfighting

Latest in Terry Shames’ mystery series explores horrors of dogfighting

A small-town chief of police acquires a dog en route to solving a vicious case of murder in Terry Shames’ “A Reckoning in the Back Country.” Samuel Craddock, who’s come out of retirement to run the local police department on a shoestring, finds his resources stretched when Margaret Wilkins reports her husband missing. Dr. Lewis Wilkins, last seen leaving the couple’s...
‘Oliver Loving’ is a vividly rendered exploration of school shootings

‘Oliver Loving’ is a vividly rendered exploration of school shootings

Ten years later, a school shooting in West Texas is revisited from the perspective of a family it changed forever in Stefan Merrill Block’s “Oliver Loving.” What we know, what Eve Loving, her husband, Jed, and their son, Charlie, know, is this: a recent graduate named Hector Espina Jr. returned to the Bliss Township School campus the night of the homecoming dance, shot the drama...
Thorpe shares enlightening stories of refugee students in ‘Newcomers’

Thorpe shares enlightening stories of refugee students in ‘Newcomers’

Helen Thorpe’s “The Newcomers” is a collection of personal stories of child refugees as they integrate into American society. Focusing on one classroom in South High School in Denver, Colo., Thorpe (“Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War,” 2014) dives deep into the lives of 22 students, all refugees, who were just some of the many who enrolled in...
Matt de la Peña and Loren Long’s ‘Love’ honors what makes us who we are

Matt de la Peña and Loren Long’s ‘Love’ honors what makes us who we are

It’s tempting to eschew picture books once children are past a certain age. From suggested age ranges to the excitement over young readers’ ability to move into more challenging texts, there are plenty of reasons driving the shift into heftier volumes as the years progress. But it would be a mistake to leave picture books behind completely. Nonfiction picture books, with their mix of well-researched...
Harry Ransom Center acquires massive Arthur Miller archive

Harry Ransom Center acquires massive Arthur Miller archive

The Harry Ransom Center at UT has acquired the archive of American playwright Arthur Miller (1915–2005). Obtained from the Arthur Miller Trust, the archive spans Miller’s career. During his lifetime the Ransom Center had a close association with Miller, who first donated a group of early play manuscripts and working notebooks to the Center in the early 1960s. This new acquisition...
Texas Book Festival will take place Oct. 27 and 28

Texas Book Festival will take place Oct. 27 and 28

The 23rd Texas Book Festival will take place Oct. 27 and 28 in and around the Texas State Capitol in downtown Austin, it was announced Wednesday. The 2017 Festival Weekend was the most successful on record, with 50,000 attendees and about 300 authors coming together on November 4 and 5, 2017. The annual First Edition Literary Gala, which took place Nov. 3 of last year, raised more than $630,000 for...
The strange case of Richard Nixon vs. Timothy Leary

The strange case of Richard Nixon vs. Timothy Leary

At one point during a free-ranging conversation about Timothy Leary, Richard Nixon, acid and the ability to just hop on a plane in the 1970s, increasingly legendary Texas journalist Bill Minutaglio asks me a question I was not expecting: “Joe, do you think young people even know who Timothy Leary is?” It’s important to note that the man didn’t ask it in a condescending, &ldquo...
Why an American raised her children with a German parenting style

Why an American raised her children with a German parenting style

“Achtung Baby” is an American woman’s account of how she altered her parenting methods to mimic her new German neighbors. When Sara Zaske (“The First,” 2012) moved with her husband and young daughter to Berlin, she discovered that her German neighbors handled parenting quite differently than what she was used to in the U.S. In this well-written mix of personal reflections...
Austinites looking for ‘Fire and Fury’ will have to wait until Jan. 8

Austinites looking for ‘Fire and Fury’ will have to wait until Jan. 8

While there were long lines and reports of sellouts in Washington, D.C. for “Fire and Fury,” Michael Wolff’s book on Donald Trump, Austinites will have to wait until Monday, Jan. 8, for the book. While, earlier this week, publisher Henry Holt and Company moved up the pub date to Jan 5. in response to Trump’s objections to the book, some distributors were unable to...
Austinite Boyd Taylor’s ‘Necessities’ an engrossing crime series sequel

Austinite Boyd Taylor’s ‘Necessities’ an engrossing crime series sequel

In Boyd Taylor’s “Necessities,” a Texas lawyer comes to the aid of a war veteran who’s on trial for murder. Reporter David Lewis, a double amputee since a street battle in Iraq, is pleasantly surprised by his run-in with Cordelia Lehrer. The two, who’d had a one-night stand in college, quickly reignite their intimacy. But there may be more to the reunion: Cordelia invites...
Therapist recounts abuse, survival in ‘The Only Girl in the World’

