Houston Veteran Authors Share Their Stories About the Forever War

June 19, 2017, by

Bigger Forever WarAs many of us know, writers are the true chroniclers of our history. Through their written pieces we learn about the complexities and varied lived experiences of a particular time and place. And often times—more than facts and figures—the stories, voices, challenges, and emotions of a character or a scenario stay with us long past the written piece has ended.

On Thursday, Brazos Bookstore presents a panel discussion about war fiction with three contributors to the 2017 veteran fiction anthology The Road Ahead: Fiction from the Forever War. American troops have been on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan for over a decade. This anthology, including the stories of more than 20 diverse veteran writers, gives readers a look at the aftereffects of the war, a war that continues on today. Kirkus Reviews calls it “an anthology of stories covering a literary terrain as expansive as the seemingly endless ‘war on terror’ that spawned it. These stories provide plenty of revelation on the nature of the war and the soldiers who continue to fight it.” According to Task & Purpose, the anthology “captures the truth about war better than nonfiction. It’s possible―likely even―that these pages from a handful of writers will come to define the warrior perspective for this generation. For that reason, this book is relevant. Its stories are tragic, moving, violent, and devastating, but not always in the ways one expects. It’s enough to enlighten those most insulated from the war.”

We asked Michael Carson, one of the contributors to the anthology who will be at Brazos on Thursday, a few questions about this project. Continue reading

Our Endless Love for Jane

June 8, 2017, by

summerofaustenpostcardOn June 9th Brazos Bookstore will kick off its Summer of Jane Austen celebration with a party and a screening of Persuasion at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s Rienzi House. The screening is just one of nearly a dozen events Brazos has lined up from June through August to commemorate the ever-popular author and the 200th anniversary of her death. And, undoubtedly, Ms. Austen should be celebrated with her wonderfully mordant humor, pioneering of Realism, use of free indirect discourse, and focus on strong female characters.

However, there’s something about her that other historically-renowned authors—and even other timeless artists, politicians, and scientists—don’t have, and that’s namely the continued ability to enamor the public. She simply has a quality that gets at us, which makes us want to celebrate her consistently and widely.  For instance, here are but a few examples of the unique space we confer to her.  Continue reading

Imagine Wanting Only An Evening of Conversation Between Smart Writers

May 8, 2017, by

Upright and cropped IMG_9270On Monday, May 1, Kristen Radke, author of the newly released graphic memoir-inquiry-novel Imagine Wanting Only This, spoke to Houston’s own beloved, award-winning poet and writer Nick Flynn at Brazos Bookstore.

Radke began the event by expressing her “admiration for booksellers.” She is the managing editor of the popular indie press Sarabande, so is familiar with both sides of the book industry. She also explained that Imagine Wanting Only This is “about ruins and abandoned places.” She decided to read an excerpt from the very end and “give it all away.” The section, a monologue, read like poetry in its pacing and probing of abstract ideas. A slideshow of the accompanying illustrations was also played.

Radke then sat with Flynn, who asked about her role as an illustrator and a writer. She admitted that while she studied commercial art as an undergrad and creative nonfiction at the University of Iowa in graduate school, she essentially taught herself how to combine her two passions. As her project continued, she did her research. When Flynn asked which women comics she liked, she answered straightforwardly “every woman who’s ever been a comic” and touched the pop cultural history of comics as a boys’ club with women typically portrayed as “anatomically incorrect.” Continue reading

Colson Whitehead makes Houston visit, talks childhood, writing, disco, and more

March 29, 2017, by

upIMG_8906In an event co-sponsored by Brazos Bookstore and Rice University’s Humanities Research Center, National Book Award-winning author of The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead, delivered a compelling and improvisational talk on Tuesday, March 21 at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in the Museum District. After taking an audibly refreshing sip of water, Colson Whitehead launched into a familiar bit. “I was born of poor black child…” he began. The few nerds that instantly recognized the introductory soliloquy from Steve Martin’s cult classic The Jerk knew we were in for a wild ride.

He vividly described his childhood in Manhattan, jokingly referring to himself as “a shut-in reading comic books.” From a relatively early age he knew he wanted to be a writer, and more specifically, “to write the black Shining.” His continued devotion to science fiction and horror, among the other genre writing, signals his crossover appeal.

Whitehead proceeded chronologically to his teenage years during which he “wore black and smoked cigarettes…but never touched a computer.” He discussed his big break in journalism, observing that he wrote the “definitive think-pieces on Growing Pains and Who’s the Boss.” Continue reading

Gulf Coast celebrates 30 years at Lawndale Art Center

January 21, 2017, by

GC 30th Anniversary - Smith readingThis week we talked to poet, Inprint blogger, and University of Houston Creative Program graduate student Erika Jo Brown about Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature & Fine Arts’ 30th anniversary celebration coming up Saturday, January 21, 7 pm, Lawndale Art Center, 4912 Main Street. Since its inception, Inprint has been proud to support Gulf Coast, one of the nation’s reputed literary journals, which also holds readings and other activities. 

INPRINT: Congratulations on 30 years! For our readers that do not know a lot about Gulf Coast, please tell us about the journal, the organization, and all of the things you do.

ERIKA: Thank you! I’m pleased to work for Gulf Coast as a poetry editor and the reading series curator.  Gulf Coast was founded by Donald Barthelme and Phillip Lopate. We’re an arts and literary journal, run by very dedicated graduate students in the University of Houston Creative Writing Program (UH CWP). The print journal comes out each April and October. Recently, Gulf Coast merged with Art Lies. Unlike many lit journals, we’re committed to exploring visual art criticism, scholarship, and dialogues.  Continue reading

Poet Sharon Olds made it back to Houston this fall

December 15, 2016, by

up right IMG_7651As 2016 comes to close, Inprint marvels at all the wonderful literary events that took place over the fall months. In November, Brazos Bookstore hosted a reading by poet Sharon Olds.

