Monday, September 19, 2011
Gianna: What's New From UT
The biggest change for me moving from Random House to The University of Texas Press [besides losing the best colleague one could ever hope to have in a career, me] is the vast difference in the amount of books we publish each year. Here at the University we publish about 200; at Random House I believe the number to be in the zillions. A bigger adjustment is the fact that we publish really amazing international art and photography books and I know next to nothing (which really means absolutely nothing) about art and photography. Now at Random House I could get away with selling the occasional art book while being dense…it's harder here. Actually, it's just harder being dense working at an academic press; I like to imagine that my new colleagues haven’t realized just how … uninformed I am about what we publish, but I am sure it was made pretty clear in the first week. It would all be easier if I were at least pretty, but alas, I am dumb and not even easy on the eyes. [Wait, what? You're the supermodel for this blog! Our dozens of followers wouldn't disagree.] I know, why don’t I just go buy boobs and shut up? Well, they are too pricey on book money. [Unless you're Pamela Anderson on that short-lived sitcom about a bookstore, Stacked.]
I honestly don’t remember what I was going to write about. Oh, I was going to let you know what is coming out this month from The University of Texas Press. And when I “write” about photography and art books – I will just fill the page with pretty pictures.
West of 98 Living and Writing the New American West by Lynn Stegner and Russell Rowland
One of my favorite books on our list this season is West of 98 (Stegner is the daughter in law of Wallace by the way), a collection of essays (and some poetry) from writers who are from or living in the West. It is filled with new visions on familiar themes such as: Cowboys and Indians, nature, landscape and general western history. In short, the theme of the book is "What does it mean to be a Westerner?"
Here is a sample of what this beautiful book has to offer:
“I would be converted to a religion of grass. Sleep the winter away and rise headlong each spring. Sink deep roots. Conserve water. Respect and nourish your neighbors and never let trees gain the upper hand. Such are the tenets and dogmas. As for the practice – grow lush in order to be devoured or caressed, stiffen in sweet elegance, invent startling seeds – those also make sense. Bow beneath the arm of fire. Connect underground. Provide. Provide. Be lovely and do no harm.” Louise Erdrich
“If the mountains were actually ennobling I would have noticed it by now. Everyone who can read comics is aware of the truly indigenous people of the West. We came much later, led by the US Cavalry and the railroads. As the cranky old lady at the grocer’s said, ‘The West wasn’t settled by nice people.’” Jim Harrison
“The West is about dirt. Good dirt. Rich dirt. Thick dirt. Lots of dirt. Dirt defines me. I write dirty stories.
My people came from places where dirt was used up, the land was too crowded, or there wasn’t enough. My grandfathers emigrated from rural Japan; they were second sons from small, struggling farms, and the property would not be passed on to them. So they searched for new dirt and found it in America’s West.” David Masumoto
Stirring it Up with Molly Ivins by Ellen Sweets
If you aren’t familiar with Molly you should know one thing off the bat….she was a badass. [Amen.] She was also a hilarious writer, a civil libertarian, a thorn in George W Bush’s side (she called him “shrub,” as in "little bush"), a rabble rouser (in the best sense of the word), and Molly, well she enjoyed a cocktail.
What is lesser known is that Molly Ivins was an excellent cook; she picked up most of her skills in France. This book is an insider’s look at the lesser-known Molly, the chef who lovingly prepared elaborate meals from scratch for her closest friends. The book gives you a seat at the table to learn about the woman behind the public figure. As a very cool bonus the book contains over 30 of Molly’s favorite recipes. This story is told by Ellen Sweets, who was a close friend of Molly’s for years and years. She was often in the kitchen with Molly so this is a true behind the scenes look at this amazing, powerful woman.
We lost Molly to cancer in 2007, and I can’t help but wonder what she would be writing about as our Governor runs for President. The thought of it really makes me smile. [It might be drafts of her citizenship denunciation. I may be projecting.]