Wednesday, October 6, 2010

More spooky Texas tales

Storytellers Tim Tingle and Doc Moore are back, just in time for Halloween, with More Spooky Texas Tales (Texas Tech University Press, $18.95 hardcover).

Tingle and Moore teamed up on two other books from Texas Tech Press – Spooky Texas Tales (also for young readers) and Texas Ghost Stories: Fifty Favorites for the Telling.In More Spooky Texas Tales they relate 10 stories, including:

“Skinwalker” – a man picks up a hitchhiker only to discover that his passenger is not human.

“The Chupacabra and Berto” – a bloodthirsty creature haunts the Valley, and a grandson wanders off the ranch.

“Screaming Banshee Cattle of the Night Swamp” involves fang-bearing cattle in the swamps near Orange, Texas.

“Mary Culhaine” – a girl has to give a graveyard creature a piggyback ride to town and is offered a bowl of bloody oatmeal to eat.

Tingle and Moore perform at schools and libraries, telling and collecting stories. Several of the stories in the book were first told to them by students.

HOME FRONT: Sylvia Dickey Smith’s novel, A War of Her Own (Crickhollow Books, $16.95 ), is set in the summer of 1943 in Orange.

The story features Bea Meade, a young mother whose no-good husband announces he is leaving her for another woman. To support her infant son, she takes a job as a riveter at the shipyards.

It truly is a war of her own for Bea, who has to come to grips with mysteries from her past while fighting prejudice against women in the workplace and other personal and social challenges.

AN AUTHOR’S YEAR: Susan Wittig Albert is the author of the popular China Bayles mysteries, which always have the name of an herb in the title, as well as numerous other books.

Now she tells about a year in the life of an author in An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days (University of Texas Press, $24.95 hardcover). The year was 2008, a year of financial crises and political change, and she includes various news developments and her reaction to them.

Basically, it is a daily diary by a very talented writer who is willing to share her private thoughts publicly.

She also includes in the margins a lot of food for thought from other writers and sources in quotations that she has collected.

Her days may have been ordinary, but certainly the year wasn’t, nor is her writing about it.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

New Texas photo books on football, baseball, music

The University of Texas Press has released three new oversized photography books this fall paying tribute to Texas high school football stadiums, the best little semipro baseball team in Texas, and the popular TV music series, Austin City Limits.

The books are:

Homefield: Texas High School Football Stadiums from Alice to Zephyr by Jeff Wilson (foreword by Buzz Bissinger, text compiled by Bobby Hawthorne), $39.95.

The Amazing Tale of Mr. Herbert and His Famous Alpine Cowboys Baseball Club by DJ Stout, $34.95.

Austin City Limits: 35 Years in Photographs by Scott Newton, $40.

FOOTBALL: Jeff Wilson presents more than 80 photographs of empty high school football fields, all taken from the 50 yard line facing the home side of the stadium. The fields range in size from tiny Veribest (pictured on the cover) and Penelope to huge stadiums like Alamo Stadium in San Antonio and Ratliff Stadium in Odessa.

“The promise of an empty football field,” Wilson writes, “is an irresistible force for those who understand and revere the game. It represents a blank canvas begging to be painted with the varied sights and sounds of youthful action and enthusiasm.”

Accompanying some of the photographs are brief comments by residents who coached, played, announced, or cheered for their team on Friday nights. The book grew out of a photo essay published in Texas Monthly in 2005.

BASEBALL: After World War II, minor league and semi-pro baseball reached new heights of popularity. And nowhere was a team more popular than the Alpine Cowboys.

Wealthy rancher Herbert Kokernot Jr. took ownership of the struggling Alpine team in 1946, changed the name to the Alpine Cowboys, built a dream ballpark called Kokernot Field, and outfitted his players in the most fashionable uniforms. The team won regional tournaments as well as the hearts of their fans and praise from around the country.

DJ Stout of Austin, whose father pitched for the Cowboys, has put together a coffee table book full of vintage black-and-white photos, comments by team members, and a year-by-year recounting of the 1946-1961 teams.

MUSIC: Fans of the Austin City Limits TV show will no doubt enjoy reliving the appearances of the great stars who have performed on stage in the show’s 35-year history.

Scott Newton, the show’s photographer for 31 years beginning in 1979, chronicles the appearances of 80 of the best-known performers and bands. Beginning and ending with Willie Nelson, the rest of the artists are presented in two-page spreads alphabetically rather than chronologically, since some have performed on Austin City Limits more than once.

To name just a few: Garth Brooks, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Dixie Chicks, Norah Jones, B. B. King, Lyle Lovett, Dolly Parton, Keith Urban, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Glenn Dromgoole writes about Texas books and authors. Contact him at