Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Review: WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A VOICE LIKE THAT? THE STORY OF EXTRAORDINARY CONGRESSWOMAN BARBARA JORDAN by Chris Barton

And here it is, y'all, Chris Barton's picture-book biography of the Honorable Barbara Jordan: What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan (Beach Lane Books), illustrated by Ekua Holmes. "I will pass this beautiful book along to my grandsons so they can learn, free of simple-minded jingoism, what it means to be a patriot."

CHILDREN’S BIOGRAPHY
Chris Barton (author), Ekua Holmes (illustrator)
What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan
Hardcover, 978-1-4814-6561-8 (also available as an e-book), 48 pgs., $17.99
September 25, 2018 
"When Barbara Jordan talked, we listened.” —Former President of the United States, Bill Clinton
The late Honorable Barbara Jordan grew up in Houston’s Fifth Ward. “She may have looked like other kids … acted like other kids,” Chris Barton writes. “But she sure didn’t sound like other kids. Not with that voice of hers.”

Y’all remember that voice, yes? Sounded like the voice of God, deep and rich, sounded like the voice of moral authority, the voice of profoundly felt convictions. “That big, bold, booming, crisp, clear, confident voice,” in Barton’s words. “It caused folks to sit right up, stand up straight, and take notice.”

What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan is the new picture book from Austinite Chris Barton, author of the best-selling Shark vs. Train, Sibert Honor–winning The Day-Glo Brothers, and Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List books The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch (2016–17) and Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions (2017–18).

When I spoke with Barton a few weeks ago, he called Jordan “a true Texas hero” whose career in the Texas Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, and on the faculty of the LBJ School of Public Affairs “set a shining example of how to take a natural gift and put it to use for the benefit of one’s community, state, and nation.”

The phrase “What do you do with a voice like that?” is a refrain throughout the book.

“First you give that voice something to say.” Barton writes that Jordan began with reciting poetry in church, memorizing speeches for school, and entering — and winning — oratory contests. When an African American lawyer visited Jordan’s high school to speak to the students, Jordan found her calling.

“You give it more knowledge to work with.” Jordan graduated from college and law school.

“In 1960, America was not as free or as fair a place as it could be,” Barton writes. “Barbara believed that politics could change that.” One night when a scheduled speaker at a political event wasn’t able to attend, Jordan spoke instead. The audience was inspired and Jordan, finally, “knew just what to do with a voice like that.” She ran for office.

Listening to Jordan speak about President Nixon and Watergate from her position on the House judiciary committee in 1974 gives me chill bumps every time I hear it. Y’all remember, yes? “My faith in the Constitution is whole, it is complete, it is total. And I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution.”

As Barton writes, “The president, Barbara said, must go. The president went.” What a spectacular use of that voice in service to a nation.

Ekua Holmes is a fine artist and illustrator who lives not far from where Jordan attended law school at Boston University. Her debut picture book, Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, won multiple awards, including a Caldecott Medal. Holmes was influenced early on by what she saw as a lack of positive images of African Americans and believes that art can help right that wrong. In her collages, she layers newspaper, photos, fabric, and other materials, to create compositions saturated in color and infused with personality.

What Do You do with a Voice Like That? is recommended for ages four to eight, grades preschool through third. The concepts are sophisticated but in Barton’s hands understandable, engaging, and inspiring for youngsters. I will pass this beautiful book along to my grandsons so they can learn, free of simple-minded jingoism, what it means to be a patriot.

