Viva Texas Rivers! takes up where John Graves (Goodbye to a River) left off – as a lyrical tribute to the rivers in all sections of Texas.
Collected and edited by Steven L. Davis and Sam L. Pfiester and supported by the The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, this wonderful volume is subtitled “Adventures, Misadventures, and Glimpses of Nirvana along Our Stories Waterways.” That’s a mouthful, but pretty much describes it.
The book is divided geographically into five sections, covering the rivers that run primarily through East Texas, Central Texas, North Texas, West Texas, and South Texas. Each section begins with a triple-page color foldout map showing the rivers in that region.
Davis and Pfiester put together an all-star Texas literary lineup of contributors of essays, observations, and poems – including Joe Lansdale, Gary Cartwright, John Graves, Walt McDonald, Leon Hale, Stephen Harrigan, Joe Nick Patoski, Naomi Nye, John Erickson, Pat Mora, J. Frank Dobie, Larry McMurtry, Elmer Kelton, Sandra Cisneros, Jan Reid, and so many, many more noted Texas authors.
This is a book to read, to cherish, to keep, and it makes a very nice gift. ($29.95 hardcover)
Post Office Murals: Another keeper that is back in stock at Texas Star Trading is The Texas Post Office Murals: Art for the People by Philip Parisi. Published by Texas A&M University Press in 2004, it’s now available in a flexbound editition for $29.95.
The art stems from the Great Depression, when artists were commissioned to create post office murals celebrating the lives, history, hopes, and dreams of ordinary Americans. In Texas alone, artists produced 106 artworks for 69 post offices and federal buildings, and many of those are still around today.
Thanks to Parisi, you can take the colorful, informative tour from the comfort of your favorite chair.
Children’s Book: This Is Texas, Y’all! The Lone Star State from A to Z by Misha Maynerick Blaise ($14.95 hardback) is probably the best alphabet book about Texas. It’s been out four or five years, and we haven’t seen a better one – before or since.
Whereas most alphabet books mention one or two items per letter, this one offers ten or so creative and informative blurbs for each letter – attractively illustrated.
For example, the author devotes four pages to the letter S, with mentions of sweet tea, Santa Gertrudis cattle, the San Jacinto monument, snakes, slab cars (hip-hop on wheels), sopaipillas, St. Martin’s Catholic Church (the world’s smallest Catholic Church), Sam Houston, square dancing, and a special all-female Texas Supreme Court in 1925.
Under the letter W are whooping crane, western swing, whiskey, Waterloo (which became Austin), wild hogs, wind energy, and two colorful pages of wildflowers.
Children of all ages – as well as parents and grandparents – will no doubt learn something about Texas from this book that they didn’t know before.