Therapist recounts abuse, survival in ‘The Only Girl in the World’

Maude Julien’s “The Only Girl in the World” is a disturbing, engrossing memoir of a bizarre, highly abusive childhood. Psychotherapist Julien makes her literary debut with a gripping chronicle of growing up imprisoned and tormented by her parents. Isolated on a walled estate not far from Dunkirk, Julien was raised to become a “superior being,” destined to “control...
‘Stormlight Archive’ series continues with gripping third book

‘Stormlight Archive’ series continues with gripping third book

Brandon Sanderson’s “Oathbringer” is an epic fantasy about the return of an ancient, world-destroying evil. God is dead. And Odium, the god who killed the Almighty, is unleashing terrible monsters to destroy humankind. Dalinar Kholin has bonded with the powerful spren known as the Stormfather and led his people to the lost city of Urithiru, but his work is just beginning. Now he...
Louise Erdrich’s new book full of spiritual questions, observations

Louise Erdrich’s new book full of spiritual questions, observations

The idea that evolution could suddenly move backward may seem like an incredible fantasy, but in Louise Erdrich’s dreamlike, suspenseful “Future Home of the Living God,” it’s a fitting analogue for the environmental degradation we already experience. A biological apocalypse has animals suddenly appearing in trippy, shocking manifestations — a dragonfly with a 6-foot wingspan...
A small guide to Austin’s 7 specialty comics shops

A small guide to Austin’s 7 specialty comics shops

New to Austin and wondering where to get your weekly comics fix, fill out your trade paperback collection and flip through back issues? Here is a guide to Austin’s comic book specialty shops. Note: This list contains only comic book shops. Comics and graphic novels can be found at many Austin stores selling new and used books, including BookPeople and any Barnes and Noble or Half Price Books...
Wrap up these books this holiday whether the kids were naughty or nice

Wrap up these books this holiday whether the kids were naughty or nice

Perhaps you want to give something that will last longer than the latest electronic gadget. Maybe you just want to keep your young ones reading over winter break. Whatever your motivation, the solution beckons on these pages — new titles that entertain, inform and engage: Your holiday gift list starts here. Hortense finds her shadow tiresome. It constantly trails after her through the woods...
‘Santa’s Husband’ is the season’s best Christmas book for very young readers

‘Santa’s Husband’ is the season’s best Christmas book for very young readers

On the very first page of “Santa’s Husband” is a picture of Santa -- he is black, wearing glasses and in a Santa outfit. “This is Santa,” it reads. On the opposite page, a picture of a white guy who looks a lot more like the guy in a Coke ad. “This is Santa’s husband,” it reads. So, already, it’s a not a stereotypical take on the Jolly Old Elf...
In ‘God: A Human History,’ Reza Aslan looks at how we think about God

In ‘God: A Human History,’ Reza Aslan looks at how we think about God

There are many lovely, canny and insightful things in Reza Aslan’s new book “God: A Human History,” written in Aslan’s clear, accessible style. My favorite phrase, however, is on the back, where the line above the blurb of endorsement reads: “Advance Praise for ‘God.’” Looking at that as a joke works on a few levels. According to most religions, of course...
A guide to Austin’s comics specialty shops

A guide to Austin’s comics specialty shops

New to Austin and wondering where to get your weekly comics fix, fill out your trade paperback collection and flip through back issues? Here is a guide to Austin’s comic book specialty shops.  Note: This list contains ONLY comic book shops. Comics and graphic novels can be found at many Austin stores selling new and used books, including BookPeople and any Barnes and Noble or Half Price...
Austin-based Dana Barney’s thriller sequel is tricky, cerebral

Austin-based Dana Barney’s thriller sequel is tricky, cerebral

In Dana Barney’s futuristic thriller “Half Life,” a sequel to “Flatline” (2015), a conspiracy debunker uncovers evidence of an elite plot against the world. In Austin, Peter Richards used to be an investigative journalist but became the victim of a conspiracy so stressful it gave him a heart attack. A mechanical heart restored his life (though he died and was revived...
With ‘Spineless,’ Austin author explores both her past and jellyfish

