In the book Into the Devil’s Den, co-author Dave Hall tells the true-live tale of his undercover work with the FBI to infiltrate and cripple the racist cult Aryan Nations. Hall succeeded, at some cost to his soul, he suggests, and the story of his work earned Best in Show in the 2008 New Mexico Book Awards, as well as winning in the biography category.
Organized by the New Mexico Book Co-op, the award honors the state’s best, and its winners say more than a little about the peculiar diversity of this state and the Southwest. Other top honors this year went to renowned Chicana novelist and playwright Denise Chávez, of Las Cruces, whose body of work includes, most recently, The Last of the Menu Girls, a collection of short stories set in New Mexico. Chávez shares the Friend of New Mexico Books award with Santa Fe thriller writer David Morrell, author of, among many others, First Blood, the novel that gave birth to Vietnam vet avenger John Rambo.
How´s that for diverse?
Among the titles on the January Indie Next list, chosen each month by independent booksellers across the country, is Lucky Billy, by historical fiction writer John Vernon. In the book, Vernon seeks to breathe new life into the legendary outlaw, and meanwhile, offers what his publishers promise is a “provocative picture of the West at a critical juncture between old and new.”
Writes Marjorie Darraugh, of Berkeley, Calif.’s Pegasus Fine Books & CD’s: “the bright, brief flame of Billy the Kid’s life illuminates all the excess and anxiety of the Wild West itself.”
Authors writing from and about the West have been doing pretty well on the Indie Next list recently. The much-praised debut novel from Colorado’s David Wroblewski, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, earned a place on its 2008 Highlights list. Recent lists have also included American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon, by Steven Rinella, whose previous work, The Scavenger’s Guide to Haute Cuisine was well-received, even if his recipes weren’t. Also showing up recently have been Ivan Doig’s The Eleventh Man and The Wordy Shipmates, by ex-Montana pilgrim Sarah Vowell.