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Arts & Entertainment

The 10 Best Books Written by Dallas Authors in 2021

Will Evans of Deep Vellum and Javier Garcia del Moral of the Wild Detectives offer their favorite local books of the year.
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The Wild Detectives, in Bishop Arts. Elizabeth Lavin

As we approach the end of the year, we asked Will Evans, founder of the bookstore and publisher Deep Vellum, and Javier Garcia del Moral, founder of The Wild Detectives bookstore and bar in Bishop Arts, for their favorite books written by local authors in 2021. Among their selections are poetry collections about growing up in Texas, personal essays about Dallas Mavericks superstar Dirk Nowitzki by D’s own Zac Crain, and a book that reevaluates precious Texas history.

Skip Amazon and pick these up from independent bookstores instead: Deep Vellum Books, Interabang, and The Wild Detectives. Happy Reading!

The Collection Plate

Kendra Allen (HarperCollins, July 2021)

“Through Allen’s watchful eyes, we explore privilege, misogyny, generational trauma, Black girlhood, systemic violence inequality, as well as a speaker unafraid to tell us the truth no matter how terrified we might be to hear it (via Electric Lit.)”

Welcome to Midland

Logen Cure (Deep Vellum Publishing, August 2021)

“At the start of the book, Cure writes that, for her narrator, Midland is a town where all the roads end. But this might not be true—Midland is where her narrator grew, a town she eventually kissed goodbye. By the end, we realize that perhaps Midland was a town where the roads began (via Texas Observer.)”

The Pledge

Kathleen Kent (Mulholland Brooks, November 2021)

“Strong women, sharp dialogue, and a vulnerable, kick-ass heroine combine for another satisfying adventure (via Kirkus Reviews.)

The Tiny Bee That Hovers at the Center of the World

David Searcy (Random House Trade Paperbacks, July 2021)

“Seeing slant, for Searcy as for Emily Dickinson, can be revelatory. In lyrical, tender prose, Searcy recalls cherished friends, family memories (a troubled daughter haunts some pieces), and capricious travels through place and time in search of wonder (via Kirkus Reviews.)

I See You Big German: Dirk Nowitzki and What He Means to Dallas (And Me)

Zac Crain (Deep Vellum Publishing, June 2021)

“Well, for one thing, there is the fact that he was around for so many of those milestones, you know? You can’t do that with a lot of other players because there just isn’t anyone else who spent 21 seasons with the same team, in the same city. But, of course, the other part is Dirk. He never really held himself above anyone. And he was remarkably open in talking about his fears and frustrations, just like you or I might do about our jobs or our lives. It’s easy to see yourself in someone who has that kind of vulnerability. I don’t really know what it’s like to hit a game-winning shot, but I do know what it’s like to screw up and be bummed about it.” (via Mavs Moneyball.)

Penny Candy: A Confection

Jonathan Norton (Deep Vellum Publishing, December 2021)

“Jonathan Norton’s Penny Candy is first and foremost great storytelling, filled with plot turns and other lively action that never seem contrived. Set in an era when drugs and gang violence were becoming problems anew in the inner city — in this case Dallas’ Pleasant Grove, where Norton grew up in the 1980s — its character are vividly drawn without ever falling into caricature or cliché” (via Dallas Morning News.)

Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth

Bryan Burrough, Chris Tomlinson and Jason Stanford (Penguin Press, June 2021)

“And yet, as Bryan Burrough, Chris Tomlinson and Jason Stanford explain, the myth of Alamo martyrdom — what they call the ‘Heroic Anglo Narrative’ — predominated within Texas for generations.” (via Washington Post.)

The Accommodation: The Politics of Race in an American City

Jim Schutze (Deep Vellum Publishing, September 2021)

“I speak of the accommodation between the old White oligarchy and certain elected southern Dallas leadership. It’s a marriage made not in heaven, used to foist off on the city every obsolete, old-school, bad idea in the book, from building one bad highway along the river to refusing to tear down another between downtown and Deep Ellum.” (via D Magazine.)

Forces of Nature: The Women who Changed Science

Anna Reser and Leila Mcneil (Frances Lincoln, May 2021)

“For women, they note, participating in science [“was a constant clawing at the edges of spaces where they were not permitted,”] and the authors survey how women have shaped scientific discovery in ways not captured by traditional historical archives.” (via Publishers Weekly.)

Jack Ruby and the Origins of the Avant-Garde in Dallas & Other Stories

Robert Trammell (Deep Vellum Publishing, December 2021)

“Here, Jack is a major supporter of local culture and something of a reprobate, with an equal interest in art and exotic dancers. Trammell’s riffs on Ruby and the less glamorous corners of Dallas coalesce into a winning portrait.” (via Publisher’s Weekly)


Taylor Crumpton

Taylor Crumpton

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Taylor Crumpton is the online arts editor for FrontRow, D Magazine’s arts and entertainment blog. She is a proud Dallasite…

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