Originally published in Lone Star Literary Life.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Monday Roundup: Texas Literary Calendar September 24-30, 2018

Bookish goings-on in Texas for the week of September 24-30, 2018: 

Special Events:
Banned Books Week, September 23-29

Texas Association of Creative Writing Teachers Conference, San Antonio, September 27-29

The 2018 Texas Tribune Festival, Austin, September 27-29

7th Annual LibroFest, Houston, September 29

3rd Annual Pflugerville Comic Con, September 29

Ongoing Exhibits:

The Texas Liberator: Witness to the Holocaust exhibition (from the book The Texas Liberators: Veteran Narratives from World War II), Houston, September 7-October 28
Cullen Performance Hall, Inprint's Margarett Root Brown Reading Series presents a reading with Esi Edugyan and Meg Wolitzer, 7:30PM

Murder By the Book, Sara Gran will sign and discuss The Infinite Blacktop, 6:30PM

Talento Bilingüe de Houston, Jose Antonio Vargas, reading from his new book, Dear America: Notes of An Undocumented Citizen, 7PM

Irving
Valley Ranch Library, Fun Fall Events with Travel Writer Michelle Ames, 7PM

Tuesday, September 25:

Spiderhouse Ballroom, Austin Poetry Slam Quarterfinal 2 featuring Queen Sheba, 7:15PM

The Writing Barn, Words and Wine with author and literary agent Alexandra Penfold, 7:30PM

Canyon
Panhandle Plains Historical Museum, an evening of poetry about Amarillo and the American West by PEN Southwest Book Award-winning poet Chera Hammons, 7PM

WTAMU, Distinguished Lecture Series: Miguel Palomares, author of Dream to Achieve: A Practical Guide to Pursue Your Goals, Dreams, and Aspirations, 6PM

Dallas
Iterabang Books, Sarah Weinman discussing and signing THE REAL LOLITA, 7PM

SMU - McFarlin Auditorium, Tate Lecture Series: The Linda and Mitch Hart Lecture with James Baker III, Leon Panetta, and David Gergen, 8PM

Fort Worth
Monkey & Dog Books, An Evening with Anne Bogel, creator of Modern Mrs. Darcy, 6:30PM

Frisco
B&N - Stonebriar, A Parade of Elephants reading and signing with Kevin Henkes, 6PM

Houston
Blue Willow Bookstore, Max Brallier will discuss and sign his new novel THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH AND THE COSMIC BEYOND, 5PM

Bohemeo's, Glass Mountain September reading, 7PM

Brazos Bookstore, Sandeep Jauhar discussing and signing HEART: A HISTORY, 7PM

The DeLuxe Theater, Toya and Reuben Levi will present an illustrated lecture on The Green Book: African-American Travel in the Jim Crow Era, 6:30PM

Miller Outdoor Theatre, David Gonzalez’ "Cuentos: Tales from Latino/x World," 11AM

San Antonio
Wednesday, September 26:
Dallas Morning News Auditorium, CENSORSHIP SESSION 1: “The History of Censorship, Its Development in the West, and the Phenomenon of Banned Books,” 7PM

Interabang Books, Chris Barton reading and signing WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A VOICE LIKE THAT?, 7PM

Temple Emanu-El, World Affairs Council of DFW presents Doris Kearns Goodwin discussing and signing Leadership in Turbulent Times, 7:30PM

Houston
Avant Garden, Write about Now Poetry Open Mic featuring Kas, 7:30PM

Blue Willow Bookshop, Anne Bogel will discuss and sign her book I'D RATHER BE READING, 7PM

Brazos Bookstore, Major Garrett discussing and singing MR. TRUMP’S WILD RIDE, 7PM

LSC-Atascocita Center Library, Banned Books Read Out/Speak Out, 12:30PM

Murder By the Book, Sarah Weinman will sign and discuss The Real Lolita, 6:30PM

United Way of Greater Houston, World Affairs Council of Greater Houston presents Aisha Ahmad, author of Jihad & Co.: Black Markets and Islamist Power, 6:30PM

San Antonio
SMOKE BBQ + BREW + VENUE, Build Your Brand With Your Nonfiction Book featuring Lionel Sosa, Diana Barrios Trevino, and Diane Huth, 5:30PM

Wichita Falls
Midwestern State University - Moffett Library, Millie Gore will discuss censorship and present her new picture book, All is Assuredly Well, 3PM

