How Austin proves that Harry Potter still has power

Harry Potter & the Cursed Child Midnight Release Party on Saturday, July 30 2016.  Erika Rich for American-Statesman
Harry Potter & the Cursed Child Midnight Release Party on Saturday, July 30 2016.
Erika Rich for American-Statesman

Now that we’ve had a few days to recover from the shock of actually receiving a new “Harry Potter” book – and to finish reading it and digest that wondrous plot – we can conclude that, after all these years, the Harry Potter series is still beloved.

At the midnight release party BookPeople threw Saturday for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” about 2,000 people showed up to celebrate the bespectacled wizard and his new adventure. That’s a considerable turnout given that we all thought we’d officially hung up our wizards’ robes for such a party many years ago.

» See more photos from BookPeople’s midnight release party for “The Cursed Child”

BookPeople’s marketing director, Abby Fennewald, said Tuesday evening that the response to the book “was probably higher than we originally anticipated.” The Austin bookstore sold about 75 percent as many copies of “The Cursed Child” at this party as compared to previous midnight release parties, she said; “We’ve already sold over 1,000 copies.”

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” is a book in script form about Harry and his troubled son, Albus. (The play is currently in production at London’s West End.) Despite the different format from the previous novels, anxiously waiting Muggles appeared in droves at BookPeople and at Barnes & Noble as well for the release. BookPeople dusted off its old Diagon Alley set and had a variety of magical activities for attendees, including a costume contest, a House Cup Tournament, trivia and wizard dueling.

Harry Potter & the Cursed Child Midnight Release Party on Saturday, July 30 2016.  Erika Rich for American-Statesman
Harry Potter & the Cursed Child Midnight Release Party on Saturday, July 30 2016.
Erika Rich for American-Statesman

And the food trucks joining the fun in the parking lot also didn’t miss out on the theme: Amy’s Ice Creams, for one, was serving up three wizard-worthy flavors, including butterbeer, Gryffindor’s Tower with red velvet and Dementor’s Cloud with dark chocolate. The line to get butterbeer in drink form at another trailer was also long.

Chatter all around BookPeople’s “Harry Potter” party reflected how happy everyone was to be back together, costumed in their finest Hogwarts’ wizard robes. Kids were there, sure, but the majority of the crowd congregating from 10 p.m. to midnight were the original “Harry Potter” fans, now in their 20s, 30s and beyond.

And for BookPeople, all those enthusiastic fans meant the party was a rousing success.

Has “Cursed Child” turned out to be a worthy follow-up to the original story? Let us know in the comments. And don’t forget to check out our photo gallery chronicling the “Harry Potter” party at BookPeople.

Did you embrace ‘Harry Potter’ midnight madness? We want your photos

Family hand out photo of Claudine Lucena, center, dressed as a character from "Harry Potter" with unidentified friends who are also dressed as students from the book and movie series, "Harry Potter." CREDIT: Courtesy of Claudine Lucena. Received 11/15/10 for 1116pottercollege.
Claudine Lucena, center, dressed as a character from “Harry Potter” with unidentified friends who are also dressed as students from the book and movie series, “Harry Potter.” 

Have you ever waited in a theater for hours for the newest Harry Potter film to debut? Did you and your friends attend midnight book releases as a gaggle of Gryffindors? Were you there when they opened the gates to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? We want to see those photos!

While we wait for the release of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” on Sunday, we want to relive the magical moments from previous midnight countdowns. Send your costumed or crazed Harry Potter fandom photos to, and we’ll gather the best ones for a gallery of witchcraft and wizardry.

Feeling nostalgic now? Dust off your wand and get to BookPeople on Saturday night at 10 p.m. for their midnight book release party.

Raja Rao archive donated to UT’s Ransom Center

3/13/97 Photo Tom Lankes     Morris story     RAJA RAO,88-year-old literary scholar and former UT Professor, will be the subject of an upcoming symposium at UT-Asian Studies.
3/13/97 Photo Tom Lankes Morris story RAJA RAO,88-year-old literary scholar and former UT Professor, will be the subject of an upcoming symposium at UT-Asian Studies.

The estate of Raja Rao has donated the archive of the late author and philosopher to the Ransom Center at the University of Texas. It’s a notable acquisition in part because Rao is widely considered to have been one of India’s most noted authors, having received the Neustadt International Prize for Literature and other honors.

Rao taught philosophy at the University of Texas from 1966 to 1980. His stint at UT began after he visited Austin in the early 1960s to lecture on philosophy, invited by Texas Dean John Silber. The lectures were so successful that UT’s philosophy department hired him in 1966.

