The height of camp, ‘Valley of the Dolls,’ returns to Austin

Just 21 years ago, we wrote the following ode to one of our favorite movies, “Valley of the Dolls, when it appeared at the Paramount Theatre. Ten or so years later, we added commentary when a special showing for Stephen Moser played the original Alamo Drafthouse Cinema on Colorado Street.

On June 21, “V.O.D.” returns again, this time for a LGBTQ benefit at the Austin Film Society Cinema in the Linc. Don’t miss the 6 p.m. cocktail party or the 7:30 p.m. screening. You want a stiff drink before you see it. Benefits the Kind ClinicTickets here.


Rereading the 1997 article, it’s especially interesting to see what people thought were camp in 1967, when the show-biz movie came out, and what was considered camp in 1997 (see below). Do not fail to take the quiz at the end.

This ran in the American-Statesman in 1997:

Oscar Wilde. Joan Crawford. “The Wizard of Oz.”

Camp, that stylized, comic view of culture inspired by capricious fashion, nevertheless has fostered some indestructible icons. The range of campy relics runs from great art, such as Wilde’s comedies of language and manners, to great kitsch, like the Las Vegas groaner ``Showgirls.”

In 1967, the famously bad movie “Valley of the Dolls,” based on Jacqueline Susann‘s torrid best seller, earned instant camp status.

It has not gone away.

Thirty years later, k.d. lang has recorded the theme to “Valley of the Dolls,” the Los Angeles County Museum is showing “V.O.D.” as a cultural artifact and The New York Times reports surging interest in Susann, including parties and pageants devoted to the trash author.

Susann’s backstage saga about four women whose “appetite for life was greater than their capacity for living” was extravagant, artificial, mannered — elements related to the difficult-to-define camp sensibility.

“Camp taste turns its back on the good-bad axis of ordinary aesthetic judgment,” wrote Susan Sontag in her 1964 essay, “Notes on Camp.” “It doesn’t argue that the good is bad, or the bad is good. In clothing and interior decor, camp is when you are pushing the sensibility to the absurd.”

Not all camp revives outdated fashions, as in the current trend of adapting old corporate logos and advertising. The movie and book of “Valley of the Dolls,” for instance, joined the ready-made camp parade of the ’60s that included the TV series “Batman,” singer Nancy Sinatra and the fashions of Carnaby Street. (“Batman” was campy in a premeditated way; the other two were transformed in a flash.)

The movie of “V.O.D’ coyly depicts abuse of sex and drugs in show business. It was massacred by the critics and destroyed several acting careers, but it also spawned thousands of midnight showings for lovers of celluloid trash.

The film’s producers did not intend it that way.

Classy Andre Previn and his then-wife, Dory, composed the songs for “Valley of the Dolls,” John Williams scored them and pop singer Dionne Warwick — now experiencing a mini revival because of “My Best Friend’s Wedding” — recorded the omnipresent theme song. Serious, if in this case melodramatic actors, Patty Duke and Susan Hayward played key “V.O.D.” characters based on the trials and temperaments of Judy Garland and Ethel Merman.

Meant for greatness, it became pure camp, as Sontag defined it. “The pure examples of camp are unintentional; they are dead-serious,” she wrote.

Lovers of the movie have fanned the flame for years.

“For all those millions who thought they might go into show business, `V.O.D’ was the inside track on what it was really like,” said Austin Musical Theatre director Scott Thompson, who plans to see the movieat the Paramount. “As campy as it is, some of it rings true. Really nasty bitches who will throw you out of the show if you are too good. Major stars get through performances on whatever substances are available at the moment.”

Just as lines from the later pure-camp movie “Showgirls” have entered the popular vocabulary, sentences from “Valley of the Dolls” are mimicked for emphasis at theatrical parties:

“You’ve got to climb Mount Everest to reach the Valley of the Dolls.” (Delivered with mock calm.)

“So you come crawling back to Broadway … well Broadway doesn’t go for booze and pills.” (Mouth twisted into a Brooklyn accent.)

“Neeeelyyyy O’haaaaraaaa!!!!” (Screamed at top volume.)

Why would people quote regularly from a bad movie?

Perhaps because camp expressions add color to the ordinary, Sontag suggested. Campiness answers a cultural need to simulate and critique mainstream culture, simultaneously.

