Darin Strauss writes in the New York Times that this year he has read three masterpieces — and then, to drive the point home, he qualifies them as “legitimate masterpieces” (his ital). One of those books is Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, written by Ben Fountain. (The other two books are Zadie Smith’s NW and Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue.) If you haven’t read the book yet, you ought to. Here’s Zac’s profile of Fountain from our May issue.
There has been talk of branding Dallas as the Reading Capital of Texas. (And by talk, I mean that a few civic-minded people were sitting in a room discussing what they wanted Dallas to be and someone threw it out as a joke, and then someone else really hooked onto the idea, and now we mention it every chance we get.) I think we’re on our way. There’s The Big Read Dallas in April, the month-long reading celebration D is heading up. The Dallas Public Library is the largest non-university library in the state. We’ve got a nice little reading spot in our new park. And, now, there’s the Wheelborrow.
The Wheelborrow was designed by Downtown Dallas Inc., an organization that I love because of what it does for downtown and because of its great employees. Dustin Bullard, DDI’s cityscape and urban design manager (and owner of adorable dog, Bella), told me about the cart a couple months ago. He said DDI wanted to create something that could roam around and allow people access to books.
It took a bit to get finished, but it’s finally here and will debut in a week at the Pegasus Plaza Holiday Market. The cart is made of recycled wood. It has a planter, cushioned seats, and chalkboard doors. It’s simple in premise and design, and it’s absolutely perfect. The point is to let people take books and games from the cart. However, DDI needs a little help to get it rolling. If you have any old games or books that you would like to donate to the cause, please take them to DDI’s office at 2200 Ross Avenue or go to Two AT&T Plaza.
With The Big Read Dallas, the Wheelborrow, and so many other great reading and literacy programs, I think we’re on our way to becoming the Reading Capital of Texas. Spread the word.
The city of Dallas is expected to interview library director candidates the first week of December, a little FrontBurnervian birdie told me, hopefully bringing the interim-director game to a close.
Don’t get too excited. The last round of interviews for candidates to replace Laurie Evans – who left more than two years ago – didn’t go too well.Â The position’s been handled recently by Kris Sweckard, who, by all accounts, is doing a stand-up job despite the fact that his most recent position within the city government prior to the library was in theÂ Office of Environmental Quality.
Reading, clean air, same difference.
I chatted with city manager Mary Suhm at a D-related event in September. She was bullish, but cautious about saying too much about a new hire, and why it took the city so long to find a permanent director. (Hint: it’s because the city doesn’t fund its libraries close to the level of other major cities.)
Around the same time as my chat with Suhm, Unfair Park caught up with city spokesman Frank Librio:
“Mary’s thinking was the economy’s still tenuous, … maybe we should wait until the economy turns around, put more money into the materials budget, and get the library system up to moreÂ competitiveÂ level so Dallas is more attractive” to a candidate, Librio says.
Guess we’ll find out if that worked in December.
In the current issue of the lit and fine arts journal Golf Coast, Garret Dean Johnson reviews UTD prof Matt Bondurant’s novel The Night Swimmer, which came out this summer. Says Johnson:
Like his characters, Bondurant’s prose itself is alive, immediate, often simple and declarative but given to occasional bursts of lyricism. He handles both the rough, wild terrain of coastal County Cork and its attendant vernacular with a kind of seamless, hard-edged grace. As arresting as Bondurant’s depiction of place is a sense of subtle magic pervading everything (the land, the people, the events).
I’m almost finished with Bondurant’s most well-known novel, from 2008, Lawless (first published as The Wettest County in the World). Based on the strength of that work and also on something very violent and funny that Bondurant wrote for our December issue, I highly recommend The Night Swimmer.
The list of finalists for this year’s National Book Awards has been released, and our own Ben Fountain is on it. An enthusiastic high-five goes out to Fountain, who not only deserves the honor but is one of the nicest fellows you could ever hope to meet. If you haven’t read Zac’s profile of Fountain, now’s a good time to dig in. And when you’re finished with that, read Fountain’s wonderful book, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. Highly recommended.
Congrats to sometime D contributor Harry Hunsicker, who tells us on Twitter: “Very happy to report that Thomas & Mercer has acquired my new novel THE CONTRACTORS as part of a three-book deal. Pub date: Fall 2013.” Couldn’t happen to a nicer fella.
Tonight at 8 o’clock there will air on the Golf Channel a documentary based on Curt Sampson’s new book, The War by the Shore: The Incomparable Drama of the 1991 Ryder Cup. I’ve just begun reading the book and can tell you that if you like to read about golf, you should buy it. If you like to watch shows about golf, then you should definitely set your DVR accordingly. Curt, of course, sometimes types for D Magazine. He got the last interview with Don Meredith before he died. If you haven’t yet, you should read that story.