Rao wrote many works of fiction, short stories, poems and essays. His fiction included “Kanthapura” (1938), which dealt with nonviolent resistance in a southern Indian village; “The Serpent and the Rope” (1960); and “The Chessmaster and His Moves” (1988). In 1964, The New York Times called him “perhaps the most brilliant – and certainly the most interesting – writer of modern India.”

He also wrote “The Great Indian Way: A Life of Mahatma Gandhi” (1988), about Gandhi’s time in South Africa.

The archive includes his manuscripts and other materials, including unpublished works, and will be available to researchers once processed and cataloged.

Rao, who died in 2006, was born in southern India in 1908 and earned his bachelor’s degree at Madras University. He did postgraduate studies in literature and history at the University of Montpellier and at the Sorbonne, and his archive contains materials in various languages. He knew Jawaharlal Nehru, a leader of the Indian Independence Movement, and lived at Gandhi’s ashram in the 1940s.

In 1964, he won the Indian National Academy of Letters’ Sahitya Akademi Award for Literature for the “The Serpent and the Rope.” He received the Padma Bhushan Award – one of India’s highest awards for literature — in 1969. And in 1988, he won the Neustadt International Prize for Literature.

Rao retired from teaching in 1980, and afterward, he rose each morning at 6:30 to meditate and walk the hike-and-bike trail.

“It was one of the most joyous times in our life, ” his wife, Susan Rao, told the American-Statesman shortly after his death. “He would talk about Indian philosophy and just enjoy nature. We’d be walking along, and suddenly he’d stop and he’d go, ‘Susan, stop, look at that shadow on the trail; it’s so beautiful! Look, the trees are blowing, it’s like they’re waving at us.’ And he would talk to trees, and he would actually hear answers back. (Once) he told a tree that he was a Brahmin — he was very, very proud of being of the Brahmin caste in India, which was the priestly caste — and the tree told him back, ‘Yes, we’ve known about them for 4,000 years.’ ”

It’s official: Noah Hawley’s ‘Before the Fall’ is a hit

Noah Hawley, the Austin resident and creator of the Fargo TV series, who has a new thriller, Before the Fall, photographed at the South Congress Hotel on May 6, 2016.  Erika Rich for American-Statesman
Noah Hawley, the Austin resident and creator of the Fargo TV series, who has a new thriller, Before the Fall, photographed at the South Congress Hotel on May 6, 2016.
Erika Rich for American-Statesman

Many critics who read Austin resident Noah Hawley’s new thriller, “Before the Fall,” predicted that it would be one of the summer’s biggest hits.

This week, The New York Times best-seller list puts Hawley’s book at No. 2 in the nation for fiction, just behind “The Emperor’s Revenge,” by Clive Cussler and Boyd Morrison.

The rankings are based on sales that ended June 4 at thousands of venues where general interest books are sold.

We profiled Hawley recently and discussed his new book, which tracks a media firestorm after the crash of a private jet bound from Martha’s Vineyard to New York City.

Hawley spent the past weekend in Austin, wrapping up his book tour and participating in the ATX Television Festival.

Gwynne’s ‘Perfect Pass,’ Lowry’s yogurt shop tale due this fall



Two more Austin authors have new books coming out this fall that should be high on our radar.

The first is from S.C. Gwynne, the author of “Rebel Yell” and “Empire of the Summer Moon.” His latest, “The Perfect Pass: American Genius and the Reinvention of Football,” will be published Sept. 20 by Scribner ($27).
It tells how Hal Mumme and Mike Leach revolutionized football by inventing “a potent passing offensive strategy that would revolutionize the game.”

Mumme, a Texas native, started the changes at Iowa Wesleyan, where he was head coach and Leach was his assistant in the late 1980s.

The other notable book: Beverly Lowry’s “Who Killed These Girls? Cold Case: The Yogurt Shop Murders.”
Published by Knopf on Oct. 11, it will sell for $26.95. As many longtime residents know, four teenage girls were killed in a yogurt shop in Austin in 1991, and the investigation lasted eight years. Two men were convicted, but they were eventually released for lack of evidence.

Lowry takes us deep inside the story.

Wands at the ready: ‘Cursed Child’ gets midnight release party at BookPeople

It’s been nine years since we’ve looked forward to one of these, Potterheads.