As Sontag put it, “(Camp) is the farthest extension, in sensibility, of the metaphor of life as theater.”

CAMP ’67 vs. CAMP ’97

1.Tiffany lamps vs. vinyl lamps from the ’70s

  1. “Batman” (TV series) vs. “AbFab”
  2. Novels of Ronald Firbank vs. Novels of Jackie Collins
  3. Hollywood art deco diners vs. Kon Tiki interiors
  4. Aubrey Beardsley drawings vs. Pat Nagel prints
  5. “Swan Lake”vs. “Riverdance”
  6. Bellini’s operas vs. sitcom spin-offs like “Phyllis”
  7. women’s clothing from the ’20s vs. women’s clothing from the ’70s
  8. Nancy Sinatra vs. RuPaul (but few other drag queens)
  9. old Flash Gordon comics vs. people dressed as corporate mascots
  10. “Queen for a Day” vs. “Talk Soup”
  11. hot Dr Pepper with lemon vs. Tab or Fresca
  12. “To Sir With Love” vs. “Grease” (the movie)
  13. “VALLEY OF THE DOLLS’ vs. “VALLEY OF THE DOLLS”

Valley of the Dolls Trivia Quiz

“You’ve got to climb _____ to reach the Valley of the Dolls”

a) every mountain

b) Sharon Tate

c) Mount Everest

What does Neely (Patty Duke) take to survive the training/rehearsal montage?

a) the A train

b) hot Dr Pepper with lemon

c) lots of “dolls,” i.e., amphetamines and barbiturates

Whose career was not ruined by — or soon after — the making of “V.O.D.?”

a) Patty Duke (OK, so 20 years later, she rebounded)

b) Sharon Tate (Manson’s gang murdered the beauty)

c) Barbara Parkins (frankly, she never had a career)

Which future Academy Award winner appears in a “V.O.D” bit part?

a) Ben Kingsley as the pool cleaner

b) George C. Scott as a drug pusher in drag

c) Richard Dreyfuss as a stagehand at Neely’s disastrous “comeback”

This is onstage while Helen (Susan Hayward) sings “I’ll Plant My Own Tree.”

a) a stately oak

b) a throbbing acorn

c) a giant, plastic mobile that defies the laws of physics

Demure Ann, played by Barbara Parkins, becomes _____.

a) “the It Girl”

b) “That Girl”

c) “the Gillian Girl,” patterned after “the Breck Girl”

Where do we hear a maudlin performance of “Come Live With Me,” one of several camp classics composed by Dory and Andre Previn for this film?

a) a women’s restroom, crooned to Helen’s flushed wig

b) on the beach, with surf rushing through Ann’s hair

c) a sanitarium that serves both a mortally ill singer and Neely in rehab

What does Jennifer (Sharon Tate) do to please her mother?

a)  bust exercises

b) send homethe profits from her French “art” films

c) both a and b

What sound effect is heard when Neely, in a climactic alley scene, screeches “Neeeelyyyy O’haaaaraaaa!!!!”?

a) Munchkins giggling

b) the sound of two hands clapping

c) church bells

What do critics call the “V.O.D.” for the ’90s?

a) “Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls” (1981 television movie)

b) any USA Channel made-for-cable movie

c) “Showgirls” (“I’m a dancer!”)

(The answer to all the above questions is “C.”)

 

 

 

Five things to know about the Texas Film Awards

Preposterously charming Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet — greeted by squeals of joy on the red carpet — were the big draws at the split-screen 2018 Texas Film Awards. Yet there was so much more to observe and savor before, during and after the inevitable celebrity highlights.

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Honorees Armie Hammer poses with presenter Timothée Chalamet on the red carpet for the 2018 Texas Film Awards  held at the AFS Cinema. Suzanne Cordeiro/ For American-Statesman

A-LIST PHOTOS: Texas Film Awards red carpet on March 8.

1. A moveable feast. In the past staged primarily at the Austin Film Society‘s hulking studios on the north side of the Mueller development, this year’s incarnation of the group’s most dazzling benefit was held in at least six locations. A welcome reception was held at a private home on Thursday. An honoree lunch and panel sponsored by Variety magazine took place Friday at the sparkling new Fairmont Austin Hotel, as was a VIP dinner for 100 or so guests later in the day. A red carpet and cocktail reception followed early in the evening inside a tent and in the lobby of the relatively new AFS Cinema at The Linc. Guests were split into two theaters, one for in-person action, the other for televised treats, for the Awards Ceremony. Then we all strolled to the cinema’s event room, decorated like a pop-up nightclub, for the After Party. Although not corralled into a traditional sit-down dinner during the ceremony, we were well-fed and -watered.

