Happy 50th to Gabriel García Márquez’s ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’

Image courtesy of the Harry Ransom Center

You read it in high school or college or after or maybe just last week and it probably changed your life, a whole lot or just a little bit. And it turns 50 today.

May 30 is the 50th anniversary of Gabriel García Márquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” one of the most important novels of the late 20th century. It sold more than 30 million copies in dozens of languages and remains a crucial part of the Spanish-language canon.

The the Colombian-born, Nobel Prize–winning Márquez, who died in 2014 was a journalist, screenwriter, and key figure in 20th century Latin American history and politics.

As the the Ransom Center holds Márquez’s papers, the Center is celebrating the anniversary by releasing an online collection that documents the genesis of the novel from draft to literary classic.

The collection is online in English and Spanish.

And if you start to read it today, do yourself a favor and xerox the family tree in the front so you don’t have to keep flipping back. You will thank me later.

This week: King Arthur, Lehane, “Anne” and Norm!

Even the star of “King Arthur” looks skeptical

“Since We Fell” by Dennis Lehane (Ecco) After she loses it on air, former journalist Rachel Childs has barely left the house. And then an encounter causes her life, marriage and possibly sanity to fall apart. Look, it’s the new Lehane; of course you’re curious. (May 9)

Norm Macdonald: Hitler’s Dog, Gossip & Trickery (Netflix) The newest special from the great Norm Macdonald. (May 9)

Zac Brown Band, “Welcome Home” (Southern Ground/Atlantic). The very embodiment of frat-country releases their seventh studio album, just in time for the end of college finals and the start of summer vacation. (May 12)

Harry Styles, “Harry Styles” (C(olumbia). Styles, former singer with One Direction and possessed of some of the greatest hair in popular music, makes his solo debut. Columbia is praying it has another Justin Timberlake on its hands. (May 12)

 “Anne” (Netflix). This is an eight-episode adaptation of the foundational 1908 all ages/children’s book “Anne of Green Gables,” about a complicated Canadian orphan girl and her adventures with friends and (adopted, more or less) family. You may make your own “bosom friends” joke here. (May 12)

Various artists, “The Bob’s Burgers Music Album” (Sub Pop). A double album with 112 songs from the first 107 episodes of one of the best animated shows of its era. (May 12)

“King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.” Look, I love a King Arthur movie. Even bad ones (2004’s “King Arthur,” we’ll never forget you). But let’s be real: Does anyone remember the last time a King Arthur movie made any money domestically? Or any movie set in the Middle or Dark Ages? Was it in the 21st century? They tend to do OK overseas, but not so much in the States. Anyway, this one stars Charlie Hunnam as Arthur and Jude Law as Vortigern. Yes, I will see it, but I will be astonished if anyone else does. (May 12)

“Snatched.” Amy Schumer is the daughter, Goldie Hawn is the mother. They go on vacation. Hijinks ensue. (May 12)

Bret Anthony Johnston’s American Short Fiction story takes £30,000 award

Texas writer Bret Anthony Johnston (“Remember Me Like This” has won the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award for his story “Half of What Atlee Rouse Knows About Horses,” originally published last fall in Austin literary magazine American Short Fiction’s 25th anniversary issue.

The prestigious international prize is the richest for a single story in the English language, worth £30,000 (almost $39,000 in today’s exchange rate) to the winner.

Two recent ASF stories were selected for “Best American Short Stories 2017” and another for “Best American Nonrequired Reading 2017.”

You can read Johnston’s story in its entirety on the Story Award’s website.

The annual contest is judged by a panel of renowned editors, literary journalists, and writers. This year’s winner was chosen by Anne Enright, Mark Lawson, Neel Mukherjee, Rose Tremain, and Andrew Holgate. The judges praised it as a story “in which small details take on vast significance, and perceptions have the kick of a stallion.”

Johnston’s best-selling “Remember Me Like This” was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection and the winner of the 2015 McLaughlin-Esstman-Stearns Prize.  Johnston teaches in the Bennington Writing Seminars and at Harvard University, where he is the Director of Creative Writing.

Here is Johnston at BookPeople in 2014.

Celebrate Opening Day with seven terrific baseball books

Happy Opening day to one and all. Were it my decision, this would be a national holiday, but we do what we can.

Here are a few of my favorite books about baseball and my all time favorite documentary about my second-favorite American thing that is struggling to remain relevant in the 21st century. (The other is rock music.)

No “The Boys of Summer” or “Ball Four” on here, excellent though they are. Don’t @ me.

“The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading, and Bubble Gum Book,” by Brendan C. Boyd and Fred Harris. This 1973 classic, reprinted once in 1991 and in-print as a Kindle edition, can be found used for about $1.99. Do not hesitate.

Boyd and Harris were working at a bookstore in the early 70s, wrote this and, as far as I am concerned, made themselves immortal. One intro is a sweet and funny meditation on the 1950s (a mere 13 years after the decade was over), the other a look at how baseball cards are made.

