This week in popular culture (other than ACL): Bruce’s memoir, Bon Iver’s new album and “Luke Cage”

rs-227987-btr-700x1057Bruce Springsteen, “Born to Run” (Simon & Schuster). Pretty much the most anticipated music book of the past decade or so. Reportedly a blast and built for the faithful and non-believers alike. I am looking forward to it.  (Sept. 27)

Bon Iver “22, A Million” (Jagaguwar).  Justin Vernon project’s first since 2011 contains song titles such as “15 – CRΣΣKS” and “33 “GOD”” and “29 #Strafford APTS” so we’ll see how this goes.  (Sept. 30)

Joan of Arc “He’s Got The Whole This Land Is Your Land In His Hands” (Joyful Noise Recordings). Ever since the emo bubble burst in, oh, let’s say around 2004, this band has been calmly putting out records whenever they feel like it. (Sept. 30)

 blonde-redhead-masculin-fminin-1Blonde Redhead “Masculin Féminin”  (Numero Group). A four-LP or two-CD, 37-song compilation of the band’s first two albums for Steve Shelley’s Smells Like Records from back when they really, really sounded like Sonic Youth. (Sept. 30)

The Rolling Stones “The Rolling Stones in Mono”  (UMe). A 16-LP or 15-CD box set of early recordings, with a new compilation titled “Stray Cats” featuring non-album B-sides and rarities. All of you know when my birthday is and hey, look there, Christmas is coming! (Sept. 30)

“Marvel’s Luke Cage” (Netflix) What all of your nerdy and not so nerdy pals will be doing on Friday (watching this, I mean, possibly all of it). With Mike Colter in the title role,  alongside Mahershala Ali, Alfre Woodard, Simone Missick, Theo Rossi, Frank Whaley, and Sonia Braga. (Sept.30)

‘I’m basically a comic’: William Shatner speaks on ‘Star Trek II,’ going to Asia and doing stand-up comedy

He has entered the one-name club. Entered it long ago, in fact.

Che. Bowie. Jagger…


The man, the myth, the hair.william-shatner-captain-kirk-star-trek-joins-the-wizard-world-comic-con-tour-4_2

William Shatner, aka Captain James T. Kirk, aka T.J. Hooker, aka Denny Crane (for which he won two Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe) aka the man who gave us a truly epic version of “Mr. Tambourine Man” (and, come on, perhaps THE definitive take on “Rocket Man”).

Look, Shatner has an entire encyclopedia devoted to his work, devoted to his philosophy, devoted to his very being. What more can we ask for from our life and career?

startrekii_spotlightHe is here in Austin for the Wizard World convention and to do a Q&A before a 35 mm screening of the almighty “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” on Sept. 23 at the Paramount.

Shatner thinks Star Trek II resonates because, really, what is missing? “There’s a story of revenge, filled with all kinds of theatricality, and Ricardo Montalban makes a great villain,” he says. “It’s a good film. You’ve seen these characters on television, you see them on screen and you feel you know them.”

But then, that is in the past. Shatner is a man who keeps himself busy. He’s just released a new novel, “Zero-G,” written with Jeff Rovin, about, as the book description puts it, “intrepid, 80-year-old FBI deputy director Samuel Lord” whose “space based ‘Zero-G’ men are in charge of investigating terrorism, crime, corruption, and espionage beyond the Earth’s atmosphere” aboard the space station Empyrean.

“I’ve been talking to astrophysicists on another project, and they think in the same way science-fiction writers do,” Shatner says. “It is the same imaginative process. ‘Zero-G’ is imagining what the FBI will be doing out in law enforcement out in space 50 years from now. That is what science fiction does: It imagines the future, and since nobody knows what the next instant is going to be, then my opinion of 50 years from now or Roddenberry’s opinion of 300 years from now is equally valid.”

Then again, Shatner has done an incredible amount of stuff over the years, some of which has faded, some of which has resonated. “I did a couple of Twilight Zones that remain popular whenever the show is rerun, and I sort of wonder why,” Shatner says. “But, again, it’s the story. There’s one about a little furry creature on a wing of a plane (“Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”) that’s played again and again. Why it is one of the more popular ones, I don’t know. The fear of flying, maybe? Every so often you do something that touches a universal nerve.”

The cast of “Better Late Than Never”

He even had a recent hit with the semi-scripted reality show “Better Late that Never,” which teamed him with Henry Winkler, George Foreman, Terry Bradshaw and younger comedian Jeff Dye. “NBC said, how would you like to go to Asia, and of course I said yes. All I knew is that I was going to go to a part of the world that I had longed to go to. … It was all taken care of. All you had to do was show up and be amusing. And these guys together turned out to be hysterical.”