Back in May, former D Magazine staffer Trey Garrison posted on his blog that he’d signed a book deal. Peter Simek put up an item about the deal on FrontRow. Then Trey’s post vanished. If you follow the link to it from Peter’s post, you’ll find a 404. Then, yesterday, Trey again put up a post announcing his book deal. One presumes this post will remain posted longer. Trey’s deal is with Harper Voyager, the sci-fi imprint for HarperCollins. From the release:
Trey Garrison’s debut novel, THE SPEAR OF DESTINY, the first in the alternate history steam-punk “Far Ranger” series, is set in a very different 1920s where the North American continent is comprised of rival nations, and science and the supernatural co-exist. Great War veterans and freelance pilots Sean Rucker and Jesus D’Anconia Lago are reluctantly pulled into a quest to save the world. Will Hinton at Harper Voyager is the editor for publication. It will be published in three parts starting December 2012. Trey is represented by David Hale Smith at Inkwell Management in a two-book deal.
Well, congratulations to Trey. To celebrate, and perhaps to give curious readers some book-buying guidance, here are some of my favorite Trey Garrison tweets from recent weeks:
If you’ve been around here long enough, then you know that Brian Sweany used to work at D Magazine. He left us in 2005 for Texas Monthly, and we’ve never forgiven him for it. So it gives me great pains to pass along the news that he’s got himself a book deal brokered by none other than local literary agent and noted scamp David Hale Smith. The full release
Texas Monthly deputy editor Brian Sweany’s The Kingdom of the Saddle, a biography of cowboy and businessman Charles Goodnight (Larry McMurtry’s model for Captain Woodrow Call in his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Lonesome Dove), who blazed the Goodnight Loving Trail to lead one of the longest and most important cattle drives in US history and reshaped the American West while earning and losing vast fortunes several times over the course of his 93-year life, sold to editor Vanessa Kehren at Penguin’s Blue Rider Press, in a deal negotiated by David Hale Smith at Inkwell Management (North American publishing rights).
Sandra Brown, the Arlington-based writer, has penned more than 60 New York Times best-sellers. But she says she never really feels like she’s successful. In this Q&A in the September issue of The Writer magazine, Brown tells our Glenn Hunter where her story ideas come from, what she learned from David Mamet, and why she’s content being a “popular” rather than a literary author.
The fashion blogger and model Lauren Scruggs, who suffered that awful propeller accident last December after viewing Christmas lights over Dallas, was on the Today show this morning. She was there to plug the book, titled Still Lolo: A Spinning Propeller, a Horrific Accident, and a Family’s Journey of Hope, that she and her family wrote about the experience. She lost her left arm and eye.
“I’ve learned to live by faith and not by sight,” she said.
Since Today is filming in London during NBC’s coverage of the Olympics, Scruggs also got to meet gymnastics all-around champion Gabby Douglas.
Our hirsute buddy Mike “Michael J.” Mooney gets to update his rÃ©sumÃ© today, for he finds himself included in the 2012 edition of The Best American Sports Writing, the annual anthology of the best sports stories that have been written in America (ahem). Mike’s story is about Ron Washington, and it ran in the April 2011 issue of D Magazine. It is titled “He Do What He Do.” And here is the full list of BASW authors who will be thrilled to see their names next to Mike’s.
Brent Smith and Jason Treu have written a book together called Jump Start Your Social Life: A Man’s Guide To Building an Amazing Social Life in 30 Days or Less. To launch this book, they had a party at Candle Room. That’s where this video was made. Watch it immediately. After you’ve had some time to digest this amazing anthropological artifact and wonder whether you are capable of acquiring “next-level social skills,” I will point you to some more Brent Smith videos.
A few months ago, in January, Christine Allison and I were talking about a report she heard on NPR–something about the city of Tucson reading Emily Dickinson’s collected poetry for a month. She was intrigued. I was intrigued. And that’s when we stumbled across The Big Read, a program funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. It’s basically a monthlong, community-wide program that celebrates one book. We looked through the site and realized that it would be an astounding experience for Dallas. We also realized we couldn’t apply for the grant (we’re neither a nonprofit nor a library), so began a frantic search for the right partner–frantic, because the deadline for the grant submission was in two weeks. In other words, we would need a partner who was not only a spacious thinker, but willful enough to try for the impossible.
When we met the Friends of the Dallas Public Library, we knew we had our match. Their executive director, Kate Park, was instrumental in producing the proposal and choosing our book, which is Fahrenheit 451, written by the late Ray Bradbury. Next year will be the book’s 60th anniversary. Its themes of courage, censorship, and free access to information are near and dear to both our organizations. (Fun fact: Mike Mooney loves the book. He can recite the first few lines.) Park sent off the grant, and we all crossed our fingers.
Well, today, we can officially announce that The Big Read is coming to Dallas in April 2013. We’re very excited to be a part of it. The main group behind it will be D Academy, a leadership development program underwritten by D Magazine.
We have a lot of work in front of us. But we’re all looking forward to April 2013. I hope you are, too.
Sometime D Magazine contributor David Ritz was profiled in the Los Angeles Times over the weekend. Much of the material I was familiar with (including the awesome detail that David got so close to Marvin Gaye while ghostwriting his bio that David wound up writing the lyrics for “Sexual Healing”). Here’s what I didn’t know about David: dude has quite a collection of tattoos. Follow the link for a peek at his left arm.