Thursday, September 27:
Austin
Dallas Center for Photography, Dallas Center for Photography Speaker Series presents Arthur Meyerson, followed by a signing of his newest book, The Journey, 7PM

Deep Vellum Books, Nonfiction Authors Association monthly DFW meet up, 7PM

Half Price Books Mother Ship, Jérémie Royer Book Signing, 7PM

Interabang Books, Launch Party: The Athenaeum Review, 7PM

Denton
UNT - Sage Hall, Visiting Writers Series featuring a reading and signing with Eduardo Corral, 8PM

Edinburg
UTRG, Gallery 2018 Launch Party, 6PM

Houston
Brazos Bookstore, Dietmar Froehlich discussing and signing THE CHAMELEON EFFECT, 7PM

Carnegie Branch Library, Houston Poet Laureate Youth Workshop, 4PM

San Antonio
B&N - First Colony, Story time with local author Maria Ashworth, 10AM

Saturday, September 29:

Stephen L. Clark Gallery, Kenny Braun signs As Far As You Can See, 6PM

El Paso
Memorial Park Public Library, Tumblewords Project workshop: 100 Thousand Poets for Change with Rubi Orozco Santos, 12:45PM

Fort Worth
Half Price Books - Ridgmar, local author Earlina Green will sell and sign her self-help book, The Beginner's Guide to Finding Your Brave, 1PM

Houston

Lubbock
B&N, Jodi Thomas signing MISTLETOE MIRACLES, 2PM

Midland
Centennial Library, Permian Basin Bookies meeting featuring “How to avoid the Seven Deadly Sins of Writing" with Nancy Robinson Masters, 10AM

Odessa
Dee's Art Venue, Permian Basin Poetry Society Presents: 100 Thousand Poets for Change, 12PM


The Twig Book Shop, Sue Presnall Dyke signing Banking on Cattle: Texas Settlers Growing with the West, 2PM


Dallas
Deep Vellum Books, How Not to Be Intimidated by Poetry with Lisa Huffaker, 12PM

Deep Vellum Books, Poetry with Cristina Rivera Garza and Sabrina Orah Mark, 6PM

Half Price Books Mother Ship, local author Kena Sosa will sell and sign her children's book, The Unhuggables, 1PM

Half Price Books Mother Ship, Kyle Mills Book Signing, 5PM

The Mayfair on Turtle Creek, Dallas author Jeffrey Eaton signing Murder Becomes Mayfair, 3PM

Houston
Brazos Bookstore, Gabriela Wiener discussing and signing SEXOGRAPHIES, 4PM

Richardson
The Drawing Board, Writing Workshops Dallas seminar: "Author Platform 101: Building Your Brand without Selling Your Soul" with JR. Forasteros, 3PM

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Texas Institute of Letters 2018 contests now open!


The Texas Institute of Letters (TIL) literary contests, with prizes totaling more than $22,000, are now open. 

TIL has named its distinguished judges for its literary contests, which are now open for submissions. Judges will select finalists and winners in twelve categories for the best works published in 2018. Winners will be awarded a total of more than $22,000 at the TIL’s annual meeting, to be held on April 26-27, 2019 in McAllen, Texas

Go here for more information and to enter the contest.


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Review: BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY BURN AGAIN by Ben Fountain

This is necessary reading. I reviewed Beautiful Country Burn Again: Democracy, Rebellion, and Revolution (Ecco Books) by Dallas's Ben Fountain for Lone Star Literary Life. "As disturbing and enraging as Fountain’s subject is, it’s a pleasure to read long-form journalism by a gifted fiction writer. I hope he does it again."