Richard Linklater, Paul Thomas Anderson and Armie Hammer arrive on the red carpet for the 2018 Texas Film Awards Suzanne Cordeiro/ For American-Statesman

2. Two new social magnets. We heard high praise for the Fairmont, Austin’s newest and largest hotel. John Paul DeJoria judged the steak the best he’d ever tasted at a social event like this one. His actress wife, Eloise DeJoria, and hometown film hero, Matthew McConaughey, fresh from his light-as-smoke “Beach Bum” project, joined him at an intimate table. Meanwhile, the AFS Cinema, called a “beacon of film culture” by AFS CEO Rebecca Campbell, but still unknown to most of the city, provided a suitable backdrop for the Awards Ceremony. “I think Austin is really growing up,” said entertainer and humanitarian Turk Pikpin as we headed from the tent to the lobby. (I will say that getting in and out of the movie theater rows during the multi-hour ceremony was a bit of a game for some of us.)

Timothée Chalamet poses with Riley Cummins. Suzanne Cordeiro/ For American-Statesman

3. Keeping it light. Many a regular gala guest dreads the live auction part of a benefit evening, unless lighting strikes and a rare combination of auctioneer, bidders and auction items is especially electrifying. AFS backer and Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith acknowledged as much when he rose to conduct the Fund a Filmmaker part of this gala. He was helped by young Augustine Frizzel, who gushed about her AFS grant and how it transformed her most recent project. “It came at the most vulnerable and most precarious time in a filmmaker’s career,” she said. Then with elegance, humor and precision, Smith raced through the $30,000 digital drive to the relief of all. So far, AFS has given out $1.8 million in grants to rising talents.

Armie Hammer interviews with the media on the red carpet for the 2018 Texas Film Awards. Suzanne Cordeiro/ For American-Statesman /

4. Real reels. “Whoever edited that clip reel deserves an award,” said honoree Paul Thomas Anderson, eight-time Academy Award nominee and director of “Boogie Nights,” “Magnolia,” “There Will Be Blood and, most recently, “Phantom Thread.” This has always been a superpower for the AFS ceremony, which has gone by several names. Editing wizardry worthy of any Oscar telecast was also applied to Dallas-raised Hammer’s career, whose reel included “The Social Network,” “J Edgar,” “Nocturnal Animals” and, most recently, “Call Me By Your Name,” and the posthumously honored Jonathan Demme, whose clips included “Stop Making Sense,” “Philadelphia” and “The Silence of the Lambs,” along with samples from his astounding array of documentaries, feature films and music videos.

Timothée Chalamet signs autographs for fans at the 2018 Texas Film Awards. 3/8/2018 Suzanne Cordeiro/ For American-Statesman

5. Gracious grace. Each AFS ceremony is a lesson in Austin film history. Louis Black dug deep into his stories about Demme’s timely interventions into local film culture. Rick Linklater and Anderson, who won the Jonathan Demme Award, talked at length about “the great risk-taker” Demme’s profound influences. They weren’t the only ones to show grace. Guests called Chalamet’s introduction of Hammer “incredibly sweet” and “authentic,” while Hammer responded to his “Call Me By Your Name” romantic partner by saying: “I think I’ve handed you about 20 of these awards, so you handing me this one means a lot.” Hammer and Chalamet have charisma to spare. We were reminded of the old line: “Actors Studio can make an actor, but only God can make a movie star.”

When Austin meant a golden future for movie star Dennis Quaid

Recently, we reported that movie star Dennis Quaid had put his Marina Club house up for sale. The Houston-raised actor is spending less and less time here in Austin. That compelled us to reach back into the archives to a brighter 2005, when Quaid and his then-new bride Kimberly Buffington sat down with this reporter at Hoover’s Cooking to talk about their golden lives here. It saddens an unreconstructed romantic to look back on sunnier times for the former couple, but it’s important to remember who they were to our city.
Contributed
So here we go …

Dennis Quaid blazes into a room — and it’s not just because the sun follows him inside Hoover’s Cooking on Manor Road, basting his outdoorsman’s features and fueling his barely contained energy.Quaid also flushes royally with affection for his still-new wife, Kimberly Buffington, and for his still-new home, Austin.