With ‘Spineless,’ Austin author explores both her past and jellyfish

Consider, if you will, the humble jellyfish. It’s a creature both 95 percent water and often possessed of one of the planet’s deadliest venoms. A creature that has existed in its current form, more or less, for millions of years, yet is one of the planet’s most delicate. In some languages, jellyfish translates as “living water” — how cool is that? And yet, we don&rsquo...
Best-sellers, 11/19/17

Best-sellers, 11/19/17

LOS ANGELES TIMES BEST-SELLERS FICTION 1. “Manhattan Beach,” Jennifer Egan 2. “Uncommon Type,” Tom Hanks 3. “The Rooster Bar,” John Grisham 4. “Turtles All the Way Down,” John Green 5. “Origin,” Dan Brown 6. “A Gentleman in Moscow,” Amor Towles 7. “Little Fires Everywhere,” Celeste Ng 8. “Lincoln in the Bardo...
Anne Fadiman’s ‘The Wine Lover’s Daughter’ a graceful ode to her father

Anne Fadiman’s ‘The Wine Lover’s Daughter’ a graceful ode to her father

Anne Fadiman (“At Large and at Small: Confessions of a Literary Hedonist,” 2008) decants a harmonious blend of biography, wine lore and memoir in “The Wine Lover’s Daughter,” an account of a literary daughter’s relationship with her celebrated literary father. Born into a secular Jewish family in Brooklyn, Clifton Fadiman (1904-1999) spent his adult life submerging...
Krysten Ritter’s debut a somewhat predictable but fast-paced thriller

Krysten Ritter’s debut a somewhat predictable but fast-paced thriller

A young environmental lawyer returns to her small Indiana hometown to investigate pollution by a regional plastics giant, but settling old scores and healing old wounds weigh heavily on her mind in Krysten Ritter’s “Bonfire.” Abby Williams left the aptly named Barrens, Ind., for Chicago as soon as she turned 18 and never looked back, trading the equivalent of a one-horse town that...
Best-sellers, 11/12/17

Best-sellers, 11/12/17

NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLERS FICTION 1. ‘The Rooster Bar,’ John Grisham 2. ‘Two Kinds of Truth,’ Michael Connelly 3. ‘Origin,’ Dan Brown 4. ‘Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier,’ Mark Frost 5. ‘Uncommon Type,’ Tom Hanks 6. ‘Deep Freeze,’ John Sandford 7. ‘Sleeping Beauties,’ Stephen King and Owen King 8. ‘A Column of...
Attention Austin hoarders: ‘American Pickers’ is coming to Texas

Attention Austin hoarders: ‘American Pickers’ is coming to Texas

     You know it, I know it, your neighbors know it: Austin is lousy with folks who just will not throw away their stuff. Austin’s garages, its sheds and its crawl spaces are filled with plenty of objects from the good old days, be those the 90s rock/tech boom, the 80s oil boom and bust, the cosmic cowboy 1970s, the ‘60s and earlier. (See also our fair city’s pawn...
Richard Linklater wants to make a movie about 1970s Houston

Richard Linklater wants to make a movie about 1970s Houston

The Houston Chronicle is reporting that longtime Austin resident, local film godfather and eternal Texan Richard Linklater would love to take a make a movie (or something) about growing up in Houston in the 1960s and ‘70s. “Houston deserves a good TV series and a couple of more movies," the 57-year-old was quoted during a chat to promote his most recent movie, "Last Flag Flying"...
Dan Rather on the idea of alternative facts: ‘You don’t have to have a Harvard or Stanford degree to know this is ridiculous’

Dan Rather on the idea of alternative facts: ‘You don’t have to have a Harvard or Stanford degree to know this is ridiculous’

Dan Rather, the 86 years young former anchor and editor of the CBS Evening News, sat down with Evan Smith of the Texas Tribune to launch his essay collection “What Unites Us” on Saturday at First Baptist Church as part of the Texas Book Festival. Here is what we learned: Patriotism should not be confused with nationalism. “Patriots have an abiding love of country,” Rather said...
5 things to know about Texas Book Festival on Sunday

5 things to know about Texas Book Festival on Sunday

The second day of Texas Book Festival takes place Sunday at the Capitol and surrounding venues, and most events are free and open to the public. Here are five highlights for Sunday (see all previews and live coverage at austin360.com/bookfest): 1. Jennifer Egan. It has been seven years since Egan’s last novel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning “A Visit from the Goon Squad,” so fans and...
Mike McCrary’s ‘Steady Trouble’ is a Hollywood action film in print form