And, yes, while Shatner is best known for dramatic (or melodramatic parts) such as Captain Kirk, he considers himself as much a comedian as a dramatic actor (see also Denny Crane). “I’m basically a comic,” he says “I did some stand-up in New York at the Gotham Comedy Club, and it was great! In their words, I murdered.”

Hey, that’s terrific.

“No, I murdered, it’s better than terrific.”

The show that is perhaps most “near and dear to my heart,” as he puts it, is “Shatner’s World,” a one-man show wherein the man expounds on, well, all of the things. “I was on Broadway with it, I’ve toured with it, it’s the project that has the most of me in it,” Shatner says. “It’s about saying ‘yes’ to life. Yes to the things that happen to you. Say yes instead of saying no. Get out there and do something and find something passionate and have an adventure. It’s over so quickly that it’s ridiculous not to expose yourself.”

Ladies and gentlemen … Shatner.

Kirkus Reviews announces finalists for Kirkus Prize

Kirkus Reviews announced the six finalists for the third annual Kirkus Prize in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, and Young Readers’ Literature.

Winners in the three categories will receive $50,000 each; writers become eligible by receiving a starred review from Kirkus Reviews. An panel of judges, including writers and booksellers, librarians, and Kirkus critics, select the Kirkus Prize finalists and winners.

This year’s finalists were chosen from 515 young readers’ literature titles, 314 fiction titles, and 325 nonfiction titles. The three winners will be announced at a special ceremony in Austin, Texas on Thursday, November 3, 2016.

The finalists for the 2016 Kirkus Prize are:



·     “Imagine Me Gone” by Adam Haslett (Little, Brown)

·     “Carousel Court” by Joe McGinniss Jr. (Simon & Schuster)

·     “The Sport of Kings” by C.E. Morgan (FSG)

·     “Barkskins” by Annie Proulx (Scribner)

·     “A Gentleman in Moscow: by Amor Towles (Viking)

·     “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)

The judges for the 2016 Kirkus Prize in Fiction are: author Claire Messud, Annie Philbrick, the owner of Bank Square Books in Mystic, Connecticut, and journalist and Kirkus critic Gene Seymour.


·     “At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails with Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Other”s by Sarah Bakewell (Other Press)

·     “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City” by Matthew Desmond (Crown)

·     “The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in Americ”a by Michael Eric Dyson (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

·     “In the Darkroom” by Susan Faludi (Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books)

·     “Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother’s Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South” by Beth Macy (Little, Brown)

·     “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis” by J.D. Vance (HarperCollins)

The judges for the 2016 Kirkus Prize in Nonfiction are: author and Kirkus critic Jim Piechota, Chris Schoppa of Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C., and journalist and novelist Héctor Tobar.


Picture Books:

·     “Thunder Boy Jr.” by Sherman Alexie and illustrated by Yuyi Morales (Little, Brown)

·     “Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life” by Ashley Bryan (Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Atheneum)

Middle Grade:

·     “We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler” by Russell Freedman (Clarion)

·     “As Brave As You” by Jason Reynolds (Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Atheneum)

Young Adult:

·     “The Reader by Traci Chee (Putnam)

·     Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina (Candlewick)

The judges for the 2016 Kirkus Prize in Young Readers’ Literature are: Author and co-owner of The Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne, Vermont Elizabeth Bluemle; Coordinator of School and Student Services for Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore and Kirkus critic Deborah D. Taylor; and award-winning author and the Poetry Foundation’s Young People’s Laureate Jacqueline Woodson.

This is the third year for the Kirkus Prize. The previous winners:

From 2015: ” A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara, “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and “Echo” by Pam Muñoz Ryan.

From 2014: “Euphoria” by Lily King, “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” by Roz Chast, and ” Aviary Wonders Inc.” by Kate Samworth.

Winners of the 2016 Kirkus Prize will be announced at a ceremony in Austin Nov. 3.

For more information about The 2016 Kirkus Prize, including dates of eligibility, more about rules and selection process, and bios of the finalists and judges, please visit Kirkus Reviews/prize

Laura Bush, Don DeLillo, Diane Guerrero to attend Texas Book Festival; full line-up out now

Don DeLillo (photo: Joyce Ravid)
Don DeLillo (photo: Joyce Ravid)

Writer Don DeLillo, actress Diane Guerrero, Austin writer Karan Mahajan and a former First Lady are just a few of the more than 280 authors appearing at the 21st annual Texas Book Festival Nov. 5 and 6 at the Capitol and surrounding grounds.

“Our mission is to connect these amazing writer with readers,” TBF Lois Kim said at the author-reveal event Thursday night.