Most of the book consists of small paragraphs about various cards and it is here where these two deliver the single funniest monograph about baseball ever written.  A massive chievement for baseball, ekphrasis, and American humor. No wonder its cult following sometimes just calls it “The Book.”


“The Bill James Guide to Baseball Managers: From 1870 to Today” by Bill James. Yeah, the “Historical Abstract” is more famous, but I am rolling with this one. Bill James has written a whole mess of books about baseball and he is, if anything, an underrated stylist. But this might be my favorite to just pick up and read. He goes over how the job has changed and picks a bunch of them to subject to a very James-ian questionnaire. The answer for “what would he be doing if there was no baseball” for Earl Weaver makes me laugh every time I think about it. (No, I’m not going to tell you.)

“Baseball in the Garden of Eden” by John Thorn. Not just a debunking of all things Abner Doubleday, but a possible modern classic of revisionist history in general (and I mean that in the most positive way).


“The Bullpen Gospels: A Non-Prospect’s Pursuit of the Major Leagues and the Meaning of Life” by Dirk Hayhurst. A tremendous account of contemporary life in the minor leagues with a terrible, clunky title. Not quite 21st century update of Pat Jordan’s “A False Spring” but getting there.


“The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America’s Pastime” by Jason Turbow and Michael Duca. Baseball’s rules of vengeance are Game-of-Thrones intricate, as complex in their own way as the codified rules themselves. This one might err more on the side of for-fans-only but for serious seamheads, it is a blast.


“A Day in the Bleachers” by Arnold Hano. Not quite year-zero for elevated baseball writing but awfully close. An obvious influence on Roger Angell, “A Day in the Bleachers” is Hano’s first-hand story of Game One of the 1954 World Series, Indians v. Giants at the Polo Grounds. This contest is better known as the game in which The Catch occurred, an event to whic Hano gives over the appropriate amount of verbiage — wouldn’t you if you had witnessed an actual miracle?


“The Southpaw” by Mark Harris. “Bang the Drum Slowly” is obviously the most famous of Harris’ Henry Wiggen books, but this is the first and it many ways the best. Harris’s voice is in the novel belongs somewhere in the vernacular first-person hall of fame up there with “Trainspotting” and whatever George Saunders is doing in “Lincoln in the Bardo:” “First off I must tell you something about myself, Henry Wiggen, and where I was born and my folks. Probably you never been to Perkinsville. How you get there you get an Albany train out of Grand Central Station. About halfway to Albany the conductor comes down the aisle mumbling ‘Perkinsville.’ Then the train slows and you got to be quick because most of them don’t exactly stop at Perkinsville. They just slow to a creep, and if you’re an old man or woman or if you got a broke leg or something of the sort I don’t know how you get off. Generally there will be no trouble.”


This week: ‘American War,’ an X-Men relaunch, the music of Waylon Jennings and much more

“American War” by Omar El Akkad (Knopf). Terrifying, post-apocalyptic  debut novel from this Egyptian-American author, perhaps a bit slipstreamish (think “Station Eleven,” maybe, “) on the sci-fi spectrum. It’s 2075 and America is a mess — constantly hot, full of refugee camps, the sky filled with drones and fully engulfed in civil war, Akkad examines the Chesnut family over two decades of life during wartime. Expect increasing buzz for this one. (Tuesday)


“Love & Rockets Magazine #2” by Los Bros Hernandez (Fantagraphics). Second issue in the three-times a year, magazine-sized (well, more like Golden Age comic sized, somewhere between a comic and a magazine…look, it looks really cool) version of the greatest American comic book series of all time. Essential reading since 1982 for everyone with eyeballs. Mature readers.  (Wednesday)

“X-Men Gold #1” by Marc Guggenheim and Ardian Syaf (Marvel). Given what a Marvel VP’s impressively unfortunate comments about comics, marketing and diversity, it’s not too surprising that the X-books are going back to first principles. This book highlights a lineup that is essentially the classic Claremont 70s/80s crew — Kitty Pryde is the leader with Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, (Old Man) Logan, and Rachel Grey-Summers in the Marvel Girl/Phoenix role, doing super-hero stuff (like fighting the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants). Rated 12-plus. (Wednesday)


“Outlaw: Celebrating the Music of Waylon Jennings” (Columbia Legacy) “Outlaw” is a CD tied to a special that airs 9 p.m. Friday on CMT, the broadcast (and CD version) of a set recorded July 6, 2015, at ACL Live. Look for Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Chris Stapleton, Shooter Jennings, Jessi Colter, Bobby Bare, Lee Ann Womack, Buddy Miller, Sturgill Simpson, Kacey Musgraves, Ryan Bingham, Alison Krauss and a ton more. (Friday)

Father John Misty, “Pure Comedy” (Sub Pop). We are in an era where a Sub Pop act can have a Target exclusive CD edition with five collectible cards. (Friday)