Mike McCrary’s ‘Steady Trouble’ is a Hollywood action film in print form

A woman’s recent addition to a trust fund could earn her a windfall — provided the other beneficiaries don’t kill her first — in Mike McCrary’s “Steady Trouble.” Texas bartender Theodora, better known as Steady Teddy, has had trouble with her memory since she sustained brain trauma when she was 18. Her injury stems from a home invasion resulting in her parents&rsquo...
5 things to know about the Texas Book Festival on Saturday

5 things to know about the Texas Book Festival on Saturday

The Texas Book Festival is Saturday and Sunday at the Capitol and surrounding venues, and most events are free and open to the public. Although director and actor Tom Hanks is the highest-profile name this year — here with a collection of short fiction, “Uncommon Type” — his ticketed event is sold out. Here are five highlights for Saturday (see all our previews and coverage...
Arimah, Davis, Dimaline win $50k Kirkus Prizes

Arimah, Davis, Dimaline win $50k Kirkus Prizes

“What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky: Stories”  by Lesley Nneka Arimah, “The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea” by Jack E. Davis and “The Marrow Thieves” by Cherie Dimaline have all won the fourth annual Kirkus Prize, it was announced Thursday night. Each winner receives a cash prize of $50,000, making the Kirkus Prize one of the richest annual literary...
Texas Book Fest celebrates all the young readers

Texas Book Fest celebrates all the young readers

Yes, you should take your kids to the Texas Book Festival. Whether your young reader is elementary age or young adult, voracious or reluctant — there’s a program aimed to engage. Building on the success of last year’s themed tent for young adults, this year includes the addition of a dedicated “Next Chapter” middle-grade tent that will host the likes of “Frindle&rdquo...
Texas Book Fest amplifies Latino voices at ¡Ahora Sí! tent

Texas Book Fest amplifies Latino voices at ¡Ahora Sí! tent

For the third year in a row, you’ll be able to sample some of the Latino authors at the ¡Ahora Sí! tent at the Texas Book Festival (¡Ahora Sí! is the Spanish publication of the Austin American-Statesman). Most authors will appear both during the regularly scheduled sessions in and around the Capitol building and at the ¡Ahora Sí! tent, which this year will...
Attica Locke’s new series is, in part, a ‘love letter to black Texans’

Attica Locke’s new series is, in part, a ‘love letter to black Texans’

Attica Locke, who grew up in Houston and worked for three seasons as a writer for TV’s “Empire,” has a great new book series beginning, focusing on a black Texas Ranger, Darren Mathews, who works along Highway 59 in East Texas. It’s called “Bluebird, Bluebird,” and Locke will talk about it and other matters as a speaker at Friday’s First Edition Literary Gala...
Lythcott-Haims examines her racial identity in ‘Real American’

Lythcott-Haims examines her racial identity in ‘Real American’

In a text that resembles a memoir, a prose poem, and an album of verbal snapshots, a writer from a mixed racial background chronicles her journey — and battle — to understand her racial identity. Julie Lythcott-Haims (“How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success,” 2015), who holds a variety of academic degrees (including Harvard...
Going to the Texas Book Festival? (You should!) What you need to know

Going to the Texas Book Festival? (You should!) What you need to know

Welcome to the 22st annual Texas Book Festival. Since 1996, the literary shindig has highlighted authors from across the state, the country and ultimately the world — inside and in the shadow of the Texas Capitol. Dan Rather, Jennifer Egan and Jeffrey Eugenides are just a few of the more than 280 authors previously announced for the 21st Texas Book Festival, which takes place Nov. 4 -5 at the...
Roger D. Hodge tells a Texas story in a way you haven’t heard before

Roger D. Hodge tells a Texas story in a way you haven’t heard before

West Texas native Roger D. Hodge’s new book, “Texas Blood,” has a peculiar structure — and a peculiar approach. It’s part memoir, part travelogue, part history and part literary criticism. In other words, it’s quite remarkable, mainly because it refuses to follow traditional forms of storytelling, and that makes it all the more interesting. TEXAS BOOK FEST 2017...
Texas Book Festival 2017: Some of the authors you should check out

Texas Book Festival 2017: Some of the authors you should check out

Journalists love words, reading and all kinds of books. Our team at the Austin American-Statesman has been on the ground at the Texas Book Festival from the beginning — we’d attend purely as lovers of books, even if it wasn’t one of the biggest cultural events of the year in Austin. Here, we recommend some of the authors we’re excited to see at the fest. See the full schedule...
In ‘Hue 1968,’ author examines a key chapter in the Vietnam War

