Daily Arts
Show Your Library Some Love
The Austin Public Library Foundation is a nonprofit that raises private funds to "help support and strengthen Austin's public libraries" – with priority number one being the proposed breaking-ground of a new Downtown library by winter 2011, with an eye toward opening in spring/summer of 2014. But multi-million dollar Central libraries that overlook Lady Bird Lake don't just build themselves, and that's where you come in. This weekend, APFL and new executive director Tim Staley host the annual fundraiser Texas Tales, and they've got a lovely-sounding evening at the Mexican American Cultural Center planned. Supper, sweets, and "Texas-inspired libations" (which we assume does not a six-pack of Lone Star per paying customer?) will accompany an evening of music by Jon Dee Graham, with an appearance by author Joe Nick Patoski and the emcee stylings of KVUE anchor Olga Campos. Tickets to the Saturday night event run $125; that includes a signed copy of Patoski's new book Willie Nelson: An Epic Life. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit the APFL's site here.

12:29PM Wed. Jun. 25, 2008, Kimberley Jones Read More | Comment »

Their Eyes Were Watching Wright
Austin author, Pulitzer Prize-winner, and terrorism expert Lawrence Wright (The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11) was interviewed in this past weekend's This American Life episode for a piece called "The Spy Who Bugged Me," in which Wright details, quite chillingly, how he discovered that his phone had been tapped under the Terrorist Surveillance Act. Information on how to sign up for the free podcast can be found here.

12:17PM Wed. Jun. 18, 2008, Kimberley Jones Read More | Comment »

'And Then the Feeling Fades Away/ But You Sort of Wish It Would Have Stayed'
The New York Times' Books blog, Paper Cuts, has a recurring thread called "Living With Music," in which authors write about their perfect playlists. I was thinking about this as I set down to blog about The Black Cab Sessions, the site where musicians like St. Vincent, Spoon, and Daniel Johnston can be seen singing a single song in a taxi cab as it roams the streets of London. I'd wandered onto the site because, after months of not listening to Bon Iver at all, I suddenly had to watch everything the Internet had to offer of him (Bon Iver is the recording name of singer/songwriter Justin Vernon; Darcie Stevens wrote about him in relation to licensing here). I hadn't stopped listening to Bon Iver on purpose – I'd just sort of forgot. Moved onto newer loves. You know what it's like – when you get crazy-obsessed with a song (like "Skinny Love"), and you just wanna curl up in the sound and stay there forever. And then a week passes, or a month, and you sort of forget. You caught a bug for a while, and then you got better – or worse, depending on your point of view. I don't think I'm alone in that I feel best, my most ragged and alive, when caught in the clutches of something or someone else.

4:28PM Wed. Jun. 11, 2008, Kimberley Jones Read More | Comment »

The Language Expands, and the Heart of a Crank Contracts
We haven't had a chance yet to look at local author Paul JJ Payack's A Million Words and Counting: How Global English Is Rewriting the World (published May 1 by Citadel), but we did spend some time bumming around his popular website LanguageMonitor.com. The site tracks buzzwords from realms political, pop cultural, and tech, as well as announces any new additions to the lexicon. According to the countdown clock, we're only 4,156 words away from hitting the million-word mark in the English language. The latest to be codified?

1:42PM Tue. Jun. 10, 2008, Kimberley Jones Read More | Comment »

Astonishingly Easy Access to Agents and Editors
Shopping a book? Thinking about shopping a book? Thinking about someday writing a book that maybe eventually you might want to shop? Then you might want to take advantage of the 2008 Writers' League of Texas Agents & Editors Conference. It's the largest publishing conference in Texas (now in its 15th year of operation), with more than 400 authors, agents, and editors in attendance – including 23 different literary agencies and a whole host of media contacts, too – all eager to drop some knowledge on you about how to get your book out of the desk drawer and into the world at large. Preregistration is required to attend the conference, which runs June 20-22 at the Sheraton Austin Hotel (701 E. 11th St.). Registration's a bit pricey – $354 – but Writers' League members get a break at $309 (further incentive to join organization). Wanna know more? Check out writersleague.org. The conference schedule's already up online – panel topics include book promotion, buzz-building, revisions, and industry trends; other highlights include pitching sessions and a keynote address by Publishers Weekly Editor in Chief Sara Nelson.