07-20-07 Laura Skelding AMERICAN-STATESMAN Keita Bryce, 10, sits under the Sorting Hat at the BookPoeple Harry Potter party on Friday night in Austin. Harry Potter fans celebrate the release of the last Harry Potter book by dressing up in costume and waiting until midnight for the release of the book. Judy Jones, center and Deblina Movlik, employees of BookPeople help out with the sorting hat. ORG XMIT:
Keita Bryce, 10, sits under the Sorting Hat at the BookPeople Harry Potter book release in 2007. Laura Skelding/American-Statesman.

We had given up hope that there would ever be another occasion to don our robes and wield our wands alongside others who waited years for their Hogwarts letter. But with the release of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” BookPeople is giving us that long-awaited chance.

Prepare to have the emotional range of a teaspoon as we get one more shot at a midnight book release party.

Deliriously excited teenagers (my friends and me) with fresh, unread copies of “Deathly Hallows” at midnight on July 21, 2007.

The printed version of the new play by Jack Thorne (based on an original new story by the magical J.K. Rowling) will be released to the public on July 31. Gather at BookPeople at 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 30 to celebrate and countdown to midnight, when we can finally purchase a copy, rush home and, if you’re just as sane as I am, finish it before the sun comes up.

We don’t know much about the event right now, but BookPeople is calling it a “big party.” In the past, the bookstore’s release parties have included fire dancers, a sorting ceremony and plenty of costumes. Will this one have butterbeer? A game of Quidditch? Celebrity appearances?? (A girl can dream.) We do hope there’s cake to celebrate Harry Potter & J.K. Rowling’s birthdays at midnight, too!

Rest assured, fellow fanatics, we’ll update you as details are released (because we’re too excited to keep them to ourselves). In the meantime, “Don’t let the muggles get you down.”

A Texas literary brouhaha over ‘All the Good That Remains’


A brouhaha is brewing in Austin over allegations that Central Texas author B. Mitchell Cator has plagiarized other authors with his latest novel, “All the Good That Remains.”

On June 1, I got a press release about the book, and I was feeling a bit guilty for not having read it or assigned it for review. Now I’m feeling less guilty.

The June 1 release came from the PRNewswire and said, “An extraordinary new writer of immense power and tenderness, B. Mitchell Cator has written an unforgettable novel about longing, belonging, and friendship in a rural community lodged in the barren hills of Texas, where acceptance and change are rarely welcome. His novel, titled ‘All the God That Remains,’ (Anchor Hudson, 2016) debuts today and is available from booksellers everywhere.

The release described the main character as Deke, a loner and drifter with a good heart.

The release added: “Early praise for the novel includes Mary Helen Specht, author of bestseller ‘Migratory Animals.’ Specht says the novel is “Sharply written, fantastically plotted… gripping and moving… I couldn’t put this book down.” Kirkus Reviews gave “All the Good That Remains” a starred review, which is awarded to books of exceptional merit, and said, “The author writes beautifully: The lights atop the grain elevators ‘blinked like beacons, warning some things off and beckoning other things to come.’ In a sense, that passage describes this impressive book’s plot in a nutshell.” Lone Star Literary Life said “…well-written, engrossing… there is no denying that solid storytelling has shaped this absorbing Texas novel.”

Since the plagiarism allegations, the Kirkus Reviews piece has been removed from the site, as has the piece at Lone Star Literary Life.

Texas Monthly has posted an item detailing the charges of plagiarism. If you want to read it, go here.

ICYMI: Noah Hawley, his hit book and his upcoming Austin events

Noah Hawley, the Austin resident and creator of the Fargo TV series, who has a new thriller, Before the Fall, photographed at the South Congress Hotel on May 6, 2016.  Erika Rich for American-Statesman
Noah Hawley, the Austin resident and creator of the Fargo TV series, who has a new thriller, Before the Fall, photographed at the South Congress Hotel on May 6, 2016.
Erika Rich for American-Statesman

