Brief encounters with Ben Fountain

Award-winning author Ben Fountain, center, posed for a photo with extended family during the San Antonio Book Festival on April 6, 2019. (Courtesy photo / Barbara Cantrell)

It’s comforting to know that even some of the country’s most accomplished, popular authors still have their families visit them during book signings.

National Book Critics Circle Award winner Ben Fountain, one of the most lauded American writers since 2000 and the critical acclaim he received for his collection of short stories, Brief Encounters with Che Guevara. He was at the San Antonio Book Festival discussing his newest release, Beautiful Country Burn Again. The splashiest subject of the book is President Donald Trump, so that dominated much of his discussion. (I think my favorite quote from the discussion was, “You can’t con an honest person.”)

After he spoke, I went to the Barnes & Noble tent and bought a copy of Beautiful Country Burn Again for him to sign. I was third in line when Fountain and the three folks in front of him erupted in smiles and hugs. Fountain posed with an older gentleman and a younger man, then told those of us nearby: “Those are my cousins!”

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Book review: The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

The year is early, but The Broken Girls by Simone St. James is by far the best novel I’ve read in 2019 so far.

This is not your typical thriller, and I should point out that The Broken Girls has three elements that I enjoy in all novels, regardless of genre: a dual timeline, a creepy supernatural element, and journalists.

When authors like St. James do it correctly, the supernatural element does not impact the core plot events or explain a twist in the story, but rather adds to the tone and setting. And a story that features characters across two timelines who intersect in a thrilling, engaging climax and denouement, is right up my alley.

Both of these elements are masterfully inserted into this murder mystery whose main character, and her father, are journalists.

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UPDATE: Time announced for San Antonio signing

The schedule for the Writers’ League of Texas booth at the San Antonio Book Festival was released over the weekend, and I will be selling/signing books from 10 a.m. until 10:45 a.m. on April 6 at the WLT booth at the San Antonio Central Library, located at 600 Soledad St.

I will be at the booth with Jessica Hagemann, who recently released Headcheese, and Joan Moran with her novel, An Accidental Cuban.

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be a part of the San Antonio Book Festival, and I hope that those of you in the area on April 6 (a Saturday) can get there early and come see me!

Book Review: Where Fools Dare to Tread by David William Pearce

As with many good novels, Pearce introduces readers to a unique and interesting main character in Monk Buttman.

A self-proclaimed “nobody,” he’s forced to play the part of a private investigator after his real job as a courier for a law firm turns deadly. 

Buttman is as funny as his name suggests, but he’s more resourceful than even he might give himself credit for. 

The mystery he must solve gets larger and more complex as the story unfolds, and Pearce does a great job of tying Buttman’s tragic backstory to the mystery, and holding it back until it’s most emotionally impactful. 

And while the plot is solid and engaging, it’s the strength of Buttman’s personality that will carry readers through this novel. 

I would highly recommend this to readers who enjoy humor and a charismatic main character in their mystery novels.

Announcing my Spring 2019 Texas Book Tour!

We’ve been working to finalize the details, and while one time is still not quite scheduled, I’m incredibly pleased to announce the schedule for my Spring 2019 Texas Book Tour!

I will be signing copies of DEEP BACKGROUND (and giving one discussion) in two of the biggest cities in the lone star state, two book festivals, a Barnes & Noble and one of the hottest new local bookstores in West Texas.

I really can’t wait to get started seeing folks I know and meeting new friends on the road starting March 23 and going almost every weekend through April!

Tour dates