In ‘Hue 1968,’ author examines a key chapter in the Vietnam War

Like his epochal best-seller “Black Hawk Down,” Mark Bowden’s “Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam” is the story of a battle. Like “Black Hawk Down,” it is smart, well-reported and hypnotic in spots. Also like “Black Hawk Down,” it might very well become a motion picture (Michael Mann has optioned the rights to it and is contemplating...
Dan Brown, Rupi Kaur top best-sellers lists

Dan Brown, Rupi Kaur top best-sellers lists

NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLERS FICTION 1. ‘Origin,’ Dan Brown 2. ‘Sleeping Beauties,’ Stephen King and Owen King 3. ‘Manhattan Beach,’ Jennifer Egan 4. ‘A Column of Fire,’ Ken Follett 5. ‘Don’t Let Go,’ Harlan Coben 6. ‘The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye,’ David Lagercrantz 7. ‘The Cuban Affair,’ Nelson DeMille...
Holocaust survivor Edith Eger writes memoir with integrity, conviction

Holocaust survivor Edith Eger writes memoir with integrity, conviction

Mental health professional Edith Eger braids stories of her patients’ epiphanies with her own personal journey through Nazi Germany in “The Choice.” As a Holocaust survivor and clinical psychologist, 89-year-old Eger is often introduced to her audiences at speaking engagements as “the Anne Frank who didn’t die.” Her poignantly crafted memoir is a meditation on two...
Stephen King’s collaboration with son Owen King tops best-seller list

Stephen King’s collaboration with son Owen King tops best-seller list

NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLERS FICTION 1. ‘Sleeping Beauties,’ Stephen King and Owen King 2. ‘Don’t Let Go,’ Harlan Coben 3. ‘A Column of Fire,’ Ken Follett 4. ‘The Cuban Affair,’ Nelson DeMille 5. ‘Haunted,’ James Patterson and James O. Born 6. ‘The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye,’ David Lagercrantz 7. ‘To Be Where...
Alice Hoffman brings Owens sisters back in ‘Practical Magic’ prequel

Alice Hoffman brings Owens sisters back in ‘Practical Magic’ prequel

In “The Rules of Magic,” the Owens sisters are back —not in their previous guise as elderly aunties casting spells in Alice Hoffman’s occult romance “Practical Magic” (1995), but as fledgling witches in the New York City captured in Patti Smith’s memoir “Just Kids.” In that magical, mystical milieu, Franny and Bridget are joined by a new character...
James McBride explores race and culture in collection ‘Five-Carat Soul’

James McBride explores race and culture in collection ‘Five-Carat Soul’

James McBride’s “Five-Carat Soul” is a versatile, illustrious author brings out his first short-fiction buffet for sampling, and the results are provocatively varied in taste and texture; sometimes piquant, other times zesty. It’s not every contemporary fiction collection that includes one story featuring Abraham Lincoln and another (somewhat) unrelated story involving a young...
Nelson DeMille, Ernest Cline top best-sellers lists

Nelson DeMille, Ernest Cline top best-sellers lists

NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLERS FICTION 1. ‘The Cuban Affair,’ Nelson DeMille 2. ‘To Be Where You Are,’ Jan Karon 3. ‘A Column of Fire,’ Ken Follett 4. ‘Haunted,’ James Patterson and James O. Born 5. ‘The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye,’ David Lagercrantz 6. ‘A Legacy of Spies,’ John le Carré 7. ‘Enemy of the State...
Find new books, meet favorite authors at Texas Teen Book Festival

Find new books, meet favorite authors at Texas Teen Book Festival

This year’s Texas Teen Book Festival keynote authors instill thrills in young readers, from creating an immersive world of online combat to crafting an armed standoff in verse. Best-selling authors Marie Lu and Jason Reynolds anchor a lineup that includes writers from nearly every genre along with signings, writing and educators’ workshops, a costume contest and the brand-new iTent. &ldquo...
Tom Hanks added to Texas Book Festival lineup

Tom Hanks added to Texas Book Festival lineup

Screenwriter, director, producer, actor and “Bosom Buddy” Tom Hanks will be coming to Austin for the 2017 Texas Book Festival to present his new collection of short fiction, “Uncommon Type.” Hanks will discuss his stories with best-selling author Lawrence Wright (“The Looming Tower”) at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 4 at First Baptist Church, 901 Trinity St., book festival organizers...
Celeste Ng’s second novel strikingly illuminates life in America