The festival, which draws about 40,000 people over two days, announced its full lineup Thursday, a slate which includes writers in literary fiction, genre fiction, history, politics, Texana, memoir, cooking and children’s literature. The gathering also features panel discussions, cooking demonstrations, live music and activities for kids.

The seminal post-modernist DeLillo, perhaps best known for his novels “White Noise,” “Mao II” and “Underworld,” might be the single biggest “get” of this year’s fest. His 16th novel, “Zero K,” has received some of the strongest reviews of DeLillo’s 21st century output.

Guerrero is an actress on the hit shows “Orange is the New Black” and “Jane the Virgin,” and is a featured Festival author with her book “In The Country We Love: My Family Divided.”

Speaking of actors, Nick Offerman, who played Ron Swanson on”Parks and Recreation,” will attend with “Good Clean Fun, “a book about his passion, woodworking.

Karan Mahajan (photo: Molly Winters)
Karan Mahajan (photo: Molly Winters)

Mahajan, who will be teaching at UT in the spring, holds an MFA from the Michener Center. His first novel, Family Planning (2008), won the Joseph Henry Jackson Award and was a finalist for the International Dylan Thomas Prize. His novel “The Association of Small Bombs,” has been long-listed for the National Book Award.

Nine National Book Award long-listers will be at the festival.

Texas Book Festival co-founder and former First Lady Laura Bush and her daughter Jenna Bush Hager will attend with their children’s book “Our Great Big Backyard,” about our National Parks.

Also on the kids’ book front, Lois Lowry, who has written more than thirty children’s books, is here with an update of her memoir, “Looking Back,” while R. L. Stine will, whose “Goosebumps” books have sold over 400 million copies worldwide, will also attend.

Other big names include investigative journalists,  first-time graphic novelists, long-time crime novelists and celebrity chefs.

David Cay Johnson will be here with “The Making of Donald Trump,” whom Johnson has been covering for decades.

Actor and Austin native Ethan Hawke, whom you can soon see in “The Magnificent Seven,” is here with his graphic novel “Indeh: A Story of the Apache Wars,”written by Hawke and illustrated by Greg Ruth.

In his crime novels, Carl Hiaasen has written about the misdeeds of many a Florida Man. He is the author of 13 best-sellers, including “Bad Monkey,” “Star Island,” “Nature Girl” and “Lucky You.” Hiassen is a featured Festival author with his novel Razor Girl.

Award-winning chef and cookbook author Marcus Samuelsson was the youngest chef to ever receive two three-star ratings from The New York Times. He won Top Chef Masters Season 2 and is here with his cookbook “The Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food and Hustle in Harlem,” out in October.

Yaa Gyasi
Yaa Gyasi

Buzzy literary authors are also thick on the ground at TBF. Emma Cline’s “The Girls,” a fictional account of the Manson family, is one of the year’s most discussed books, as is Ghana-born, Alabama-raised Yaa Gyasi’s first novel, “Homegoing,” which follows a family from 18th century Ghana to contemporary America.

Also look for several increasingly high-profile Latino authors, including Wall Street executive Julissa Arce, who is here with her book “My (Underground) American Dream” and made headlines when she revealed she was undocumented, children’s authors Monica Brown, Yuyi Morales and René Colato Lainez, poet Norma Cantu and Austin author Ire’ne Lara Silva, here with her most recent collection of poetry, “Blood Sugar Canto.”

Check out the full line-up at

The First Edition Literary Gala, the main annual fundraiser for the festival, will be Nov. 4 at the Four Seasons Hotel. For a complete list of authors, visit The festival is free and open to the public.

The Texas Teen Book Festival, under the auspices of the Texas Book Festival, is Oct. 1 at St. Edwards University.

This week in popular culture: Alan Moore, Willie Nelson and a show about weed

51d51rlv44l“Jerusalem” by Alan Moore (Liveright). At 1 million words, perhaps this is one for the e-reader. But get ahold of this monster in whatever format, as one of the greatest fantasists of his generation (“Watchmen,” “From Hell” and so many other groundbreaking comics) delivers a surreal survey of his home of Northampton, England. A sprawling, post-modern epic in the let’s-write-about-everything tradition, it mixes fantasy, poetry, historical fiction and sci-fi. Look for passages that read like Joyce, appearances by Oliver Cromwell and Philip Doddridge, overlapping Dickensian storylines and world-building as only Moore can deliver. This one may be a very big deal for fans of Michael Moorcock, giant beards, extremely complicated comic books, James Michener, William Blake, Thomas Pynchon and guys who might worship snake gods. (Sept. 13)