Olds was scheduled to appear in the 2015/2016 Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series with poet and University of Houston Creative Writing Program faculty member Tony Hoagland. Due to the Tax Day Flood in April, the reading had to be cancelled. A video was made that day during a break in the rain, featuring a reading and conversation between Olds and Hoagland, and Houston poet Martha Serpas in a private home. You can watch that reading here as part of the Inprint Archive of Readings. We were thrilled that Sharon Olds made it back to Houston this fall via Brazos Bookstore so her fans could  see her in real time. Here Inprint blogger Erika Jo Brown tells us about this memorable evening.

Appropriately, Sharon Olds’ reading at Christ Church Cathedral was preceded by the choir practice of tweens. Olds is revered—and occasionally controversial—for her delicate and unconventional poems about female sexual awakening and motherhood, among other topics.

On this night, she was introduced by Houston novelist Chris Cander, who extoled Olds’ “incomparable gifts of description” and lauded her latest collection, Odes, as a meditation on “what it feels like to occupy a mature woman’s body, mind and spirit.”

Continue reading

Rabih Alameddine & Juan Gabriel Vásquez talk about fiction teaching empathy and guarding our memories

December 6, 2016, by

Rabih at podiumOn November 21st, the Alley Theatre was already decked for the holidays. A grove of themed trees in the lobby welcomed the Inprint Margaret Root Brown Reading Series for the final performance of the year. Inside, Rabih Alameddine and Juan Gabriel Vásquez read from their novels on the dormant set of A Christmas Carol, and artificial flurries escaped from their rigging throughout.

Though the theater looked towards Christmas, both Alameddine and Vásquez spoke towards the gratitude and displacement so many of us experience on the Thanksgiving weekend, whether or not we return home or reconnect with loved ones. Their words were melancholy and reflective. Alameddine’s The Angel of History spoke of loneliness and makeshift family; the narrator tells his lost love, “you left me roofless in a downpour.” Vásquez prefaced his reading by explaining the words he would read were not his own, and while he thanked his translator, compared the experience to reading someone else’s work. Continue reading

Donald Barthelme’s Snow White comes to the stage

November 8, 2016, by

Snow White for eblast image004While most of us will focus on electoral theatrics until late Tuesday, The Catastrophic Theatre, Inprint, and Brazos Bookstore will be there to raise the curtains, come what may, on Wednesday night.

In partnership with Inprint and Brazos Bookstore, Catastrophic Theatre will give a staged reading of Donald Barthelme’s novel Snow White this Wednesday, November 9th at 7:00 pm. The performance will take place at Brazos Bookstore, and is free and open to the public. Join us if you can, and stay tuned—this is only a preview of the complete adaptation set to run next year!

The full production will open in early April to honor Donald Barthelme, who played a key role in establishing Houston as a vital center for the literary arts. Inprint Executive Director Rich Levy recalled the piece as read by the Alley Theatre actors, which he described as “brilliant and funny and irreverent [..].” He felt a full adaptation would be an ideal way to bring the author’s fans together, and “Luckily,” he told us, “Katharine Barthelme [Barthelme’s daughter] and Greg Dean (of Catastrophic) were equally thrilled!” Continue reading

Writing Under the Same Roof: Two Houston Writers Talk Fiction, Love, and Utopia

September 26, 2016, by

PrintAllegra Hyde and Alex McElroy met while completing their MFAs in Fiction at Arizona State University. They married upon graduating in spring 2015, and then spent the following year in Bulgaria, where Allegra completed a Fulbright Grant. This past summer, they settled in Houston, so that Alex could begin studies as a PhD candidate in Fiction at the University of Houston.

Allegra’s first book, Of This New World, recently won the 2016 John Simmons Iowa Short Fiction Award. She will be launching the book this Monday, October 3rd, at 7:00 PM at Brazos Bookstore. To mark the occasion, Allegra and Alex sat down to discuss the collection, writing as a couple, and their burgeoning love for Houston.

ALEX McELROY: What’s it like to bring out your first book in a city that’s still very new to you? Continue reading

Mary Beard as our Virgil

September 21, 2016, by

Smaller Mary Beard photo 1 IMG_7189On first meeting celebrated historian Mary Beard, I was struck by two observations. 1) She has the most impeccable, chirpy, and patrician British accent I’ve ever heard, and 2) she wears the flyest kicks—gold-colored, metal-studded sneakers—I’ve ever seen. Her life’s work bears this dual legacy. She is an Oxbridge-trained professor of classics and author of over a dozen well-received books, as well as an approachable public intellectual, who writes a popular blog and frequently appears on “telly” as a commentator on all manner of news stories.

Mary Beard read at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Houston on Sunday, September 18, as part of a partnership with Brazos Bookstore. Before there were such categories as “creative nonfiction” or “memoir,” there were chronicles of the time, and Romans documented activities both contemporaneous and ancient. She presented an engaging talk, complete with photo documentation, on the subject of her newest history SPQR.

Beard first described her personal investment in Roman history by detailing a visit in 1973 to the eternal city. What struck her most was not the ancient remains or the Renaissance art, but the SPQR emblem still stamped on manhole covers, door handles, and garbage cans. Representing the Latin phrase for the Roman Senate and People, it is the longest running acronym in the history of the world. Continue reading