POLITICS/GOVERNMENT
Ben Fountain
Beautiful Country Burn Again: Democracy, Rebellion, and Revolution
Ecco Books
Hardcover, 978-0-0626-8884-2 (also available as an e-book, audiobook, and large-print paperback), 448 pgs., $27.99
September 25, 2018
“Nautonomy: the asymmetrical production and distribution of life chances which limit and erode the possibilities of political participation.” —David Held, Democracy and the Global Order
Ben Fountain pulls no punches. “This wasn’t Democrats versus Republicans so much as the sad, psychotic, and vengeful in the national life producing a strange mutation,” he writes, “a creature comprised of degenerate political logic.”
Where were you when you heard the news? You remember, don’t you, whether you thought the news was fantastic or catastrophic? I do; I was somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean on a 787 bound for New Delhi. So, naturally, at 9 p.m. EST I began pestering the cabin crew for election news. The pilot resorted to announcing updates and when it was done, when the result was announced, I cried.
I write this review on the day Paul Manafort pleads guilty to conspiracy against the United States.
Beautiful Country Burn Again: Democracy, Rebellion, and Revolution is the first book of nonfiction from Ben Fountain, a former attorney, whose fiction is famous. You may not be familiar with Brief Encounters with Che Guevara, a collection of short stories which won the PEN/Hemingway Award in 2007, but you cannot have avoided Fountain’s novel, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2013 and became a film directed by Ang Lee — Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.
“I was having feelings. They weren’t good feelings,” Fountain writes. “By Thanksgiving, 2015, these feelings had crystalized into a sense that something new and ugly was afoot in the land of the famously free.” So, The Guardian newspaper dispatched him to the campaign trail to “figure out what the hell was going on out there.” The result was a series of essays for the newspaper which eventually became Beautiful Country Burn Again.
Much more than a simple expansion of that series of essays, this book is a triumph of reporting — a synthesis of research, interviews, observation, experience, and analysis producing a vital mix of politics, economics, philosophy, sociology, psychology, and history. Fountain contextualizes the result with a “Book of Days,” preceding each chapter, which sets the global stage upon which the events of that chapter played themselves out.
Fountain explores and explains and distills into what he calls the “American anthropology,” which is basically this: If we believe freedom is a finite thing, then the perception of a loss of freedom necessarily means that someone else has gained more freedom by taking it from us, and the less freedom you have, the more likely you are to be exploited economically. Ergo, “the American anthropology, the two horns of a bloody dilemma on which the democratic experiment has balanced for 240 years,” Fountain writes. “Profit proportionate to freedom; plunder correlative to subjugation.” If the boot is on my neck now then it must have been removed from someone else’s neck.
“Twice in its history the United States has had to reinvent itself,” Fountain writes, “in order to survive as a plausibly genuine constitutional democracy.” Those instances were the Civil War and the Great Depression. In the first instance, “the land literally burned … either the country would be reinvented as a profoundly different social order — with a redistribution of freedom … a resetting of the values in the freedom-profits-plunder equation — or it would be broken in two.”
The Great Depression forced a second reckoning: FDR’s New Deal countered what Fountain describes as “the threat that unbridled industrial capitalism posed for democracy.” In other words, if you are owned by your employer, with no bargaining power and no safety net if you fall, you are a slave in “a new kind of bondage, a shell democracy that maintained the forms of political equality while abetting an economic system that denied the great mass of people meaningful agency over their lives.”
Fountain believes we are now faced with the choice of a third reinvention or the death of the American Dream, in essence a crisis point of existential threat no less pivotal than the two previous reinventions.
As Jon Meacham, historian and author of Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush (and many other books), says, “Sometimes it takes a novelist to capture a world gone mad, and it’s difficult to imagine a better match for our times than Ben Fountain.” Agreed. Fountain has examined the symptoms, analyzed the data, and offered a diagnosis of what ails us: “Fear is the herpes of American politics: the symptoms bloom and fade, but the virus never dies.” (Thanks for that image.)
If you’ve been paying attention, there is no new information in Beautiful Country Burn Again; if you haven’t been paying attention, then brace yourselves. Reminding me of Hunter S. Thompson without the ’ludes, Fountain writes in a colloquial style, telling unvarnished home-truths with an outraged, acerbic wit. He has a gift for getting at the essence of a thing, recognizing Trump as a combination of J.R. Ewing and Tony Soprano, his presidency a reality-TV program taken to its logical extreme.
Fountain conducts a consciousness-raising session and a deep-dive of a history lesson in electoral politics. He demonstrates cause and effect in clear, concise, and persuasive prose—no magic here. No one escapes; Fountain takes the Republicans to task as well as Democrats, closing Beautiful Country Burn Again in urgent tones with an inspiring moral case for what could be. Don’t skip the footnotes; they include authorial commentary, sometimes in French, as well as the citations.
The Fire Next Time, The Fire This Time, Beautiful Country Burn Again. Possibly the most chilling sentence in Fountain’s new book is, “This may be the most powerful medicine in politics, the leader who delivers a man to his natural self.” Is the result of the 2016 election a product of our natural selves? I do not want this to be who we are.
As disturbing and enraging as Fountain’s subject is, it’s a pleasure to read long-form journalism by a gifted fiction writer. I hope he does it again.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Monday Roundup: Texas Literary Calendar for September 17-23, 2018

