Books I’ve liked a lot include Townie, by Andre Dubus III, which I bought years ago and finally read. Dubus is a venerated so called literary writer, an ex-bare knuckles fighter, and he lived in Austin for a while in the early seventies and was affected by the experience, which is saying a lot, since this book is largely about the mixed legacy of his father and growing up on the mean streets in a very different corner of the country.

I’ve been reading a lot of things by Jean Cocteau lately, mostly play scripts, movie scripts, and the first volume of his diaries. The diaries are swell and I love them for the tone, attitude, names, context, and even his quirky non-grammatical writing, which means, oftentimes, bursts of images or ideas or pronouncements that don’t bother with conventional structure, and such structure is not missed.

Jean Cocteau, 1889 – 1963, artist of many stripes., from Jesse Sublett's Little Black Book.

Jean Cocteau, 1889 – 1963, artist of many stripes.


Here’s something I recommend on Youtube: Jean Cocteau speaking to the year 2,000 (I know, that was 14 years ago) from the year 1962, the year before his death.

I also like this a lot. Portions of Cocteau’s silent “Blood of a Poet” as a music video with Massive Attack.

I’m still reading The Good Rat, by Jimmy Breslin. What a great book. My kind of book, which is great writing about bad people who do terrible things but they’re interesting. You’d think that with my crime aficionado status I would have read this one and all of Jimmy’s previous titles, but this is my first one and next I’m going to read all the others, possible starting with “The Gang Who Couldn’t Shoot Straight.”

We are still a little shaken by Sunday night’s episode of Ray Donovan. We expect darkness, suspense, density, perversion, cynicism, etc. from this really intelligent and hip Showtime series starring Liev Schreiber and a bunch of other fine actors, including that right wing reprobate misanthrope, Jon Voight, but still, this one left us a little weirded out. Not because it wasn’t well-done in just about every way (OK, we really think the Boston reporter is lame)… Next Sunday, here goes nothing… (Did you know that Liev Schreiber’s Twitter (cited above) introduces him as “Hirsute actor type best known for his slavic fat pads and shockingly attractive children…”?

Jim Tully (1886 – 1947) writer, vagabond, pugilist, and not in that order, recommended by Jesse Sublett.

Jim Tully (1886 – 1947) writer, vagabond, pugilist, and not in that order.

Last two books before this, I devoured two by Jim Tully (June 3, 1886 – June 22, 1947)  in a row: “Beggars Abroad” and “Shanty Irish.” Like many of Tully’s novels, both are at least semi-autobiographical, and Tully’s life and career(s) were about 100x more varied, exciting and crazy than yours and mine. I’m not posting a link here because I’m not crazy about the ones I’ve found, but you can check his Wiki bio, which introduces him as “vagabond, pugilist, and American writer. His critical and commercial success in the 1920s and 30s may qualify him as the greatest long shot in American literature.” He’s definitely one of my favorites, living and dead. If in doubt, start with “The Bruiser” or “Circus Parade” and if you don’t like both of those, you can lose my number.

SELF SERVING ANNOUNCEMENT #1: Broke, Not Broken: Homer Maxey’s Texas Bank War, by Broadus A. Spivey & Jesse Sublett, published by Texas Tech Press, going into second printing. Come see us at the Texas Book Festival, Oct. 25-26, panel to be announced. I’ll be playing in the music tent, too. Like us on Facebook and come to our party at Threadgill’s North Lamar, Sun. 3-6 PM on Sept. 28, with Richard Zelade and his book, Guy Town by Gaslight, hosted by Eddie Wilson, books sold by BookPeople. Details here.

My next book will be titled something along the lines of “Austin Underworld: The Overton/James Gang, the Dixie Mafia, and the Sixties in the Capital City….” published by History Press Feb. 2015. (It’s not yet on the catalog).


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