ICYMI: I profiled Austin screenwriter and novelist Noah Hawley on Sunday. His latest is a rip-roaring thriller called “Before the Fall.” He’ll also be in Austin this weekend participating in the ATX Television Festival.
Here’s a look at his events.
• 10 a.m. June 10: A Conversation with Hawley and Beau Willimon, the creator of “House of Cards.” At Google Fiber Space, 201 Colorado St. This will also feature a book-selling event for “Before the Fall.”
• 2 p.m. June 10: Pulp Page to Small Screen: A Look at Comic Adaptations. With panelists Hawley (“Legion”), Javier Grillo-Marxuach (“The Middleman”), Brian Michael Bendis (“Powers”) and Rosemary Rodriguez (“Jessica Jones”). In the ballroom of the Intercontinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel, 701 Congress Ave.
• 10 a.m. June 11: To Adapt Is to Evolve: A Conversation Between Noah Hawley, Bryan Fuller and Graham Yost. At Google Fiber Space.
• 11:30 a.m. June 12: Viewer Discretion Advised. A panel discussion about pushing boundaries on TV, with Kurt Sutter (“Sons of Anarchy”), Jack Amiel (“The Knick”), Brian Michael Bendis (“Powers), Stacey Silverman (Universal TV) and Hawley (“Fargo”). In the ballroom of the Stephen F. Austin.
• 1 p.m. June 12: Fargo: The Music Team. A discussion among the show’s creator (Hawley), the music supervisor (Maggie Phillips) and the composer (Jeff Russo). In the ballroom at the Stephen F. Austin.

Sharon G. Flake to be keynoter at Austin’s African American Book Festival

Author Sharon G. Flake, who'll be the keynote speaker at Austin's African American Book Festival for 2016. (Photo courtesy of Sharon G. Flake)
Author Sharon G. Flake, who’ll be the keynote speaker at Austin’s African American Book Festival for 2016. (Photo courtesy of Sharon G. Flake)

Noted young adult author Sharon G. Flake will be the keynote speaker at the African American Book Festival of Austin, to be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 25 at the Carver Museum and Library.

Flake is the author of such books as “The Skin I’m In,” “Bang!” and “Pinned.” “The Skin I’m In,” which deals with a girl who is teased about her skin color and her clothing, won the John Steptoe Award for New Talent in 1999.

Flake, who was born in Philadelphia and lives in Pittsburgh, will help put the focus on young adult literature at the Austin festival, which will include music and prizes. The festival is also celebrating a decade of promoting books. Past speakers have included Leonard Pitts, Annette Gordon, Terry McMillan, Arnold Rampersad and Peniel Joseph.

ReShonda Tate Billingsley, an author and the CEO of Brown Girl Books, will lead a workshop on perfecting your pitch. The festival will also include discussions of “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates and the impact of Beyonce’s visual album “Lemonade.”

The festival is free and open to the public. The museum is located at 1165 Angelina St. For more information about the festival, visit

A guide to new and upcoming Texas-related books


The Texas literary scene is still raining books. The accompanying photo shows a few of the Texas-related tomes that are just out or on their way to bookstores soon. The list isn’t comprehensive but is based on copies I’ve received in the last few weeks. We’ll try to keep wrapping up new titles each month.

From left, the books are:

“The Eternal Party: Understanding My Dad, Larry Hagman, the TV Star America Loved to Hate,” by Kristina Hagman with Elizabeth Kaye. (Thomas Dunne Books, $26.99.) Hagman’s daughter writes about her family, including her grandmother, the Broadway star Mary “Peter Pan” Martin, and how she came to better understand her father in his final days in Dallas in late 2012. Hagman, of course, played the notorious J.R. Hagman on the classic TV show “Dallas.” But he was also known for his pot-smoking, LSD-taking and happy-go-lucky attitude – something that vanished as he begged for forgiveness from his daughter on his deathbed at a Dallas hospital. It also reveals an exchange of letters between Larry Hagman and his mother, and a terrible fight they had when Martin was living in Brazil in semi-retirement. The handwritten correspondence brought comfort to Hagman’s daughter, and it sheds a new light on a man who wasn’t hateful at all. The book’s release date is June 7.

“Soraya,” by Anis Shivani. (Black Widows Press, $15.95). This collection of sonnets from Shivani, a Houston author and critic, is described as surrealist poetry. He’s a graduate of Harvard College, and his previous books include “Anatolia and Other Stories” (2009) and “The Fifth Lash and Other Stories” (2012), both of which were longlisted for the Frank O’Connor international short story award. “Soraya” is essentially a series of 100 sonnets about love. The book was published in April.

“Hurt: The Inspiring, Untold Story of Trauma Care,” by Catherine Musemeche. (ForeEdge, $27.95). Musemeche, a pediatric surgeon and former professor of surgery at the University of Texas Medical School, looks at the advances in trauma care, based on her experiences in centers in Chicago and Houston. The publisher describes the book as “a riveting account of the multifaceted history of injury and the story of how trauma care evolved to become the sophisticated, effective system that it is today.” The book will be published in early September.

