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Archive for the 'Houston, Texas' Category

October 14th, 2012 • Posted in Houston, Texas, Literary Destinations

Audio: Top Ten Things for Literary Tourists to do in Houston, Texas.

I met recently with Kristi Beer from Inprint Houston, a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring readers and writers in Houston, Texas. Founded in 1983, Inprint fulfills its mission through the nationally renowned Margarett Root Brown Reading Series, the Cool Brains! Reading Series for Young People, literary and educational activities in the community that demonstrate the value and impact of creative writing, and support for the Univeristy of Houston Creative Writing Program.  These programs and events play a vital role contributing to Houston’s rich and diverse cultural life.

Who better then to question about how the Literary Tourist might best spend his or her time in Houston than someone at the center of this vibrant organization. Please listen here to our conversation

October 11th, 2012 • Posted in Houston, Texas

Audio Interview with Museum of Printing History Curator Amanda Stevenson

Houston’s Museum of Printing History was founded in 1979 by Raoul Beasley, Vernon P. Hearn, Don Piercy, and J. V. Burnham, four printers with a passion  for preserving their various printing-related collections and sharing them with the community.  Chartered in 1981 the Museum had its official opening in 1982 with Dr. Hans Halaby, Director of the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, Germany, cutting the ribbon.  The mission of the Museum is to promote, preserve, and share the knowledge of printed communication and art as the greatest contributors to the development of the civilized world and the continuing advancement of freedom and literacy. It does this through an active, on-going exhibitions program, and a series of book arts workshops.

I met with Musuem Curator Amanda Stevenson this past summer to talk about the collection. During our conversation she delivers a very informative thumb-nail sketch of how relief and intaglio printing techniques work. Please listen, and learn here:

July 11th, 2012 • Posted in Houston, Texas

Audio: Interview with David Theis, editor of Literary Houston

While there is no ‘great Houston Novel,’ a lot of good stories  have come out of the city, many of which are told in David Theis’s Literary Houston, an anthology of writing on and about ‘the Bayou city’. Stories, because Houston is a place where people come to DO things.  ‘To fly to the moon, create empires, build fortresses against cancer, and temples to surrealism’ as Theis puts it. I met him recently at a cafe just off Houston’s busy Westheimer street. Seems like everwhere we moved something or someone very noisy decided to followed us. Still, we had an interesting conversation. Hope you enjoy it.


June 15th, 2012 • Posted in CITIES, Houston, Texas, Literary Destinations

Literary Houston: Rothko Chapel

Okay so it’s not a library. Or a bookstore. But it is a great place just to sit down in and think, or read a book. Rothko Chapel was commissioned by philanthropist Dominique de Menil, a wealthy patron of the arts who helped establish an important art collection, and supported the launch of Brazos Bookstore, today one of Houston’s happeningest author reading venues. The Chapel‘s internal walls are lined with big, black hued, naturally-lit, paintings. They invite controversy, and, at least in my case, viewer participation. Perhaps because of the light from sky moving above, these paintings danced with images. Just as when one lies on the ground looking upward, trying to make recognizable shapes from the passing clouds, so I looked at these paintings to see faces appearing, and mountainside villages, city skylines and Germanic forests. Great art, light playing games or an overactive imagination. Take your pick.

June 13th, 2012 • Posted in CITIES, Houston, Texas

Literary Tourist: Top Five Houston Bookstores

Becker’s Books

Brazos Books 

Murder by the Book


1/4 Price Books

Kaboom Books

June 1st, 2012 • Posted in CITIES, Houston, Texas, Literary Destinations

Christopher Hitchens died in Houston

Christopher Hitchens died in Houston last December, here


at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

And while this may well be the sole thing that unites him with the city, it’s a connection that will last forever.

I’m down here this week researching an article on ‘Literary Houston’. Without doubt there are other writers much more closely associated with ‘space city’, but it was Hitchens who first came to mind after the decision was made to come here. I’ve been thinking a lot over the past few days about how much pleasure the man’s writing and debating performances have given me over the years. The world lost, in him, a passionate, articulate, forceful, funny, at times belligerent, singular, entertaining voice that lit up cultural and political discourse in ways few others could.

His death upset me. And so I’m pleased to be here in Houston, to think about his life and work; to quietly pay homage to a friend I knew, but never knew.

I think this is largely how literary tourism operates. Emotion fuels it.  A felt need to connect, as E.M. Forster observed,  with people – real or fictitious-  who’ve meant something  to you.  Who’ve added something to your life.

On the plane down I re-read Letters to a Young Contrarian. Here’s some advice from it:

“The high ambition, therefore, seems to me to be this: that one should strive to combine the maximum of skepticism, the maximum of hatred of injustice and irrationality with the maximum of ironic self-criticism. This would mean really deciding to learn from history rather than invoking or sloganizing it.”


“Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the “transcendent” and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence.”



May 30th, 2012 • Posted in Bookstores, CITIES, Houston, Texas

“Not even when I’m dead”

Dropped in on Quarter Price Books in Houston this evening and had a good talk with owner Larry Turk.  It’s clear from the stylish, handwritten notes that accompany many of the books in the store that Larry pays close attention to what he buys. Seemed like every book in the place had some interesting story attached to it.

Another fun store feature was the filing protocol: left-brain books to the left, right-brain to the right! There was also a decent selection of reasonably priced older books on a small bookshelf to the right of the entrance way, and some glassed-in gems near the cash register, including a signed Allen Ginsberg, and two ‘scarce’ ( Larry wont use the word ‘rare’.  Overused, and abused he says) signed books related to Mt. McKinley.

Larry told several stories about clients who regularly buy books from him who aren’t, you might say, in the habit of parting with them. For example, one regular was approached to see if he wanted to sell his copy of the deluxe “Saddle Blanket” edition of The King Ranch (designed by Carl Herzog) back to Larry (who’d sold it to him several years ago) for $900. Someone in the store was willing to pay North of $3000 for it; was he interested? “No Larry,” came the answer, ” not even when I’m dead.”