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Arts Word on the street


News and notes from the San Antonio Literary scene

Lee Merrill Byrd and Bobby Byrd, heads of El Paso’s Cinco Puntos Press’ publishing family, were in town last month for the American Library Association conference, and among the good news they had to share was that both Byrds have new books on the way. Riley’s Fire, by Lee, is a lyrical and wrenching tale about a young boy’s recovery from a catastrophic fire, based in part on true events. It is being published in May by Algonquin Books. Bobby has produced another book of poetry, which like its predecessors has an ear-catching, imagination-firing name. White Panties, Dead Friends, & Other Bits & Pieces of Love will be available from Cinco Puntos in April.

You can get your hands on a brand-new Cinco Puntos release March 11, at the Current’s 20th-anniversary Books Night at the Huebner Oaks Borders, 11745 I-10 West, when Texas Chocktaw storyteller Tim Tingle will read from and sign copies of his gorgeously illustrated book, Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship & Freedom. Austin author Elizabeth Crook will also read from her new historical mystery, The Night Journal, published by Viking.

As of press time, tickets were still available for the taping of National Public Radio’s Selected Shorts, the acclaimed radio program featuring actors reading short stories, 8 p.m. Saturday, February 25, at Temple Beth-El, 211 Belknap. Malachy McCourt (brother of Frank) and Kathleen Chalfant will join host Isaiah Sheffer for readings of work by Roald Dahl, James Thurber, and Teolinda Gersâo. $25 general admission; $20 Texas Public Radio and Gemini Ink members. Call (800) 622-8977 or visit

In The Ethical Assassin, local author David Liss’ latest book, young Lem Altick, a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman in rural Florida, witnesses the murder of a couple he’s been pitching. Soon Altick finds himself entrenched in the intrigue, forming unlikely friendships with the charismatic assassin and a sexy, meth-addicted, formerly conjoined twin, all the while dodging a crooked police chief who wants him dead. Liss will read from the book at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 2, at Barnes & Noble, 321 NW Loop 410. Info: 342-0008.

Local poet and writer Jenny Browne received an honorable mention in the 14th Annual Austin Chronicle Short Story Contest, for “How to Make a Piñata.” The story relates the thoughts of a single mother with Stage lV cancer as she builds a piñata, at once metaphor for her tumor and her daughter, and fills it with the things her daughter will need to survive life without a mother. To read the story, visit

By Elaine Wolff and Susan Pagani

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