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Reports of a sort

Snow in Austin and Memories of Houston

Because of our uncharacteristic winter weather, my readings in Dallas and Houston were cancelled. I'm rescheduling in both cities--March 3 for Houston.

When I first moved to Texas, I settled in Houston, where I'd been on business trips. I figured I'd spend the winter there and then go home to upstate New York. That was in October 1978 and I'm still in Texas.
In those years, I worked as an editor for Dominique de Menil on various projects, and I'd met some people who became good friends. One, Karl Kilian, I knew from New York. Karl was born in Lake Charles, I believe, and grew up in Houston. He's the smartest and funniest man you could hope to meet. I'd known him when I lived in New York on 89th between Broadway and Amsterdam, and he worked across Broadway at the New Yorker bookstore. By the time I got to Houston, Karl had opened the Brazos Bookstore and established it as a cultural center in the city. We lived in the same neighborhood--Deauville, an enclave in Montrose--the blocks of modest little houses owned by Dominique de Menil. The neighborhood gained visual coherence from the uniform brownish gray color all the buildings were painted. Across from Karl's house was the Rothko Chapel. Across from the brick fourplex where I lived is now the beautiful Menil Museum, designed by Renzo Piano. Then it was a clear green field from which houses had been cleared.
Once I moved to Houston, I no longer worked for Mme. de Menil but had a job as a senior editor at Houston City Magazine, which was the first office job I'd had that was any kind of fun. Down the street from the magazine was the Blue Bird Circle Thrift Shop, which figured in my novel about Houston, The Shadow Line.
Writing that book gave me the chance to snoop around the city and to learn about it. I had many guides--Karl Kilian, Stephen Fox--and was astonished by the generosity of so many people eager to help me understand their city.
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