Alumni Authors: Demystifying Health Care, Exploring Lady Bird, and More

The Health Care Handbook:  A Clear and Concise Guide to the U.S. Health Care System
by Elisabeth Askin, BA ’06, and Nathan Moore, BA’07

Askin and Moore, both students at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, bonded over a shared nostalgia for Austin’s breakfast tacos. Then they lamented the lack of a readable, thorough guide to America’s health care maze—so they decided to write the book they couldn’t find. The result is a 175-page, approachable guide that the New York Times called “astonishingly clear.” From breaking down the costs of health care to demystifying insurance, this is a great layman’s resource.


Fredrichsburg: A Novel
by Friedrich Armand Strubberg; translated, annotated, and illustrated by James C. Kearney, BA’69, PhD’10

Today, Fredericksburg is a Central Texas tourist destination, but in 1846—when it was founded by German noblemen—it was the Wild West. This novel, penned in 1867 by one of the town’s founders, has been reinvigorated by Kearney’s new, very accessible translation. The whimsical illustrations add even more appeal.



Lady Bird Johnson: An Oral History
by Michael L. Gillette, BA’68, PhD’84, Life Member

Before she was one of the most beloved first ladies in U.S. history, she was a shy little girl in the sleepy town of Marshall, Texas. Gillette, the executive director of Humanities Texas, collected Johnson’s memories in 47 interviews spanning 18 years. Those interviews are presented here in eminently readable form. The story of the Johnsons’ whirlwind courtship is particularly delightful, with gems like: “I do believe before the day was over he asked me to marry him, and I thought he was out of his mind.”



You Take it From Here
by Pamela Ribon, BFA’97

When Smidge receives a diagnosis of terminal cancer, she decides to hand her life over to her best friend, Danielle. Smidge’s unusual last wish is for Danielle to marry her husband and raise her daughter after her death. How will she handle the secret request? Readers will learn from Danielle as she grapples with losing her best friend, deals with a divorce, and figures out whether she can really “take it from here.”



Can I See Your I.D.? True Stories of False Identities
by Chris Barton, BA ’93

A Jewish teen who survives by posing as a Hitler youth. A white journalist in the 1950s who turns his skin black to experience the color line from the other side. A high school dropout who convinces everyone that he’s a qualified Navy surgeon. Stories of people pretending to be someone they aren’t are endlessly fascinating—and this young-adult book will engage any teen. Each story is written in the second person, putting the reader in the impersonator’s shoes, and paired with Paul Hoppe’s stylish cartoon illustrations.



Death, Taxes, and Extra-Hold Hairspray
by Diane Kelly BBA ’88, JD ’90

Tara Holloway, our favorite crime-fighting accountant, is at it again. Author Kelly—an accountant and former assistant attorney general of Texas—charmed us with the first two books in the Death and Taxes series, and the third is a worthy successor. When the first chapter is titled “This is What Happens When Rednecks Have Too Much Time on Their Hands,” you know it’s going to be good. Stay tuned for Death, Taxes, and Peach Sangria.


Twit Publishing Presents Pulp: Summer/ Fall 2012
Edited by Chris Gabrysch, BA ’06

Pulp fiction—conventionally, writing focused on sensationalistic or lurid topics—earned its name for its tendency to be printed on cheap, flimsy paper. Editor Gabrysch has reclaimed that term to celebrate “genre” fiction—sci-fi , Westerns, horror, fantasy, and more. From a battle with a cobra to the tale of a mountain lion hunter, the stories collected here will surprise and delight.



 The Heavyweight

The Yellow Birds
by Kevin Powers, MFA ’12

The reviews (and Pulitzer rumors) are in for Kevin Powers’ debut novel, The Yellow Birds, and they are superlative. The New York Times proclaims it “a remarkable first novel, one that stands with Tim O’Brien’s enduring Vietnam book, The Things They Carried, as a classic of contemporary war fiction.” This echoes praise from novelist Tom Wolfe, who calls The Yellow Birds “the All Quiet on the Western Front of America’s Arab Wars.”

It is fitting that Powers’ novel was released on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Powers was 21 when the World Trade Center fell, and in his book he represents a generation of young military volunteers whose lives were forever changed by the aftermath.

After enlisting in the Army at 17, he served as a machine gunner in Iraq. Though The Yellow Birds involves situations similar to those Powers experienced in Iraq, the plot and characters are invented. “I think of the emotional core of the book as being true to my experience,” Powers says.

Regardless of the smashing success of his first novel, Powers remains committed to a second career as a poet (he earned an MFA in poetry from UT’s elite Michener Center for Writers). His attention to language shows in the novel’s finely tuned sentences. “This is also, in a way, going to be the birth of a major American poet,” says Jim Magnuson, director of the Michener Center. “In that sense too he’s a bit like Stephen Crane. They both allow you to see things as if for the first time.” —Mike Agresta


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