Bookish goings-on in Texas for the week of September 17-23, 2018: 

Special Events:
Writers' Feast 2018, Dallas, September 21

SCBWI North Texas 2018 Keep On Truckin' Conference, Addison, September 21-22

FenCon XV, Irving, September 21-23

Wizard World Comic Con, Austin, September 21-23

McKinney Square Book Festival, September 22

Literary Frontiers Author Event, San Marcos, September 23

Ongoing Exhibits:

The Texas Liberator: Witness to the Holocaust exhibition (from the book The Texas Liberators: Veteran Narratives from World War II), Houston, September 7-October 28
Brazos Bookstore, Bethany McLean discussing and signing SAUDI AMERICA, 7PM

Petroleum Club of Houston, World Affairs Council of Greater Houston presents Bethany McLean discussing and signing Saudi America: The Truth About Fracking and How It's Changing the World, 11:30AM

Richardson
Richardson Public Library, Writers Guild of Texas workshop: "Plot from Character" with Tex Thompson, 7PM

Tuesday, September 18:
Spiderhouse Ballroom, Austin Poetry Slam featuring Layla Crawford, 7:15PM

Dallas
Half Price Books Mother Ship, Kristan Higgins will discuss and sign her new novel, Good Luck With That, 7PM

Houston
Blue Willow Bookstore, Bob Shea will discuss and sign his new picture book, CRASH, SPLASH, OR MOO!, 5PM

Brazos Bookstore, Guadalupe Nettel reading and signing AFTER THE WINTER, 7PM

Stages Repertory Theatre, Tintero Projects open mic & featured reader, 7PM

Irving

West Irving Library, Andra Watkins Author Event: Hard to Die and I Am Number 13, 6:30PM

Richardson
Aboca's, Friends of the Richardson Public Library Annual Dinner Featuring Kathleen Kent, 6PM

San Antonio
B&N - San Pedro,  R. L. Toalson reading and signing The Colors of the Rain, 7PM

Central Library, San Antonio Book Festival presents Get Lit with Mimi Swartz, author of Ticker: The Quest to Create an Artificial Heart, 5:30PM

The Mix, PuroSlam featuring DJ Donnie Dee, 9:30PM

Texas Lutheran University, Austin Kleon, author of Steal Like An Artist, 7:30PM

Spring
B&N - Lincoln Park, Saudi America: The Truth About Fracking and How It's Changing the World book signing with Bethany McLean, 7PM

Heroes Lounge, Dallas Poetry Slam hosts El Jefe - Teaching Artist/Touring Poet, 7PM


