Has anyone ever told you that theyâ€™d be gone for â€œthe durationâ€? Meaning: who the heck knows how long? Thatâ€™s the linchpin of Austin writer Carolyn Osbornâ€™s new memoir, titled â€œDurationsâ€ (Wings Press, $16.95 ). As a young child early in WWII, Osbornâ€™s father, an artillery officer, sent the family home from a California army base for the duration, which turned out to be span when a lot happened, like mom getting sent to the state mental hospital for schizophrenia. Recipient of the 2009 Lon Tinkle Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Texas Institute of Letters, Osborn is a wise and honest writer whose voice is truly comforting.
Cinco Puntos, the hardest working little press in West Texas, has two stellar books in its fall lineup: â€œThe Last Cigarette on Earthâ€ (Cinco Puntos, $15.95) by the inestimable Benjamin Alire SÃ¡enz, and a mind-expanding childrenâ€™s book, â€œAll Around Usâ€ (Cinco Puntos, $17.95), by Xelena GonzÃ¡lez, with illustrations by Adriana M. Garcia, both of whom have roots in San Antonio.
SÃ¡enz, the El Paso writer best know for the story collection â€œEverything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club,â€ as well as award-winning YA novels, began with poetry.
In his seventh collection, SÃ¡enz peels off his own skin and slices open his heart â€” that of a gay Latino man who has struggled with addiction and â€œbroken love.â€ He writes with simple beauty: â€œHe wants to remember/and understand the crooked roads/he has walked. He will step into the landscapes/where he lost and broke himself. He saw miles/of perfect lawns/but when he stepped/discovered weeds/and stickers everywhere/his clothes torn/his feet bleeding/his idiot tongue/cursing the ground.â€
â€œGranpa says circles are all around us. We just have to look for them.â€ So begins â€œAll Around Us,â€ a powerful little book about the cosmos, the environment, life and death, vigilance about the world around us (and under us), told in the straightforward language of a conversation between a grandfather and his granddaughter. Definitely a book for the philosopher in all of us â€” no matter the age â€” with absolutely gorgeous, otherworldly illustrations.
Most San Antonians know the story of how the word maverick came into the American vernacular, something about Texas Declaration of Independence signer Samuel Maverick and his ornery, unbranded cows. San Antonio historian Lewis Fisher explores the etymology of the word as well as all of its manifestations in his new book â€œMaverick: The American Name that Became a Legendâ€ (Trinity University Press, $27.50).
A Maverick by marriage, Fisher has spent years wrapping his head around the Maverick myth. His book is a tale that encompasses cowboys, rustlers, movie stars, athletes, novelists, lawyers, mayors and congressmen â€” as well as maverick brands ranging from Ford cars and air-to-ground missiles to computer operating systems, Vermont maple syrup and Australian wines.
Is old, weird Texas gone? Vanishing? On the wane? Veteran journalist Joe Holley and photographer Peter Brown seek out the, ahem, maverick elements remaining in situ in â€œHometown Texasâ€ (Trinity University Press, $32.50).
Searching for no less than what Brown has described as the â€œcollective, various, remarkably complex soul that makes Texas unique,â€ the intrepid explorers divide the state into five topographical regions and squeeze more than three dozen stories and 80 photographs out of their concerted efforts.