“News of the World,” by Paulette Jiles. (William Morrow, $22.99). The author, who lives on a ranch near San Antonio, will be touring extensively in Texas when this novel comes out in early October. It takes place just after the Civil War and deals with a former captain, Jefferson Kyle Kidd, who performs readings of newspapers in North Texas to a paying audience that’s hungry for news of the world. But things begin to change when he accepts a new job: Deliver a young orphan in Wichita Falls to relatives in San Antonio – a dangerous trip through unsettled territory.

“T Bone Burnett: A Life in Pursuit,” by Lloyd Sachs. (University of Texas Press, $26.95). Although born in Missouri, Burnett grew up in Fort Worth, so Texas still claims him, despite his current residence in Nashville. So it’s appropriate that the University of Texas Press is publishing the first critical appreciation of Burnett’s contributions to American music. Sachs tracks Burnett’s early days with Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue; his collaboration with playwright Sam Shepard; his work with the Coen Brothers; his studio work with such artists as Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, Los Lobos and Elvis Costello; and his musical compositions for such TV shows as “Nashville” and “True Detective.” This book should resonate with Austin readers and musicians, and it’s due in October.

“How to Be a Texan,” by Andrea Valdez. (University of Texas Press, $21.95). Valdez is a native Houstonian who has worked for Texas Monthly since 2006, where she edits She’s written a sly, lighthearted look at things you should do if you want to act and talk like a Texan. She offers tips on how to take a bluebonnet photo, how to learn the two-step and must-visit spots around the state. The book was published in May.

“Prepare to Defend Yourself… How to Age Gracefully & Escape With Your Dignity,” by Matthew Minson. (Texas A&M University Press, $28.) Minson, an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Texas A&M School of Public Health, tells us how to have fun after 50, even though our bodies are undergoing dramatic changes. A&M says the book “takes on health, finances, sex, diet, exercise, death, the law and what you can do to protect what matters most as you age.” The book was published in May.

“Keeping Austin Weird,” by Red Wassenich, with illustrations by Penny Van Horn. (Schiffer Publishing, $24.99). Yep, Austin has a lot of weird stuff going on, and Wassenich offers his guide to such matters in this book that’s heavy on photos and illustrations. Chapters are devoted to weird places, weird people, weird art and other weird topics. In case you’re wondering, the weird people include Carl Hickerson, the perennial flower-seller and City Council candidate; Ginny Agnew and Nancy Toelle, who have sat on the shore of Lady Bird Lake off and on since 2010, holding a sign that offers free advice; Ben Sargent, the former American-Statesman cartoonist who operates a letterpress in a building next to his home; and American-Statesman columnist John Kelso, who specializes in weirdness, too. The book was published in April.

“The Strange Career of William Ellis: The Texas Slave Who Became a Mexican Millionaire,” by Karl Jacoby. (W.W. Norton & Company, $27.95). Jacoby, a professor of history at Columbia University, tracks the life of William Ellis, who was born a slave on a Texas cotton plantation but eventually assumed a new identity as Mexican Guillermo Eliseo, who went on to own a luxury apartment building overlooking New York City’s Central Park. It’s a fascinating tell of who one man navigates racial codes and convinced many that he was Hispanic. The book will be available June 14.

“Moscow Nights: The Van Cliburn Story – How One Man and His Piano Transformed the Cold War,” by Nigel Cliff. (Harper, $28.99). Most people in Texas are familiar with the story of Van Cliburn and his legendary trip to Moscow to compete in the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958. The Soviets didn’t want Cliburn to win the competition, of course, but the Texan captivated the nation, going on to become an ambassador of hope between the two superpowers. Cliff is a London-based writer, and his book will be available in September.

“Before We Visit the Goddess,” by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. (Simon & Schuster, $25). I’m currently working on a review of this novel by Houston author Divakaruni. She’s the McDavid professor of creative writing at the University of Houston, and she’s one of my favorite recent discoveries. “Before We Visit the Goddess” is full of different voices, going back and forth in time, with beautifully written chapters that could stand on their own as short stories but add layer upon layer of complication, wonder, humanity and empathy when joined together. The novel tracks the lives of three generations of Indian women, the oldest of whom, Sabitri, establishes a famous bakery back in India. Then there’s her daughter, the rebellious Bela, who runs away from home to marry a young man who’s living in California. And then there’s Bela’s daughter, Tara, a troubled soul who blames her mother for her parents’ divorce. Look for an expanded review in the American-Statesman this month.