Denton
Recycled Books, Open mic night, 6PM

Houston
Avant Garden, Write about Now presents 1,2,3 Minute Poetry Slam + Lino Anunciacion Book Release Show, 7:30PM

Murder By the Book, Craig Johnson will sign and discuss Depth of Winter, 6:30PM

Spring Forest Middle School, Marie Lu will discuss and sign her new novel WILDCARD, 7PM [ticketed event]

University of Houston - MD Anderson Library, Poetry & Prose reading series, 5:30PM

Richardson
Richardson High School Auditorium, Richardson Reads One Book Author Event: Dave Eggers will discuss and sign The Circle, 7:30PM

San Antonio
The Twig Book Shop, Arnold LeUnes discussing and signing Okie Boy; Texas Aggie and Sentimental Journey Home I (1965 to 2018): Stamping Out Ignorance in Aggieland: One Professor's Memories and Reflections, 5PM

Thursday, September 20:
Arlington
UTA - Library Mall, UTA Human Library, 12PM

Austin
Dallas Museum of Art, Arts & Letters Live: Sarah Bird presents Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen, 7:30PM

Deep Vellum Books, Richard J. Gonzales discussing and signing Raza Rising: Chicanos in North Texas, 7PM

Half Price Books Mother Ship, author of the Longmire series, Craig Johnson, will discuss and sign Depth of Winter, 7PM

Hotel Crescent Court, World Affairs Council of DFW presents David Sanger, national security correspondent for The New York Times, discussing and signing The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age, 6:30PM

Interabang Books, Andrew Gross reading annd signing BUTTON MAN, 7PM

SMU - McCord Auditorium, Will Hitchcock discusses his latest book, Age of Eisenhower: America and the World of the 1950s, 6PM

Houston
B&N - River Oaks, Story time featuring Julie Beasley reading and signing H is For Harvey, 11AM

B&N - First Colony, Story time with local author Maria Ashworth, 10AM

Friday, September 21:
Austin

Boerne
Patrick Heath Public Library, Poets for Peace: An evening of poetry, 6PM
Murder By the Book, Andrew Gross will sign and discuss Button Man, 6:30PM

Saturday, September 22:

Trade Mart Grand Pavillion at Dallas Market Center, Sally Field presents her new memoir, IN PIECES, 7PM

Denton
Tom's Daiquiri, literary event with the staff of American Literary Review: Rapid Fire, 6PM

El Paso
Memorial Park Public Library, Tumblewords Project workshop: "Falling into Winter" with Mónica Gómez, 12:45PM

Galveston
Galveston Bookshop, Kimber Fountain signing Galveston’s Red Light District: A History of the Line, 2PM

Greenville
The Wind, the Willows Bookstore, C Derick Miller book signing, 10AM

Houston

Brazos Bookstore, Mike Brooks discussing and signing TECH GENERATION, 7PM

Half Price Books - Clear Lake, Local Author Saturdays: Meet local Indie authors and pick up their latest release, while supplies last

Kaboom Books, An Evening of Poetry, Music & Art with Mong-Lan, 7PM

Murder By the Book, Joseph M. Schreiber will sign and discuss Ghosts of the Mid-Country, 4:30PM


Gemini Ink, Literary Café: “Pitch Frenzy” with seasoned literary agent Ann Collette, 10AM

La Botánica, release party for NWA Zine: How Do You Feel, 7PM


Dallas
Half Price Books Mother Ship, local author Mark Stuertz will sell and sign Secret Dallas: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure, and local author Michelle Rene will sell and sign Hour Glass, 1PM

Fort Worth
Monkey and Dog Books, author signing with Josh Funk, 1PM

Frisco
B&N - Stonebriar, The Last Kids on Earth and the Cosmic Beyond book signing with Mark Brallier, 2PM



Thursday, September 13, 2018

Review: AN OCEAN OF MINUTES by Thea Lim

I reviewed An Ocean of Minutes: A Novel (Touchstone Books) by Thea Lim for Lone Star Literary Life. Lim is a graduate of the University of Houston - Creative Writing Program and a former editor at Gulf Coast Journal. "An Ocean of Minutes is an impressive debut about the privilege of autonomy, the duality of hope, and both the power and the limits of love."

