Austin is in a decidedly reflective mood this week in books. With such themes on the menu as the morality and politics of the death penalty, the pain of losing a child in pregnancy, the social, environmental and economic implications of the aggregation of power and resources in massive global corporations, the plight of temporary day-laborers and the evolving image of the devil throughout history Austin readers will have a smörgåsbord of food for thought in the coming week.
Famed activist and founder of the Texas Innocence Network David Dow will be speaking at Bookpeople this Tuesday at 7 pm. Dow's latest book The Autobiography of an Execution, encompasses both a very personal look at the inner workings of the Texas legal system and an impassioned argument concerning the morality and efficacy of state-sponsored execution. On Tuesday evening Dow will be discussing the proceedings of capital punishment cases from trial to death row to execution. Whichever side of the debate you take, citizens of the state known for the highest rate of executions in modern times should take an interest in how, and whether, the death penalty functions in our legal system.
Elizabeth McCracken's new memoir An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination is a meditation on sudden, unexpected and devastating death in the midst of life. In An Exact Replica McCracken reveals her own very intimate and painful experience with stillbirth and the slow recovery of hope and life afterwards. McCracken describes her experience as "the happiest story in the world with the saddest ending" and she will be at Bookpeople on Thursday at 7 pm to share that story and the lessons to be learned from loss.
Austinites take pride in their local businesses and dedication to mantaining a unique urban place in an increasingly global and homogenized world; however, massive corporations are virtually unavoidable, even for the proudest most locally-minded Austinite. Economic advocator and journalist Barry C. Lynn will be in Austin this Friday in support of his latest book Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction. He will be at Bookpeople on Friday at 7 pm for a discussion of the importance of local patronage and the dangers of global monopoly and corporatization.
For a look at our corporate culture from the opposite end of the spectrum Austinites might want to drop by Monkeywrench Books Saturday evening at 7 pm for a reading of Catching Out: The Secret World of Day Laborers by Dick Reavis. In Catching Out Reavis explores the lives of day laborers from a first-hand perspective. Reavis took jobs as a day laborer in factory work, construction work, road crew work and a variety of the gritty pay by the day occupations and brought his experience to the page for an examination of what hard work it can be be to be unemployed and underemployed in America.
For those who would literally look the devil in his eye Professor Sir Basil Markesinis, Jamail Regents Chair at the UT School of Law, will be giving what looks to be an intrigueing presentation on the figure of the devil in art and literature focusing particularly on the baroque sculptor Bernini and Goethe.
Of course it's never all doom, gloom and baroque philosophy in Austin. Author and comedian Sarah Vowell will be at the Paramount this Friday. The Paramount is holding a Read – It's a Good Deed book drive in her honor the week running up to the show and for those attending a charitable donation will garner free parking and a couple of gratis beverages before the show. Of course you don't have to buy a ticket to do a good deed and anyone can drop off books at 713 Congress Ave., Mon-Sat 12:00-5:30 pm.
For more of the bright and beautiful side of Austin consider the new photographic essay in book form Austin-East of I-35 by Rama Tiru. Tiru will be at Domy Books for a signing and artist talk Saturday at 7 pm.