Celeste Ng’s second novel strikingly illuminates life in America

Celeste Ng’s “Little Fires Everywhere” is an incandescent portrait of suburbia and family, creativity, and consumerism burns bright. It’s not for nothing that Ng (“Everything I Never Told You,” 2014) begins her second novel, about the events leading to the burning of the home of an outwardly perfect-seeming family in Shaker Heights, Ohio, circa 1997, with two epigraphs...
Why Longmire doesn’t — and wouldn’t — carry a cellphone

Why Longmire doesn’t — and wouldn’t — carry a cellphone

People ask me why my protagonist, Walt Longmire, doesn’t carry a cellphone, and my immediate response is: Have you ever been to Wyoming? With more than 97,000 square miles, the state is divided into 23 counties, some of them as large as Maryland but none of them named Absaroka. Taking a cue from Faulkner, I decided to go with a fictional county, a decision that turned out to be one of the smartest...
Ken Follett’s new release dominates best-sellers lists

Ken Follett’s new release dominates best-sellers lists

NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLERS FICTION 1. ‘A Column of Fire,’ Ken Follett 2. ‘The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye,’ David Lagercrantz 3. ‘Enemy of the State,’ Kyle Mills 4. ‘The Romanov Ransom,’ Clive Cussler and Robin Burcell 5. ‘A Legacy of Spies,’ John le Carré 6. ‘Secrets in Death,’ J.D. Robb 7. ‘Little Fires Everywhere...
Author understands why people think the Templars still exist

Author understands why people think the Templars still exist

To ask Dan Jones — writer of the completely excellent “The Templars: The Rise and Spectacular Fall of God’s Holy Warriors” — about the biggest misconception about the Templar Knights is to elicit the lowest of chuckles. “There’s a lot of competition,” Jones says. He’s written five books about medieval history, including popular volumes on the War...
Here are your 2017 Kirkus Prize nominees!

Here are your 2017 Kirkus Prize nominees!

Kirkus Reviews announced Tuesday the six finalists for the fourth annual Kirkus Prize in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, and Young Readers’ Literature. Winners in the three categories will each receive $50,000, and will be announced at a special ceremony in Austin on , November 2, two days prior to the start of the Texas Book Festival. This year’s finalists were chosen from 610...
Englander’s ‘Dinner’ weaves fine writing with unsteady tone

Englander’s ‘Dinner’ weaves fine writing with unsteady tone

A prisoner is held for more than a decade in the Israeli desert while, elsewhere, a general in a coma hallucinates about his past life and a young man works to fund the Palestinian resistance in Nathan Englander’s “Dinner at the Center of the Earth.” Englander’s (“What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank,” 2012) latest novel is an odd amalgam: part political...
Louise Penny, John le Carré top best-sellers lists

Louise Penny, John le Carré top best-sellers lists

NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLERS FICTION 1. ‘A Legacy of Spies,’ John le Carré 2. ‘Secrets in Death,’ J.D. Robb 3. ‘Enemy of the State,’ Kyle Mills 4. ‘Y Is for Yesterday,’ Sue Grafton 5. ‘Glass Houses,’ Louise Penny 6. ‘The Right Time,’ Danielle Steel 7. ‘The Western Star,’ Craig Johnson 8. ‘Camino Island...
From politics to prose, meet the authors coming to Texas Book Festival

From politics to prose, meet the authors coming to Texas Book Festival

Dan Rather, Jennifer Egan and Jeffrey Eugenides are just a few of the more than 280 authors scheduled to appear Nov. 4 and 5 at the 21st annual Texas Book Festival at the Capitol and surrounding grounds. The festival, which draws about 40,000 people over two days, on Tuesday night announced its full lineup, which includes writers in literary fiction, genre fiction, history, politics, Texana, memoir...
From politics to prose, meet the authors coming to the Texas Book Festival

From politics to prose, meet the authors coming to the Texas Book Festival

Dan Rather, Jennifer Egan and Jeffrey Eugenides are just a few of the more than 280 authors scheduled to appear Nov. 4 and 5 at the 21st annual Texas Book Festival at the Capitol and surrounding grounds. The festival, which draws about 40,000 people over two days, on Tuesday night announced its full lineup, which includes writers in literary fiction, genre fiction, history, politics, Texana, memoir...
More Insight and Books Stories