SCIENCE FICTION
Thea Lim
An Ocean of Minutes: A Novel
Touchstone Books
Hardcover, 978-1-5011-9255-5 (also available as an e-book and an audiobook), 320 pgs., $26.00
July 10, 2018

Frank and Polly are falling in varying degrees of love. Winter is awfully cold in Buffalo, New York so the two take off on a lark for climes South, missing the interchange for New Orleans and washing up in Galveston. When the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) loses control of a virulent flu virus, the resulting pandemic traps Frank and Polly in Texas as the government attempts to contain the contagion.

When Frank falls ill without health insurance, forcing previously unthinkable choices, Polly signs on with the Rebuild America Time Travel Initiative to secure the treatment Frank needs. “There is no flu in 2002.” “Travel to the future and rebuild America.” She and Frank arrange a time and place to meet in the future when he is well again.

But Polly is rerouted and emerges into a dystopian future five years later than agreed, where the pandemic and attempts to protect against it have destroyed societal norms, rearranged international borders, deepened the chasm between socio-economic divisions, and nature is inexorably reclaiming the folly of human industry and infrastructure. Polly must try to find Frank while serving out her bond to TimeRaiser, the corporation that paid for her time travel and Frank’s healthcare.

An Ocean of Minutes: A Novel is the first book from Thea Lim, a graduate of the University of Houston’s renown creative writing program. Her work has appeared in The Southampton Review, The Guardian, Salon, and The Millions, among other outlets, and she is a former nonfiction editor at Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts. An Ocean of Minutes is an impressive debut about the privilege of autonomy, the duality of hope, and both the power and the limits of love.

Lim provides richly detailed families and backstories for Frank and Polly, both well developed and compelling characters. Third-person narrations trade points-of-view, moving back and forth through time, offering representative vignettes and instructive memories, clues to the story of Frank and Polly, which is sweet without being sappy and intimate without being awkward.

“Look at me. I’m not like them!” Polly insists, then she begins to cry from “shame that she had said such a thing, and out of fear that she had to.” Lim immerses us in Polly’s overwhelming powerlessness and makes us consider the nature of time and the dangerous delusions of nostalgia. “We’re getting the past back, but better. It will be the way we like to remember it instead of the way it was,” Polly’s boss tells her. “People will pay anything for that.”

The characters in An Ocean Minutes are well-meaning, ordinary people making desperate choices under extraordinary circumstances in an alien America. Technically, Lim’s work is classified as science fiction, but the only thing far-fetched about An Ocean of Minutes is the time travel.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Monday Roundup: TEXAS LITERARY CALENDAR September 10-16, 2018

Bookish goings-on in Texas for the week of September 10-16, 2018: 

Special Events:
Heritage Auctions: Rare Books & Maps, Dallas, September 13

Texas Word Wrangler Festival, Giddings, September 13-15

Literacy Instruction for Texas presents Toast to Literacy, Dallas, September 14

Jaipur Literature Festival, Houston, September 14-15

Picture Book Retreat for Authors & Illustrators, Temple, September 14-16

Ongoing Exhibits:

The Texas Liberator: Witness to the Holocaust exhibition (from the book The Texas Liberators: Veteran Narratives from World War II), Houston, September 7-October 28
Houston
Brazos Bookstore, Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin, & Giovanni Regano reading & signing ILLEGAL, 7PM

Murder By the Book, William Kent Krueger will sign and discuss Desolation Mountain, 6:30PM

Tuesday, September 11:

Houston
Blue Willow Bookstore, Mac Barnett will discuss and sign MAC UNDERCOVER, 5PM