“I’ve always loved Austin, ” Quaid says. “It has a sense of community you can’t get anywhere else.”

One minute, he’s signing a DVD for a young, delighted diner; next minute he’s doodling on the table’s paper covering. From time to time, he bursts with memories about his Texas childhood, but, like a compass returning to true north, his gaze returns to Buffington, the picture of blissful repose at his side.

If Quaid pitches his stories like a fastball, Buffington pauses before she speaks, averting her eyes before stating the facts plainly, but also playfully. He might be the actor, but she knows how to control time and attention, and is especially at ease on her lifelong turf — Austin.

If Quaid burns like the sun, Buffington shines like the moon — cool, pale, reflective.

Beyond ecstatic — and perhaps questionable — metaphors from reporters, the couple have announced their Austin presence in a big way. It can be heard from the house and land they’ve purchased on Lake Austin. It echoes in the events, such as the Texas Film Hall of Fame, that they are careful to attend, despite Quaid‘s heavy shooting schedule (he starred in four films last year).

And, of course, it makes the loudest sound at the Dennis Quaid Charity Weekend, which, during the next few days, combines celebrity and amateur golf tournaments, a fashion show, a gala dinner and an appearance at La Zona Rosa by Quaid‘s band, the Sharks.

So why Austin for this couple who could live anywhere?

Quaid, 51, asserts no longtime ties to the University of Texas, unlike fellow movie star Matthew McConaughey (Quaid attended the University of Houston for three years). Yet he can claim a deeper Austin connection than Sandra Bullock. Growing up the son of an electrician in Houston, he often visited Austin, skipping school to go camping or to attend parties.

“It had hills, ” he says. “Houston is so flat.”

Quaid‘s Austin ardor also connects back with Buffington, 33, who was born at Seton Hospital, grew up in Northwest Hills and West Lake Hills, and attended Hyde Park Baptist School. Her father was a builder involved in real estate, her mother a homemaker.

“It’s a great place to be from, ” Buffington says. “There’s always something going on. I was into all kinds of sports, but also made good grades. My brother (now a real estate attorney) made slightly better grades. I was always social and knew a ton of people in town.”

The story of their meeting has been told before, sweetly by Quaid on “The Daily Show, ” and by both of them elsewhere.

They tell the tale again on this afternoon at Hoover’s.

It was a Tuesday night — May 13, 2003. Quaid was in town filming “The Alamo” and met John Moore, the director of “The Flight of the Phoenix, ” at Truluck’s in the Warehouse district. Buffington had attended a party for the Junior League. They both ended up at Sullivan’s, where they were introduced by Brett Cullen, an actor and former University of Houston student.

“It was love at first sight, ” Quaid says. “Was it for you, too?” he asks a smiling Buffington.

“It’s love at first sight for everyone with Dennis, ” she says (a phrase she has used, effectively, in other interviews). “And we hit it off right away.”

After a few dates, they retired to Quaid‘s Montana ranch, just north of Yellowstone National Park. (“Yellowstone is my backyard, ” Quaid says.)

“I figured if I got her to Montana, I had her, ” Quaid says. “Not much place to run.”

The interview is interrupted by a discreet Hoover’s waiter. Quaid searches for his glasses to examine the menu.

“One of Kimberly’s duties is to read for me, ” he says with a touch of Jack Nicholson self-mockery that periodically creeps into his performances.

The pause — and Quaid‘s gentle treatment of the autograph-seeking boy — allows time for closer visual observation.

Their faces contrast strikingly. Buffington is all smoothness, her perfectly arranged blonde tresses framing a narrow face and gemlike eyes. Quaid, famously, has acquired creases that complement his still-roundish, still-boyish features. His smile, which eats up his face, has not lost any of its firepower.

On her finger sizzles the 3 1/2-carat canary diamond that Quaid selected from the Kimberly Mines while on location for “The Flight of the Phoenix” in Africa. It was later arranged by Austin’s Anthony Nak.

With orders of comfort food made, it’s back to the story.

“Well, she came up to Montana, but for three or four months, it was a long-distance thing, ” Quaid says. “That wasn’t good.”

What cemented their relationship was the monthslong “Phoenix” shoot in Africa.

