Texas Tech University Press Sets Annual Literary Lubbock Event

Ten authors will share their stories during the annual benefit dinner.

Written by Cory Chandler

What do Texas wildflowers, crimes of passion, and baseball have in common? Besides making for fascinating dinner conversation, each is the subject of a book recently published by Texas Tech University Press (TTUP).

Authors of these books are among 10 who will share their stories during the annual Literary Lubbock benefit dinner. The event supports the Grover E. Murray Studies in the American Southwest, a book series honoring Texas Tech’s former president.

“This evening has become a signature literary event in Lubbock,” said Robert Mandel, director of TTUP. “For people who love books, Literary Lubbock gives them a unique chance to talk with a wide variety of authors, hear their stories and find out about their writing experiences.”

Literary Lubbock 2010 begins at 5:30 p.m. April 30 in the Frazier Alumni Pavilion on the Texas Tech campus. Authors will sign books during a reception, which features local wines, followed by a meal designed by Texas Tech’s Chef Rocky Rockwell.

Lubbock writer and musician Andy Wilkinson will host the event. Tickets are $55 apiece and $440 for a table of eight and are available from TTUP at (806) 742-2982 through April 26.  All featured books will be available for purchase via cash, check or bank card at 30 percent off the retail price.

The following are featured authors for Literary Lubbock 2010:

Amid the political upheaval of 1971, stitchery expert Carmen Benavente returned to her native Chile to find much of her family’s farmland expropriated and resentment fomenting against former landowners. Determined to bridge alienation, she offered to teach wool embroidery, a nontraditional art, to village women. “Embroiderers of Ninhue: Stitching Chilean Rural Life” tells of a remarkable group of women empowered creatively and economically, whose work stands today among the most evocative of Chilean arts. Born, raised and educated in Santiago, Chile, teacher and lecturer Benavente now lives in Indiana. She is donating her book’s profits to relief efforts for Chilean earthquake victims.

Texas Tech alumnus Jerry Craft recounts his experiences in the 1950s as a white baseball pitcher recruited for the West Texas Colored League in “Our White Boy,” co-authored by Kathleen Sullivan of Arlington. Out of Craft’s two seasons with the Wichita Falls/Graham Stars comes an unlikely story of respect, character, humor and ultimately friendship as black and white teammates came together to succeed in a game they loved. Craft, a rancher and businessman and a former mayor of Jacksboro, lives in Jacksboro and operates ranches in Texas and New Mexico.

Award-winning California author Tim Z. Hernandez sets his coming-of-age novel  “Breathing, In Dust”in a fictional California farming community where the desperate realities of poverty, drug abuse, violence and bigotry play out in the lives of cucarachas and coyotes, tweakers and strippers, wetbacks and white trash. Within this land of pain and plenty a 17-year-old Hispanic youth dares to dream, sensing that within the cruel beauty that surrounds him he may find his own redemption.

Rebecca Jumper Matheson of New York City, a former research assistant at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has studied what the ubiquitous sunbonnet reveals about twentieth-century American fashion, culture and ideals, as well as class- and race-related issues. In “The Sunbonnet: An American Icon in Texas” she details materials and methods of sunbonnet construction, care and design, and also includes oral histories and arresting primary source images.

Former attorney Bill Neal of Abilene completes his award-winning trilogy of criminal justice histories with “Sex, Murder, and the Unwritten Law: Courting Judicial Mayhem, Texas Style.” From the 1880s until after World War I in Texas, “unwritten law” seemed to justify the killing – or at least maiming – of almost anyone who by actual physical contact or inappropriate comment offended southern notions of female virtue, male honor or sanctity of marriage. Neal explores the imaginative machinations of lawyers who extricated obviously guilty clients when there appeared no legal basis upon which to peg a defense – courtroom triumphs remarkable to lawyers, historians and laypersons alike.

In “Lone Star Wildflowers: A Field Guide to Texas Flowering Plants”LaShara J. Nieland and Willa F. Finley present nearly 500 of the state’s wildflower species in descriptions and full-color photographs. “Lone Star Wildflowers” offers easy identification through color grouping and a wealth of insight, from the origin of scientific and common names to growth cycles, uses, history and native lore. Finley, a native of Floydada, has worked in agriculture research and in agribusiness in the Middle East and Africa. Nieland, a native of Big Spring, taught honors biology in Abilene and Odessa for 27 years.

Seattle-area novelist Randall Platt writes fiction for adults and young adults – and those who don’t own up to being either. In her latest historical novel for young adults, “Hellie Jondoe,” spunky Bowery urchin and pickpocket Hellie is coerced into heading west on an orphan train during the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak – but her plans to jump track are derailed. Indentured to work on a remote Oregon ranch, she meets her match but also meets friends in unexpected places. There’s a time to cut and run, a time to stay and fight. Choosing which is right takes savvy, guts and heart . . . and Hellie must dig down deep.

Fort Worth resident and golf tournament manager Dennis Roberson puts his lifelong love of dominoes on the page in “Winning 42: Strategy and Lore of the National Game of Texas,” a treasure trove for the veteran domino player and an indispensable guide for the beginner. Replete with history, championship statistics, and stories from veteran players and strategists,the book illumines a cherished tradition that links Texans from all walks of life.

All authors are available for media interviews. Further information on the authors and their books, as well as photographs and book cover art, is available at the web pages provided.

For more information on Literary Lubbock 2010 or to arrange sponsorship or reserve tickets, contact Barbara Brannon, marketing manager, Texas Tech University Press, (806) 742-2982 or barbara.brannon@ttu.edu.