The Best of Texas

We had a winning weekend here at Malvern Books. Or, more precisely, we had a weekend of winners—the winners of the Texas Association of Authors’ third annual Book Awards Contest stopped by on Saturday and Sunday to read from their victorious works and answer questions from curious audience members. 

On Saturday afternoon, general fiction winner Myra Hargrave McIlvain (below left) read from Stein House, the story of early settlers in Matagorda Bay, Texas during the American Civil War and Reconstruction periods. Multi-cultural fiction winner Jedah Mayberry (below right) read from The Unheralded King of Preston Plains Middle, an intriguing and thoughtful coming of age novel.

Myra McIlvain and Jedah Mayberry

Civil War historical fiction winner Robert Stevens (below left) read from Master Robert, a suspenseful account of plantation life during the War. And poetry winner R. Flowers Rivera (below right) read from Troubling Accents, an honest and accomplished collection that deserves to be widely read. 

Robert Stevens and R. Flowers Rivera

Check out the footage of Saturday’s readers below—and for a glimpse of Sunday’s equally impressive award-winners, be sure to take a look at these videos (via the Texas Association of Authors’ YouTube channel), in which the authors ponder the question, “Why do I write?” You can also visit us on Facebook for more photos from Saturday’s event. Congratulations to all these deserving winners, and thanks to y’all for sharing your wonderful work with us.

New In Store: Merwin & More

Nothing makes us happier here at Malvern than frantically tearing open carefully unpacking a shipment of lovely new books—and these recent arrivals from Copper Canyon Press certainly produced an immoderate amount of booksellers’ glee. Copper Canyon have been publishing poetry since 1972, and their titles include renowned and emerging American poets, poetry in translation, anthologies, and re-issues of classic collections. Let’s take a look at the cream of the Copper now gracing our shelves…

New Books 1

The Moon before Morning by W.S. Merwin ($24; hardback)—a stunning new collection from our seventeenth Poet Laureate. Lyrical, elegant, and transcendent, the poems in this volume suggest that, at the age of eighty-six, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Merwin is writing some of the best poetry of his life.

Upgraded to Serious by Heather McHugh ($22; hardback)—McHugh’s eighth collection was honored as a “Book of the Year” by Publishers Weekly. These poems are frank and funny, full of fast-paced banter and linguistic acrobatics.

Radio Crackling, Radio Gone by Lisa Olstein ($15; paperback)—winner of Copper Canyon’s 2005 Hayden Carruth Award for New Emerging Poets, Radio Crackling creates a dreamscape filled with paradox and uncertainty, and guides the reader through this eerie world with remarkable intelligence and energy.

New In 2

Human Dark with Sugar by Brenda Shaughnessy ($15; paperback)—winner of the James Laughlin Award for the best second book of poems by an American poet (no sophomore slump here!), Human Dark with Sugar shuns sentimentality in favor of forthright, sexy, self-aware verse that somehow feels both playfully improvisational and assiduously controlled.

Crow with No Mouth by Ikkyū ($14; paperback)—Fifteenth-century Zen master Ikkyū Sojun only lasted nine days as headmaster of the great temple at Kyoto… and when he quit he invited his fellow monks to look for him in the sake parlors of the Pleasure Quarters. His short poems are as bawdy and robust as you’d expect from an iconoclastic ex-monk who despised authority and revered erotic love.

The Monster Loves His Labyrinth by Charles Simić ($14; paperback)—a collection of the 2007 U.S. Poet Laureate’s notebook entries, this book offers a fascinating glimpse into the preoccupations of one of our most acclaimed poets. These epigrams and vignettes offer moments of stunning beauty interspersed with biting humor.

Lauren Becker Book Launch

If I Would Leave Myself BehindLast Thursday we were delighted to get out ye olde blue stacking chairs for a celebratory event: the launch of Lauren Becker’s debut short story collection, If I Would Leave Myself BehindIf you like your fiction fearless, funny, and profound, then this is the book for you. And you don’t have to take our word for it—Malvern favorite Joshua Mohr, author of the brilliant Fight Song, says Lauren “knows how to mix that perfect cocktail—equal parts pathos and elegant insight, with just a splash of humor.”

Lauren was joined on our stage by two top blokes: Malvernite Tyler Gobble (below center), who admirably took on the roles of both MC and reader, and Josh Denslow (below right), who plays drums in the electro-pop band Borrisokane when he’s not writing awesome fiction. You can watch all three of them in action below. And don’t forget to check out our events calendar for upcoming excitements—we’ve got a lively summer ahead of us!

Lauren, Tyler, Josh

Borderlands Takes Off

BorderlandsIf you haven’t picked up a copy of the latest Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, you’re missing out—and you really should come to Malvern Books at once and rectify this shameful situation! Issue #40 is beautifully produced and chock-full of awesome poetry, reviews, essays and photography. Highlights include new work from Laurie Ann Guerrerowinner of the 2012 Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize and author of the collection A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying (also reviewed in this issue), and photography from Joel Salcido, including the issue’s stunning cover photo, Atotonilco el Alto.

But you don’t have to take my word for the brilliance of Borderlands, because the lovely folks from the journal held a launch party at Malvern Books on Sunday afternoon, with music, readings, and art—and we have a ton of fantastic footage from the event to share with you! Check it out, and then come stock up on your weekend reading.

TOPSY / Fontenot / White

What a fabulous Friday night at Malvern Books! We kicked things off with some lively cabaret from one of our favorite local bands, TOPSY. Our heartiest thanks to band members Joy Beth, Brett Reeves, Mario Gonzalez, and Cephas Wozencraft for sharing their hoppin’ honky-tonk with us. It’s quite the feat to make a bunch of reticent book nerds tap their toes to the music and emit the occasional (shy) holler—but TOPSY manage it every time! And if you’d like proof, do check out the footage below; I guarantee you’ll be bopping along enthusiastically in no time…

TOPSY are a tough act to follow, but writers Ken Fontenot and Lowell Mick White were up to the challenge. Ken can frequently be found browsing our Malvernian shelves, and it was a joy to finally have him share some of his words with us!

Lowell Mick White is a long-time Austinite who now finds himself living in the fine state of Kansas, teaching creative writing and literature at Pittsburg State University. We’re very glad he stopped by to visit Malvern Books on a trip to dear ol’ TX.

Queen Cocaine

Craving a little end-of-week literary excitement? Malvernite Adam has an adventurous reading recommendation for you…

Queen CocaineThe novel Queen Cocaine by Spanish journalist Nuria Amat tells the story of Wilson Cervantes, a Marxist journalist in Colombia, and his girlfriend Rat, a young writer originally from Barcelona. The pair are forced to go on the lam after Wilson writes unfavorable articles about the Colombian government. They endure countless hardships while hiding out in a remote seaside cabin during the country’s brutal drug war. Whether it’s the paramilitary police burning down the nearby coca fields, the ruthless drug dealers fighting over territory, or the state’s Guerrilla army performing random executions, the plot never loses momentum in this exciting novel. There is not a dull moment for the protagonists, with the story shifting from moments of intimacy to sheer horror in a matter of minutes. A definite must-read for fans of adventure novels.