“I asked Kimberly to come along and protect me from all the wild animals, ” Quaid jokes.

So the couple spent a few months together on a Namibia beach. They went on safari. They bonded over spectacular scenery and splendid isolation.

“Everything was perfect. If it hadn’t been for Africa, it would have been so much more difficult, ” Buffington says. “It showed us we were able to make the next move.”

That meant sharing a home in Los Angeles, where Buffington continues to work in the real estate industry (she had worked for a title company in Austin).

“There are some neat properties, ” she says. “And I find out about them first!”

After a surprise proposal in front of their L.A. home, the duo wed in June 2004 on top a hill at the Montana ranch, surrounded by just a few friends and family. And then settled into married life.

“We play house, ” Buffington says. “We don’t go to the Hollywood parties.”

Luckily, she also clicks with Jack, Quaid‘s 13-year-old son with ex-wife Meg Ryan.

“He’s an angel, ” she says.

But L.A. is not enough. For the future, Buffington found land they both can love on Lake Austin.

“You drive down through woods, then it opens up, ” Quaid says. “It’s a fantastic lot, and very close to town at the same time.”

They plan some big changes on the Lake Austin property. But when will they install themselves permanently on a lakeside porch?

“When Jack graduates from high school, ” Quaid says. “I’m trying to talk him into going to UT.”

They return to Austin every few months for holidays (last Thanksgiving), summer tubing, charity events, etc.

Sounds like paradise. Meanwhile, they devote their time to raising money for children’s causes through the Charity Weekend. Quaid launched the Weekend in 2002 after filming ‘The Rookie’ here.

What about that inevitable question for all newlyweds?

“Yeah, I want more kids, ” Quaid says.

“The sooner the better, ” Buffington says. “Before we get too old. Once we have kids, we are never going to be this wild and free again.”

 

Austin shouts to home seller: ‘Dennis Quaid, come back!’

Like the tow-headed kid, Little Joe, at the end of the 1953 Western, “Shane,” we’re shouting: “Dennis Quaid, come back!”

Quaid, who starred in a quizillion movies, once called Austin his primary home. He even married a hometown beauty, Kimberly Buffington, and took a mansion here to anchor their Austin life. They sponsored high-profile charity events — serenaded by Quaid’s side band — and the handsome couple could be reliably seen out and about. (His band played the Continental Club as recently as January.)

Actor Dennis Quaid stops to pose for a photo with a fan at the premier of ‘At Any Price’ at the Paramount Theater. Alberto Mart’nez/American-Statesman

Less like Matthew McConaughey and more like Sandra Bullock, Quaid is no longer much of an Austinite and so he is selling his Marina Club house next to the Austin Country Club with a view of the spectacular Pennybacker Bridge. 

A view from the Dennis Quaid home for sale at the Marina Club. Contributed

This is not the mansion purchased with Buffington that led to a legal tussle. After more than 10 years with her, Quaid is single again and says he spends a lot more time in Los Angeles than in Austin. So it’s time to unload his near-5,000-foot detached home that is part of a 36-condo development.

According to the Austin Business Journal, Quaid’s younger brother Buddy Quaid and Eric Copper, both with Austin Portfolio Real Estate, the luxury division of Keller Williams Realty, have the co-listing. The price is $3.5 million.

His brother, Buddy, and their aging mother live here. The Quaids, including actor brother Randy Quaid, grew up in Houston.

Quirky note: I spent two years in drama school with Dennis. By 1972, he was already a budding star, a magnetic presence on the stage in shows such as “Bus Stop,” “Mother Courage,” “Company” and more.

Recently, we republished a profile that we did on the Quaid ex-couple when they started to settle here.

Dates set for big Mack, Jack and McConaughey benefit

The Austin triumvirate of Matthew McConaugheyMack Brown and Jack Ingram has already raised $7.5 million for youth charities through their Mack, Jack & McConaughey golf-plus-music-plus-dinner-plus-fashion-plus-auction-plus-good-will weekends.

Mack Brown, Jack Ingram and Matthew McConaughey at 2017 MJM. Suzanne Cordeiro/American-Statesman

Now the Academy Award-winning actor, the ESPN analyst and former Longhorns coach and the ACM Award-winning recording artist have set the date for their sixth annual fundraiser that culminates at ACL Live: April 12-13, 2018.

