Book Notes by Glenn Dromgoole
Best-selling Texas novelist Steve Harrigan returns to fiction with his new novel, The Leopard Is Loose ($26 hardcover), based roughly on a true event of the 1950s when a leopard escaped from the zoo in Oklahoma City.
Writing as a man of 70 looking back on the event, Grady McClarty admits, “I was only five years old when the leopard escaped, so you’ll have to take that into account when judging the accuracy of these recollections.”
Harrigan, who went to elementary school in Abilene for a couple of years in 1950s, wrote what is now considered the best history of Texas, Big Wonderful Thing, published in 2019.
Merle Haggard bio
Marc Eliot – biographer of a number of celebrities such as Paul Simon, , Walt Disney, Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, Charlton Heston, and the Eagles – turns his attention to Merle Haggard in The Hag: The Life, Times, and Music of Merle Haggard ($30 hardcover).
Eliot says Haggard’s lyrics “clearly show that he was an American poet of the first rank, an original voice of the twentieth century, his melodies deceptively simple (until you try to sing them). Because he wrote songs rather than poems, he failed to receive the literary respect he deserved. “
Asa record producer Jack Clement once said, “There are two kinds of people: those who know about Merle Haggard and love him, and those that will.”
Haggard recorded more than 600 songs and wrote 250 of them. In an appendix, Eliot lists Haggard’s 38 hit singles that made it to No. 1 on the Billboard country chart.
ACU psychology professor Richard Beck, who leads a men’s Bible study for prison inmates and published a book in 2019 on the theology of Johnny Cash, has written a thought-provoking book, Hunting Magic Eels: Recovering an Enchanted Faith in a Skeptical Age ($24.99 hardcover).
Beck cites statistics showing that for the first time in U.S. history, there is a generation – the millennials — “the majority of whom don’t identify as Christians.” He says it is a “wake-up call for the church.”
“I want to tell you the story about the slow death of God in the West,” he opens, “how a world once filled with magic and miracles became disbelieving and doubting. While sad, this is a story you need to hear. Somehow, somewhere, we have lost our way. Let’s stop, retrace our steps, and figure out where we made the wrong turns.”
The book offers ideas on how believers and doubters can gain a new sense of enchantment and hope in their lives. The future, he suggests, is not as bleak as it may seem.
Check out these new books, and more, at Texas Star Trading Company.