Brazos Bookstore, Randy Kennedy reading and signing PRESIDIO, 7PM

Congregation Emanu El, Preservation Houston's History in Print author series presents architect and architectural photographer Bronson Dorsey discussing his new book, Lost, Texas: Photographs of Forgotten Buildings, 6:30PM

Warehouse Live, The Moth Houston StorySLAM presents "Education," 7:30PM

San Antonio

Houston
Avant Garden, Write about Now Poetry Open Mic featuring Travis Snell, 7:30PM

Brazos Bookstore, Sarah Bird reading and signing DAUGHTER OF A DAUGHTER OF A QUEEN, 7PM

River Oaks Bookstore, Mimi Swartz discussing and signing Ticker: The Quest to Create an Artificial Heart, 5PM

World Affairs Council of Greater Houston, Diana Untermeyer discussing Qatar: Land, Sea and Sky, 6PM

San Antonio
UIW Concert Hall, Distinguished Speakers Series presents Anthony Graves, an exonerated Texas Death Row prisoner and author of Infinite Hope: How Wrongful Conviction, Solitary Confinement, and 12 Years on Death Row Failed to Kill My Soul, 7PM

Thursday, September 13:
Austin
Deep Vellum Books, Dr. Mike Brooks discussing and signing Tech Generation:Raising Balanced Kids in a Hyper-Connected World, 7PM

Half Price Books Mother Ship, Leslie F. Halleck will discuss and sign her new book, Gardening Under Lights: The Complete Guide for Indoor Growers, 7PM

Interabang Books, Timothy Krause discussing and signing FINDING THEO, 7PM

Houston

Rice U - Fondren Library, "Feminism, Production, and Reproduction:" A free public lecture delivered by Elissa Braunstein, co-editor of Feminist Economics, 4PM

Friday, September 14:
BookPeople, GARY SHTEYNGART speaking and signing Lake Success, 7PM [ticketed event]

Malvern Books, Borderless: Conversations on Art, Action, and Justice with Rinku Sen, author of The Accidental American and Stir It Up: Lessons on Community Organizing, 7PM

Dallas
Deep Vellum Books, Launch Party for Fangoria Presents: Our Lady of the Inferno, 7PM

Heroes Lounge, Dallas Poetry Society hosts Girls Night Out - Poetry Night, 8PM

Interabang Books, Sam Wyly discussing and signing DALLAS GOT IT RIGHT, 1PM
Houston
The Ballroom at Bayou Place, DeRay Mckesson discussing ON THE OTHER SIDE OF FREEDOM, 7:30PM

Saturday, September 15:

El Paso
B&N - Sunland Park, Fort Bliss, Texas signing with John Hamilton, 2PM
Houston



Dead Tree Books, Lynn Maverick Denzer signing Old Villita and La Villita Continues, 2PM

The Twig Book Shop, Melissa and Jim Riche signing Mod Mirage: The Midcentury Architecture of Rancho Mirage, 11AM

Southlake
B&N - Town Square, Jon Finkel signing The Athlete: Greatness, Grace and the Unprecedented Life of Charlie Ward, 1PM

Sugar Land
Half Price Books, local author R.R. Born will sell and sign her fantasy book, May Day: A Gray Witch Novel, 1PM

Tomball
Tejas Chocolate & Barbecue, Wyatt McSpadden signing TEXAS BBQ: Small Town to Downtown, 11AM

Sunday, September 16:
Half Price Books - Mother Ship, local author Steve Kravetz will sell and sign his novel, A Marijuana Man: A Dealer's Diary, 1PM

San Antonio
Dead Tree Books, R.W. Beckett signing his poetry collection, Soliloquy, 2PM

Landa Library, Author Visit: Gabriela Gonzalez, PhD, presents Redeeming La Raza: Transborder Modernity, Race, Respectability, and Rights, 3PM

The Twig Book Shop, 2019 Texas Poetry Calendar at The Twig, 6PM