12:21PM Tue. Jun. 10, 2008, Kimberley Jones Read More | Comment »

Dispatch From the Land of the Deranged
What do John Hagee's "Christian Zionist" San Antonio megachurch, 9/11 Truthers, and the U.S. Congress -- notably, among them, Texas Rep. Joe Barton, R-Arlington, have in common? Narcissism, for sure, and certainly a most unhealthy penchant for intellectual dishonesty. As a group, to Rolling Stone reporter and author Matt Taibbi, the triad are more alike than not, and together perfectly illustrative of the Great Derangement. The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire, is Taibbi's latest election-year offering, exploring how the absence of a "commonly accepted set" of facts has splintered the American psyche, leaving it adrift, primed to believe even the most unbelievable -- like President George W. Bush's post-9/11 "conclusion" that we were attacked because the terrorists hate "our freedoms." Please. Is there any doubt we're seriously deranged? In Taibbi's estimation, the answer is clear: We're fucked up. And in this latest book, he sets out to prove just that.

10:48AM Thu. Jun. 5, 2008, Jordan Smith Read More | Comment »

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Book Expo America: Essentials for Father's Day
I suppose it says a lot about the changes in my life that while at Book Expo America trying to talk the world into buying my novel Evacuation Plan the celebrity author I was most excited to meet was David Shannon. If you haven't heard of Shannon, aka Diaper David, then you don't have a young child. In the diaper through kindergarten set, Shannon's series of crudely drawn (on purpose) Diaper David books has the cult-like status of Harry Potter.
Shannon, already a respected children's illustrator, got the idea for the books when his mother sent him a self-portrait he drew at the age of 5. Thus was born Diaper David, who makes messes, resists naps and is generally lovable. My son Nicholas latched on to the first of the books and we now own the full set, plus another book about Shannon's real-life dog Fergus, who is also Diaper David's pooch.

10:40AM Wed. Jun. 4, 2008, Joe O'Connell Read More | Comment »

Book Expo America: Where Books Go to Party
My feet are still recovering from tromping around one of the world's largest book industry gatherings, Book Expo America. Everyone says this year's Los Angeles event wasn't near as crowded as last year's in New York City (naturally, since NYC is ground zero of the publishing industry), but, as I arrived to hawk my novel Evacuation Plan at my publisher's booth, I was thrown into a sea of booksellers, Dr. Ruth, publishers, Kevin Nealon, librarians, Cheech Marin, publicists, Arianna Huffington, authors and vacuum cleaner salesmen?

11:21AM Tue. Jun. 3, 2008, Joe O'Connell Read More | Comment »

Dagoberto and the Downtown Book Club
For its inaugural Downtown Book Club at the Faulk Central Library, the Austin Public Library is one-upping your garden-variety book club by inviting the actual author to attend and engage in the conversation. With a lesser book, one might worry about the mix (awkward much?), but the book – The Flowers – is highly acclaimed – and the author – Dagoberto Gilb – is already an Austin institution. Here's some of what the Chron's Belinda Acosta had to say when The Flowers came out in February: "From the first measured words of Dagoberto Gilb's new novel to its final, heart-wrenching exclamation, Gilb takes readers through a journey that is both startling and inevitable... [Gilb] writes with enormous acuity, heart, and, most importantly, a deep respect for even the most unsavory of his characters and their deeds." The Downtown Book Club convenes Monday, June 2, at 7pm at the Faulk Central Library (800 Guadalupe St.). More info can be had by going here or by calling 512-974-7400.

5:15PM Wed. May 28, 2008, Kimberley Jones Read More | Comment »

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