SEE PHOTOS: Mack, Jack and McConaughey gala with Miranda Lambert.

No headliner named yet, but past musical partners have included Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley, Kacey Musgraves, Toby Keith, Sheryl Crow and John Mellencamp. Additionally, Camila Alves will bring back your signature fashion show that weekend; past spotlighted designers have included Jason Wu, Veronica Beard, Badgley Mischka, Lela Rose, and Milly.

HISTORY: 17 parties that altered Austin.

This mega-event benefits groups such as CureDuchenne, Dell Children’s Medical Center, HeartGift, just keep livin Foundation and The Rise School of Austin.

Harvey relief benefits among the next vital Austin social events

Hurricane Harvey scrambled a lot of things, yet Austinites will still gather soon in fervent social groups, some of them to raise money directly for storm relief.

RECENTLY ADDED EVENTS:

Sept. 10: Hurricane Harvey benefit from Pittsburgh Steelers Fan Club of Austin. The Local Post.

Sept: 10 Austin Chef’s Night Out: A Benefit for Hurricane Harvey Relief. 800 Congress Ave.

Patty Griffin will perform at one of Austin’s hurricane benefits. Suzanne Cordeiro/ for American-Statesman

Sept 1-10: Austin music scene benefits including Black Joe Lewis and Patty Griffin. Multiple locations.

Sept. 4: Auction for the Coast at Strings in the Woods. Pioneer Farms Dance Hall.

Sept. 5: Harvey Relief Benefit: Comedy Helps produced by Turk and Christy Pipkin and Moontower Comedy Festival. Paramount Theatre.

Already on the calendar for early September:

Sept. 1-3: Splash Days for LGBT Community. Various locations.

Texas’ RB Chris Warren III. RALPH BARRERA/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Sept. 1: Longhorns football season opens with Texas vs. Maryland. Royal-Memorial Stadium.

Sept. 1: “This Random World” opens. Austin Playhouse.

Sept. 1: “You Can’t Do That Dan Moody” from Georgetown Palace Theatre. Williamson County Courthouse.

Sept. 2: Gender Unbound Art Fest. Vuka.

Sept. 2: The Hillbenders present The Who’s Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry. One World Theatre.

Sept. 3: The Everly Brothers Experience featuring the Zmed Brothers. One World Theatre.

Sept. 5: Umlauf After Dark: Bucky Miller: Grackle Actions. Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum.

Artistic Director Adrian Villegas will present one-man comedy “Barrio Daze.”

Sept. 7-16: Latino Comedy Project’s “Barrio Daze” with Adrian Villegas. The Institution Theater.

Sept. 7: Austin Way Fall Fashion 2017. Sunset Room.

Sept. 7: “Enfrascada” opens from Teatro Vivo. Emma Barrientos Mexican-American Cultural Center.

Sept. 7-10: Austin Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. Alamo Drafthouse South.

Sept. 8: The Big Give for I Live Here I Give Here. Hotel Van Zandt.

Sept. 8: David Small, baritone. Bates Recital Hall.

Anton Nel plays with the Austin Symphony. Contributed

Sept. 8-9: Austin Symphony Orchestra season opens with “Mozart in Paris.” Long Center.

Sept. 9: Little Black Dress Soirée: All That Glitters for Dress For Success. Phillips Event Cetner.

Sept. 9: “Eddie Ruscha: Turn on Delights.” Bale Creek Allen Gallery.

Emily Peacock’s show opens at Big Medium Gallery during Canopy Go. Contributed

Sept. 9: “Emily Peacock: Home Remedies for Cabin Fever” opens. Big Medium Gallery.

Sept. 9-10: “The Father/Son Project.” Hyde Park Theatre.

Sept. 10: Authentic Mexico Gourmet Gala for the Hispanic Alliance. Long Center.

Best Texas books: You can’t miss with Bill Wittliff

This week, we’ve got a novel, a true crime tale, an investigative report, a sports chronicle and a family history among the latest Texas titles to cipher.