 Future Islands, “The Far Field” (4AD). Not sure that anyone who saw them on “Letterman” ever really forgot it — Dave certainly seemed gobsmacked. Produced by Dallas-based genius John Congleton, they seem to be one of the most personally well-liked bands around. (Friday)

 Joey Bada$$, “ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$” (Pro Era/Cinematic Music Group). Guests include ScHoolboy Q, Styles P, J. Cole and Chronixx. (Friday)

The New Pornographers, “Whiteout Conditions” (Collected Works/Concord). The first album in three years from this often-stunning pop act. This is the first album on Concord and the first not to feature songwriter/singer Dan Bejar, which seems like a mistake for both parties. (Friday)

Wire, “Silver/Lead” (pinkflag). Wire has been kicking around in one form or another for more than 40 years. Singer/guitarist Colin Newman is 62. Wire bassist/singer Graham Lewis is 65. Wire drummer Robert “Gotobed” Grey is 65. Not only do they rock harder than bands one-third their ages, they rock more interestingly as well. Inspiring, always. (Friday)

Pierce Brosnan as Eli McCullough  in “The Son” (James Minchin/AMC)

“The Son” (AMC). The long-awaited, somewhat hyped, Central Texas-shot adaptation of Austinite Philipp Meyer’s totally excellent generational novel about a Texas family. Stars not-a-Texan Pierce Brosnan. (Saturday)

Dan Chaon, Patty Yumi Cottrell among those announced for New Fiction Confab

All the big names.
All the big early- and mid-career names.

Dan Chaon, Patty Yumi Cottrell, Alexandra Kleeman, John Pipkin, Deb Olin Unferth and Yoojin Grace Wuertz will be dispensing writerly wisdom as part of the  Austin Public Library Friends Foundation’s 8th annual New Fiction Confab, which takes place April 1.

Each year, the Confab invites a handful of  early- and mid-career authors to Austin to spend a day leading writing workshops, reading their work, and engaging in conversations with the Austin literary community.

Dan Chaon is the acclaimed author of six works of fiction, including “Await Your Reply” and “Among the Missing,” which was a finalist for the National Book Award. His latest novel is the thriller “Ill Will.”

Patty Yumi Cottrell’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Guernica, BOMB, Gulf Coast, Black Warrior Review, and elsewhere. Her debut novel is “Sorry to Disrupt the Peace.”

Alexandra Kleeman’s début novel, “You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine,” was published in 2015 and her debut story collection, “Intimations,” came out last year.

Austin author John Pipkin’s first novel, “Woodsburner,” earned multiple awards and was named one of the best books of 2009 by The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, and The San Francisco Chronicle. His latest novel is “The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter,” which he discussed with the Statesman last year. 

Austin author and teacher Deb Olin Unferth is the author of “Minor Robberies, Vacation, and Revolution:The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War,” which was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award in autobiography. Her first short story collection, “Wait Till You See Me Dance,” is out in March.

Yoojin Grace Wuertz was born in Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States at age six. Her debut novel,” Everything Belongs to Us,” is out in late February.

Here is the schedule:

Readings and Conversations (Faulk Library)     2:00-5:00

  • Yoojin Grace Wuertz and John Pipkin (2:00-2:45)

Moderator: Michael Noll, editor of “Read to Write Stories” and program director for the Writers’ League of Texas

  • Alexandra Kleeman and Deb Olin Unferth (3:00-3:45)

Moderator: Brittani Sonnenberg, author of Home Leave

  • Dan Chaon and Patty Yumi Cottrell (4:00-4:45)

Moderator: Scott Blackwood, author of See How Small, We Agreed to Meet Just Here, and In the Shadow of Our House

Book sales and signing to follow.

Austin Lit Fair (Faulk Library)     2:00-5:00 

The New Fiction Confab showcases local publishers and literary organizations shaping Austin’s dynamic community of readers and writers. Discover their work and meet the editors and publishers enriching Austin. Featuring: American Short Fiction, The Austin Review, Bat City Review, Books Are Not a Luxury, fields magazine, Old Books for New Teachers, The Writing Barn.

Badgerdog Writing Workshops     10:15-11:15

  • Workshop for Kids (Grades 3-5)

With Yoojin Grace Wuertz at Twin Oaks Branch Library

  • Workshop for Teens (Grades 6-12)

With Alexandra Kleeman at Yarborough Branch Library

  • Workshop for Adults

With Patty Yumi Cottrell at North Village Branch Library

  • Workshop for Adults

With Dan Chaon at Manchaca Branch Library

Register for writing workshops online at www.austinlibrary.org.










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Ottessa Moshfegh reads from her excellent ‘Homesick for Another World’ Jan. 31 at BookPeople


Ottessa Moshfegh’s excellent short story collection “Homesick for Another World” contains a darkness that feels almost cancerous in spots. Author of the breakout 2015 novel “Eileen” (which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and picked up a Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award), Moshfegh chronicles folks who aren’t sure what rock bottom looks like because they might already be there.

Read the full story here.