Against Me!, “Shape Shift With Me” (Total Treble). The seventh album from Laura Jane Grace and company. Expect a whole mess of anthems. (Sept. 16)

Willie Nelson, “For the Good Times: A Tribute to Ray Price” (Legacy Recordings). For his second album of 2016 and his 68th studio album overall, ol’ Willie delivers a tribute to the late, great singer, recorded at Ocean Way, where Price cut his final album. Vince Gill guest stars. (Sept. 16)

Led Zeppelin, “The Complete BBC Sessions” (Rhino / Atlantic). An expanded version of the classic BBC sessions set, now tricked out with eight previously unreleased songs. (Sept. 16)

“High Maintenance” (HBO). The web series about a New York marijuana dealer makes the jump to HBO for a six-episode run. (Sept. 16)

packshot1-768x768And from last week: Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, “Skeleton Tree” (Bad Seed Ltd.) The band’s first studio album since 2013 and first since the tragic, accidental death of Cave’s 15-year-old son is a stunner, one of the year’s most powerful listens. Over sometimes almost ambient, gestural music composed by Cave and longtime creative partner Warren Ellis, Cave has never, ever sounded this exposed. A terrible beauty. A+. (Sept. 9)

This week in popular culture: Nick Cave’s new album, CCR’s best year and Margaret Atwood writes a comic book

Wow, there’s a lot of cool stuff out this week.

“Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race” by Margot Lee Shetterly (William Morrow). The true story of the African-American, female mathematicians at NASA whose work helped some of America’s greatest achievements in space. You might have seen a trailer for the movie based on this story starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kirsten Dunst and Kevin Costner. (Sept. 6)

“Atlanta” (FX). The new comedy from Donald Glover (“Community”) about a fellow who goes back home to Atlanta only to see his cousin’s rap career explode. (Sept. 6)

margaretatwoodangelcatbird-jpg-crop-article250-mediumAngel Catbird Vol. 1″ by Margaret Atwood, Johnnie Christmas and Tamra Bonvillian (Dark Horse): This is, no kidding, an original graphic novel written by longtime comics fan Atwood herself. (Sept. 6)

Nick Cave in “One More Time With Feeling”

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, “Skeleton Tree” (Bad Seed Ltd.) The band’s first studio album since 2013 and first since the tragic, accidental death of Cave’s 15-year-old son. It is entirely possible that this album will be too intense to listen to, but his fans look forward to trying. The Alamo is screening “One More Time with Feeling,” the documentary about the album.  (Sept. 9)

M.I.A., “A.I.M.” (Interscope). Four singles are already circulating from the fifth album from this groundbreaking rapper. (Sept. 9)

Creedence Clearwater Revival, “1969 Archive Box” (Fantasy).  Very few bands — not even the Beatles or the Stones, I would venture — had a year quite like CCR’s 1969. This set, originally released on Record Store Day 2016, contains LP and CD versions of the “Bayou Country,” “Green River” and “Willie & The Poor Boys” albums, plus three 7-inch EPs, a 60-page composition notebook, poster and more. Retailing out at more than $140, this is a deluxe item, for sure, and all of these albums can be found for cheap at any used record store on the planet, but, once again, let us acknowledge the unreal output over a roughtly 12 month period of one of the greatest American rock bands, bar none.

Okkervil River, “Away” (ATO). Reeling from some personal issues, Okkervil leader (and former Austinite) Will Sheff recruits Marissa Nadler and former bandmate (and Shearwater leader) Jonathan Meiburg for some of his most profoundly personal songs. (Sept. 9)

Wilco, “Schmilco” (dBPm/ANTI- /Epitaph). Man, that is a perfect title. It’s at least as good a name as the last album, which was called “Star Wars.” This one can actually be found in stores right this second. (Sept. 9)

Mindy Kaling coming to the Texas Teen Book Festival

mkalingconversation2016-225x300“The Mindy Project,” creator, author and comedian Mindy Kaling is coming to the 2016 Texas Teen Book Festival Oct. 1  at St. Edwards University.

Kaling will discuss both of her comedic memoirs with Sarah Pitre of Alamo Drafthouse and Forever YA Book Club at 10:15 a.m. at the St. Edward’s University Recreation and Convocation Center (RCC).

Admission to Kaling’s discussion is free and on a first-come and first-served basis.

Kaling’s memoir,  “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns),” will be available for purchase beginning at 8 a.m. at the St. Edward’s Alumni Gym along with copies of the new paperback edition of her follow-up bestseller “Why Not Me? (All memoirs should have “me” in the title.)

Kaling will sign copies for the first 250 people who purchase a book.