“The Terror Years: From al-Qaeda to the Islamic State,” by Lawrence Wright. (Alfred A. Knopf, $28.95). I’ve mentioned this book, which is slated for August publication, before. I’m about halfway through it, and it’s easily one of the most enlightening analyses of the current rise of terrorism in the Middle East. Wright, the Austin-based Pulitzer winner, originally wrote much of this book as articles in The New Yorker, but he updates those pieces with new developments and offers a trenchant look at one of the biggest threats of our age. Look for a review of the book in August in the American-Statesman.

“Welcome to the Poisoned Chalice: The Destruction of Greece and the Future of Europe,” by James K. Galbraith. I’ve read most of this book, and it’s impressive in its understanding and revelations about the Greek fiscal crisis – and the problems with European unity. Galbraith holds the Lloyd M. Bentsen Chair in Government/Business Relations at the University of Texas, and he has been a key adviser to former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis. Galbraith says the Greek situation is “economic policy as moral abomination.” The book will be available this month.

“Indeh: The Story of the Apache Wars,” by Ethan Hawke and Greg Ruth. (Grand Central Publishing, $25). Austin native and noted actor Hawke teams up with illustrator Ruth to tell the story of Geronimo in this graphic novel. It’s set in 1872, amid the devastation of the Apache nation, and the young Geronimo, who’s known as Goyahkla. The book will be published June 7.

“The Boys of Summer,” by Richard Cox. (Night Shade Books, $15.99). This novel from Oklahoma writer Cox is set in 1979, when a tornado devastates Wichita Falls and leaves scores dead. Among the survivors is 9-year-old Todd Willis. But for four years, he’s in a coma, and when he wakes, things are drastically changed. The novel then leaps 25 years into the future, when Willis is an adult and reflects on that life-changer summer. The book will be available in September.

“A Cloud of Unusual Size and Shape,” by Matt Donovan. (Trinity University Press, $17.95). This book of essays from the co-chair of the creative writing and literature department at Santa Fe University of Art and Design, was published by San Antonio’s Trinity University Press. It’s not Texas-focused, however. Instead, much of the book reflects on Donovan’s thoughts about the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D., which buried Pompeii under 20 feet of ash. He then turns to other clouds – those that rose above Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Trinity says that “the redemptive power of beauty permeates this spectacular work, reminding us that darkness and light make an inextricable pattern in our lives. The book was published in April.

“Terminated for Reasons of Taste,” by Chuck Eddy. (Duke University Press, $26.95). Eddy, an Austin-based music journalist, looks at the losers of rock ‘n’ roll, in part because he has issues with history being written by the winners. He includes much writing about winners, such as the Beastie Boys, Taylor Swift and Bruce Springsteen, but he also acknowledges his “appreciation of the lost, ignored and maligned,” and in doing so, he offers a multidimensional portrait of pop music. The book is scheduled to be published in September.

“The Red River Bridge War: A Texas-Oklahoma Border Battle,” by Rusty Williams. (Texas A&M University Press, $29.95.) Williams, a longtime Texas journalist, delves into the two-week war between Texas and Oklahoma in the summer of 1931, when the states rallied to arms over an old toll bridge across the Red River. As Williams describes it, the incident featured “National Guardsmen with field artillery, Texas Rangers with itchy trigger fingers, angry mobs, Model T blockade runners, and even a Native American peace delegation.” The book was published in May.

“The Turbulent Trail,” by Mike Thompson. (Five Star, $25.95). This novel from San Angelo writer Thompson focuses on a guy named Charlie Deegan, who was once an Army sharpshooter but has landed in Yuma Territorial Prison. He eventually escapes and becomes a cowboy in this historical western. The book was published in May.

“Birds in Trouble,”
by Lynn E. Barber. (Texas A&M University Press, $29.95.) This isn’t technically a Texas book, but since a state university published it – and since the issues raised span the nation – it seems appropriate to include. Barber, Alaska’s noted birder, decided to write this book after the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, in an attempt to explain the plight of bird species that are declining each year. She focuses on habitats, and how changes to those natural areas have a huge impact on the survival of birds. The book includes lots of Barber illustrations of various species. “Birds in Trouble” was published in April.

“Morgue: A Life in Death,” by Vincent Di Maio and Ron Franscell. (St. Martin’s Press, $26.99). Di Maio is the former chairman of the Texas Forensic Science Commission, and Franscell is a longtime reporter. And the two team up for this behind-the-scenes look at how evidence and pathology play a role on the witness stand. The book was published in May.