Category Archives: books

The Waste of Gadgets: a Quick Look at Nicholson Baker’s “Substitute: Going to School With a Thousand Kids”

So the first thing I should note about Nicholson Baker’s excellent Substitute: Going to School With a Thousand Kids (2016) is how funny it is. He’s got a keen eye for the absurdities in contemporary education, the unintentional comedy of … Continue reading

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Review of Francisco Cantu’s Memoir “The Line Becomes a River” in the Dallas Morning News

So my review of Francisco Cantu’s The Line Becomes a River, a memoir about his experience working as a Border Patrol Agent, appears in the Dallas Morning News today, and can be found here. It’s a good book, thoughtful and … Continue reading

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On Why I Read Dan Brown’s “Origin”: Or My Adventures as a Consumer of Best-Selling Drivel

So I was recently having dinner with a best-selling writer—a bit of literary socializing before said writer gave a reading on our campus—and we had reached the point of small-talk detailing what books we’d been reading. This is often the … Continue reading

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Review of Kent Haruf’s “Our Souls at Night” as Tribute to the New Film Version Starring Jane Fonda and Robert Redford

So two years ago Kent Haruf published his last terrific novel, Our Souls at Night, which I reviewed for the Dallas Morning News, and as a tie-in and tribute of sorts, the DMN has republished my review today, which can … Continue reading

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Review of Gabriel Tallent’s “My Absolute Darling” in the Dallas Morning News

So my review of Gabriel Tallent’s debut novel, My Absolute Darling, appears in the Dallas Morning News today, and can be found here. The marketing of this novel seems odd: The combination of its sweet title, the brightly colored branches … Continue reading

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Hurricane Harvey Hits Home Town, Like I Predicted in “Goodnight, Texas”

So my misspent years in high school were dithered away in the Texas coastal town of Rockport, which appears to have been the epicenter of Hurricane Harvey’s landfall last night. Back in 2006 Unbridled Books published my novel Goodnight, Texas … Continue reading

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Guest Blog Post on the Superstition Review Website

So the nice editors over at the Superstition Review have not only published several of my stories and a recent essay—on stuffed animals, of all things—but they have also asked that I write a guest blog post for them, which … Continue reading

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Review of Jack E. Davis’s “The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea” in the Dallas Morning News

So last Sunday my review of Jack E. Davis’s The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea appeared in the Dallas Morning News, and can be found here. It’s a terrific book about the Gulf of Mexico, on the shores … Continue reading

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O Gulag, My Gulag: On Daniel Beer’s “The House of the Dead: Siberian Exile Under the Tsars”

So I’m a sucker for Russian literature, and while I was recently reading a biography of Leo Tolstoy written by his daughter—Alexandra Tolstoy’s The Life of My Father (1953)—I had to set it down when I heard about this just-out … Continue reading

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The Goodwill Genius: On Discovering Vladimir Nabokov’s “Bend Sinister”

So back in December my editor at the Dallas Morning News asked me (and other contributing writers) to pen a brief essay about a book I’d been given as a gift some time in my life, and I actually wrote … Continue reading

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