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“The Devil’s Sinkhole”

“The Devil’s Sinkhole.” Bill Wittliff. University of Texas Press. Wittliff appears at BookPeople on Oct. 10. We can’t wait to bury ourselves deeper into this sequel to Witliff’s highly praised first novel, “The Devil’s Backbone.” Set in a rugged slash of Central Texas, both books follow the adventures of a frontier boy, Papa, told in irresistible dialect. Although it takes the loose form of a series of folktales — illustrated with bone-dry wit by Joe Ciardiello — one can also imagine the “Devil’s” duo as a movie or a mini-series, which shouldn’t surprise us, coming as they do from the Austin screenwriter who gave us the magnificent “Lonesome Dove” mini-series. We promise more reporting on Wittliff and his spiky stories, rightly compared to Mark Twain’s and J. Frank Dobie’s.

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“Wolf Boys: Two American Teenagers and Mexico’s Most Dangerous Cartel”

“Wolf Boys: Two American Teenagers and Mexico’s Most Dangerous Cartel.” Dan Slater. Simon & Schuster. Dan Slater appears at BookPeople on Oct. 7. This is “Beyond Breaking Bad” for real. Two otherwise promising Laredo boys, along with their friends, join the Zetas drug-smuggling cartel and go deep into its hyper-violent culture on both sides of the border. The boys are tracked by a veteran detective with cultural insights into their background. A magazine reporter, Slater knows how to tell a thrilling story in long form. This book, excerpted in Texas Monthly and banned in the Texas prison system, also illuminates the inner lives of the Laredo and Nuevo Laredo hoods far from the tourist traps and NAFTA highways. Another book that screams out for dramatization.

RELATED: MORE RECENT TEXAS TITLES.

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“Faustian Bargains: Lyndon Johnson and Mac Wallace in the Robber Baron Culture of Texas”

“Faustian Bargains: Lyndon Johnson an Mac Wallace in the Robber Baron Culture of Texas.” Joan Mellen. Bloomsbury. LBJ attracts a certain prosecutorial style of reporting, even decades after he left positions of power. Think of the Robert Caro magnum opus. From all available indications, the late president deserved that kind of attention. If one sets aside his monumental political achievements and their subsequent shortcomings, it’s also clear he was also involved with shady characters such as Malcolm “Mac” Wallace, who shot the lover of LBJ’s unpredictable sister, Josefa, herself doubling as Wallace’s paramour. He was not only defended by LBJ’s lawyer, he went on to bypass vetting and do work for a major defense contractor. Mellen turns up a lot of previously unrevealed evidence and makes a potent case. Documentary film in the making?

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“Friday, Saturday, Sunday in Texas: A Year in the Life of Lone Star Football from High School to College to the Cowboys”

“Friday, Saturday, Sunday in Texas: A Year in the Life of Lone Star Football, from High School to College to the Cowboys.” Nick Eatman. Dey St. The “year in the life” format is time-tested in sports, movies, law-making and the arts. Eatman, who manages and writes for DallasCowboys.com, starts with the premise that football is a year-round activity central to the lives of Texans throughout the state. So he follows the Plano Wildcats, Baylor Bears and Dallas Cowboys through the 2015 season, packed with ups and downs, and, if you were paying any attention at the time, you’d can predict some of the spectacular scandals. Eatman has been given extraordinary access to the high school, college and pro teams, in part because he has been following all three levels of the sport for a long time. (His previous two books were “Art Briles: Looking Up” and “If These Walls Could Talk: Dallas Cowboys.”) There’s no attempt to get under the skin of the culture in the way of H.G. Bissinger’s “Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team and a Dream,” but there’s a lot of football here and Texans can’t get enough of that.

RELATED: EVEN MORE RECENT TEXAS TITLES.

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“The Long Shadow: The Lutcher-Stark Lumber Dynasty

“The Long Shadow: The Lutcher-Stark Lumber Dynasty.” Ellen Walker Rienstra and Jo Ann Stiles. Tower Books. I have long wanted this story told. After cotton and before oil, for the most part, there was Texas timber and the family fortunes associated with it. One formidable tribe dominated the field for a long time. The dynastic enterprise was founded by Henry Jacob “H.J.” Lutcher, then was vastly expanded by his son-in-law, William Henry “H.W.” Stark. Profits from Lutcher-Stark investments were devoted to philanthropy by Henry Jacob Lutcher “Lutcher” Stark, creator of the Stark Foundation of Orange, which was followed much later by the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports at the University of Texas. The Foundation commissioned Ellen Walker Rienstra, a contract historian, and Jo Ann Stiles, who taught history at Lamar University, to write this richly researched this in-house family biography, published as an imprint of UT Press.