Mathew Brady

Army Gen. George Custer and his troops perished in the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Larry McMurtry writes that the battle "closed the great narrative of American settlement."

Between the Lines: McMurtry to take a shot at the tale of Custer

Published: Sunday, Jul. 29, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 8AANDE

Time for a grab bag of odds and ends, beginning with a big-news phone call from Simon & Schuster senior publicist Emer Flounders. The foremost contemporary chronicler of the West – Larry "Lonesome Dove" McMurtry – has a new title coming out Nov. 6. "Custer" ($35, 256 pages) will be in coffee-table format, with text by McMurtry and more than 150 rarely seen color photos and artworks, most of which were discovered in libraries and archives.

Army Gen. George Custer and his soldiers in the 7th Cavalry Regiment perished in the Battle of the Little Bighorn, a.k.a. Custer's Last Stand, in Montana Territory. The one-sided fight was the most notorious of the Great Sioux War of 1876.

In McMurtry's words, the battle "closed the great narrative of American settlement."

"Larry has been fascinated with Custer his entire life, so this has been a passion project for him – the first time he has tackled Custer as a subject," Flounders said.

'Wizard of Oz' prequel

Visit YouTube for a tasty look at the "first official trailer" for "Oz the Great and Powerful." The Disney movie, directed by Sam Raimi, is the prequel to L. Frank Baum's classic book "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." It will star James Franco, Michelle Williams and Mila Kunis, with a March 8 release date.

The premise: The Wizard was a "carnival magician with bad social skills who seeks fame." When he's run out of Kansas in his hot-air balloon, a tornado whisks him off to Oz, a most dangerous place.

Remember that Baum's "Wizard" was published in 1900, followed by 13 more fantasies set in the magical land "somewhere over the rainbow."

Authors on video

Table Rock Productions has put out its first "Author Video" series, debuting with the five-part "Thomas Steinbeck Speaks: The Secret to Writing." The author is Nobel Prize-winning novelist John Steinbeck's son, whose own titles include "Down to a Soundless Sea, "In the Shadow of the Cypress" and "The Silver Lotus." Upcoming are a memoir, a fourth novel and a collection of short stories.

Part 1 of "Secret to Writing" is up now at; the remaining four will be released there each Monday over the next four weeks.

More summer reading

Two more readers have shared their summer reading lists. Submit yours to; please include your name, city of residence and daytime phone number.

Alison Rood of El Dorado Hillsfreelanced book reviews to The Bee in the 1970s and 1980s ("It was the best gig I ever had – free books and getting published in The Bee").

"I'm spending the summer in Sweden with a brooding, opera-loving detective named Kurt Wallander" in author Henning Mankell's detective series, she writes.

"I started liking Scandinavian crime fiction a few years ago, when I discovered Karin Fossum's Inspector Konrad Sejer books. From there I went on to Jo Nesbo's Inspector Harry Hole series, my favorite. Still captivated and wanting more, I went back in time and bought all the Maj Sjowall-Per Wahloo Inspector Martin Beck books. Sjowall and Wahloo are the forerunners of the Scandinavian crime fiction genre.

"The crime novels I choose to read satisfy my passion for good literature, and are darn good mysteries to boot. Ironically, everyone mentions Stieg Larsson when they think of Scandinavian crime fiction, but I couldn't get into his first book ('The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo') so have never read any of them."

Penny Wells of Sacramento emailed: "I may not finish them all, so what's left will be part of my 2012 reading list. Most of the books are on my Kindle, but two are trade paperbacks."

• "A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire" by George R.R. Martin

• "Hollywood Station" by Joseph Wambaugh

• "The Miracle at Speedy Motors" by Alexander McCall Smith

• "Sandstorm" by James Rollins

• "White Fang" by Jack London

• "One Corpse Too Many" by Ellis Peters

One for the hammock

Summer reading, continued: Karin Slaughter's new thriller, "Criminal" (Delacorte, $27, 448), could be the beach read you've been looking for. This is the seventh in her "Will Trent" series, set in Atlanta, which is Slaughter's hometown.

Trent is a special agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. In this adventure, he is newly in love and looking for a fresh start when he becomes involved in the case of a missing college student.

Turns out via flashback that the current case links to the case decades ago that launched the career of Trent's supervisor, Amanda Wagner. Together they must move quickly to stop a serial killer who has resurfaced. With this one, it's not hard to see why Slaughter has sold 30 million books in 32 languages worldwide.


Lists, anyone? Let's begin with the winners of the International Thriller Writers Award:

• Best hardcover novel: "11/22/63" by Stephen King

• Best paperback original: "The Last Minute" by Jeff Abbott

• Best first novel: "Spiral" by Paul McEuen

• Best short story: "Half-Lives" by Tim L. Williams (in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)

Lists, Chapter 2:

More awards, this time the nominees for the Dolman Travel Book of the Year Award for serious travel literature. The winners will be announced Sept. 5.

• "Harlem Is Nowhere" by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts

• "On Extinction" by Melanie Challenger

• "Street Fight in Naples" by Peter Robb

• "The Fetish Room: The Education of a Naturalist" by Redmond O'Hanlon

• "Thin Paths: Journeys in and around an Italian Village" by Julia Blackburn

• "To a Mountain in Tibet" by Colin Thubron

• "To the River: A Journey Beneath the Surface" by Olivia Laing

• "White Fever" by Jacek Hugo-Bader

• "Wild Coast" by John Gimlette

Lists, Chapter 3:

These were the most popular titles with reading groups in June, as reported by 35,000 book clubs registered at www.

• "Fifty Shades of Grey" by E.L. James

• "The Paris Wife" by Paula McLain

• "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand

• "Before I Go to Sleep" by S.J. Watson

• "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins

• "Defending Jacob" by William Landay

• "Room" by Emma Donoghue

• "What Alice Forgot" by Liane Moriarty

• "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot

• "The Next Thing on My List" by Jill Smolinski

The ultimate youth list

National Public Radio's four-star NPR Books program is so much into the "youth theme" of summertime reading that it's asking young adult readers to help select the 100 best young adult reads of all time.

Choose from 235 finalists and cast your votes for up to 10 titles. Go to and vote through Tuesday. The results will run on the website Aug. 8.


If you have information on author appearances, book sales, writing seminars, writers club meetings or other book-related special events, email it to at least two weeks before the event. To read the online calendar, go to

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