book/daddy: November 2008 Archives

You know that book/daddy hasn't been posting much lately. Let's see .... the date on that last one, oh geez, it's three weeks ago.

What can I say? The day job has gone full tilt. And right now, a relative has passed away, and I'm flying to be at the funeral during the worst travel week of the year. So with the ritual Turkey Sacrifice upon us, you shouldn't expect anything new this next week, either.

All that tryptophan, book/daddy will be asleep for days.
November 26, 2008 2:47 PM | | Comments (1)

Richard Wright (from African-American Museum in Dallas is presenting a celebration symposium of author Richard Wright this weekend to mark the centennial of his birth. Surrounding the symposium are a number of lectures and book club meetings.

Elaine Johnson: "Richard Wright was probably one of the first books that I read. But I didn't remember Black Boy and so when I read it again, I found it quite interesting that a lot of the racism - to me, it's like, 'Ooh, this reminded me of things today - especially with the election going on.'"

Elaine Johnson is a member of the Black Pearls Keeping It Real Book Club in Dallas. On this particular Saturday afternoon, the club has met at a Half-Price Bookstore to discuss Black Boy, Richard Wright's 1945 autobiography. It's his account of growing up in the South in the 1910s and '20s and escaping to Chicago.

Wright's family was so isolated, he didn't really encounter many white people until he was nearly in his teens. Because his father abandoned Wright's mother, the family was so desperately poor they ate lard gravy as a daily meal. As a result, Wright was seriously malnourished: By the time he was 20, he failed his first job application at the Post Office. He couldn't meet the minimum weight requirement of 120 pounds.

Wright's original title for Black Boy was -- American Hunger.

Doris Nelson is another Black Pearl member. She found the book's extreme poverty and isolation hard to get past at first:

November 7, 2008 11:02 AM | | Comments (1)
Legacy 3.jpgLegacy Books

Books and bookstores are supposed to be dying. But despite the internet and the dire economy, new bookstores have just opened in Plano (north of Dallas) and Oak Cliff (south of downtown Dallas).  The new shops are not your typical booksellers, though. Not around here, anyway.

For one thing, Legacy Books in Plano is big. Located at Legacy Road and the Dallas North Tollway, it has 24,000 square feet, and it stocks some 110,000 book titles. That's the size of a Borders or  Barnes & Noble superstore. But Legacy isn't a chain store. It's independently owned. And most independents aren't that big, not at first, anyway. Elsewhere in the country, major independents are considered some of the best bookstores around - places like Elliot Bay in Seattle or Book People in Austin. But in North Texas, Legacy is the first (therefore, only) major independent. We've been dying for a good major independent.

Well, I have, anyway.

The store in the Shops at Legacy is the brainchild of Teri Tanner. She practically grew up in retail. She worked for both Barnes & Noble and Borders -- most recently as the regional director of sales for Borders: "I've been building this store in my head for 25 years - because you listen to a bookseller or a cashier or the cleaning crew that says, "I just wish this" or "I just wish that" - and that's what we've tried to do here."

Construction continues because although Legacy Books is open, the official grand opening is November 7. Deanne Teeter led the Legacy design team for the firm, Morrison Seifert Murphy. She points out the store's demonstration kitchen as one of Tanner's innovations.

November 3, 2008 2:35 PM | | Comments (1)

There is a new destabilizing trend in YouTubeLand called 'literal video" or "Literal [name of rock video or movie here]." It's a form of satire that seems to work best with the more inflated, '80s or '90s pop-rock videos, the ones that were developed as little storytelling movies, even though the "movies" had little to do with the song itself or seemed patently pretentious, with or without the song. In short, there's a profound disjuncture among the posturing twit-lead singer, what he's supposedly singing about and what's going on all around him. As they used to say about political photo-ops: It doesn't matter what the candidate is saying, it's the background he's in front of and how he looks, an approach that reached its nadir with the infamous 2002 President-Bush-on-Mt.-Rushmore photo op (typically -- and now with painful irony -- no one remembers the actual occasion, which was his speech on "homeland and economic security.")

The "literal videomakers," notably DustoMcNeato and KeithFK, narrow the yawning chasm of images-vs.-song lyrics-vs.-celebrity persona by simply inserting their own lyrics, which flatly reiterate or question whatever is happening onscreen. Thus, in McNeato's version of Tears for Fears' "Head Over Heels," lead singer Curt Smith poses the questions that would go through any viewer's head when watching the wildly wacky events happening in this oh-so-typically surreal library: "What's happening with that monkey? What is with this gas mask?" (Personal favorite: When Smith points to his head and sings, "Like my mullet?")

Or in this version of "Under the Bridge" performed by the eminently mockable Red Hot Chili Peppers: Anthony Keidis, like some brain-dead video editor (a plausible role), repeatedly tells the video what to do: "Now superimpose on me/Someone's ugly house/There's no front lawn/Just a pile of dirt/Will you ever cut away/From this boring shot?"
November 3, 2008 1:23 PM |

Robert Caro

The Texas Book Festival, which ran over the weekend at the State Capitol in Austin, came directly out of politics -- thanks, in part to then-First Lady of Texas Laura Bush. And thanks, in part, to Austin itself and the Austin political-social types who continue to run it, the festival has always had a huge contingent of presidential biographers, state historians and political journalists, more than most literary shindigs, it seems. What can you say about a book festival that has seemingly had Texas Monthly political editor Paul Burka on some panel or other just about every year (not this time, thankfully)? it's a festival that always has sessions with titles (taken from this year's festival) like "Texas Political Giants" and "Memo to the President-Elect" and "Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln." Beyond the staples of any book festival -- popular novels, cookbooks, children's books, books on music and celebrities -- this has been the defining trait of the Austin fest.

So, initially, it was something of a surprise that on this weekend -- of all election-year weekends -- the Texas Book Festival definitely was not drawing the same size crowds, pulling the same political mojo, as in previous years.

November 3, 2008 10:50 AM |


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This page is a archive of recent entries written by book/daddy in November 2008.

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