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Literary San Antonio book coverLiterary San Antonio

by Bryce Milligan

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Hardback, 452 pages


Please use this site only for SIGNED COPIES. The trade editon is available from bookstores and standard online retailers

Copies purchased on this site will be signed by the editor, Bryce Milligan, and by two contributors, Rosemary Catacalos and Carmen Tafolla, the first two Latina Poets Laureate of Texas.

Literary San Antonio is a collection of writing about San Antonio, by San Antonio poets, fiction writers, playwrights, journalists, historians, political writers, and 18th and 19th century travelers. It covers three centuries of writing done in this place, and includes work by Zebulon Pike, Frederick Law Olmsted, Madam Candelaria, Antonio Menchaca, Santiago Tafolla, Sidney Lanier, O. Henry, Emma Tenayuca, Josephina Niggli, Jan Jarboe Russell, Angela De Hoyos, Carmen Tafolla, Evangelina Vigil, Rosemary Catacalos, Naomi Shihab Nye, Wendy Barker, Robert Bonazzi, Frank Jennings, Maury Maverick, Sr., Carol Coffee Reposa, Jenny Browne, Laurie Ann Guerrero, Amalia Ortiz, Deborah Parédez, Jesse Cardona, Celeste Guzmán Mendoza, Mariana Aitches, Jim LaVilla-Havelin, Steven G. Kellman, Sterling Houston, Cary Clack, Ricardo Sánchez, Jay Brandon, Stephen Harrigan, Geoff Rips, Nan Cuba, Rick Riordan, and Sandra Cisneros. Also, an historical introduction by Bryce Milligan.


"This city, with its winding, still-sleepy river and its story-shrouded springs; its ancient acequias and missions, now acknowledged as valued 'world heritage' sites; its sacred battle grounds and historic military forts and bases; its several unique neighborhoods and barrios that have produced and been celebrated by generations of writers; its rich heritage of heroism and revolutionary passion; its endlessly celebratory ability to revel in its multiracial, multiethnic, multilingual roots and branches ... this city is a good place to write."

Critical Praise

  • Literary San Antonio documents the complex and reciprocal interaction of Tejano and Anglo writers. It records how they have maintained and renovated their particular literary traditions while sustaining a diverse bi-cultural heritage. This compelling and powerful anthology provides a historic and social context for understanding the enduring and enchanting allure of San Antonio. A break-through, foundational and necessary book.

    — Tomás Ybarra-Frausto, Ph.D., Independent Scholar of Latino Arts and Culture

  • Bryce Milligan offers us a guiding thread for a profound journey celebrating this place. We are led from sacred pre-Columbian song to the Missions, the Mexican Revolution, the Chicano Movement, and our own time, each voice a note in the literary music of a great transcultural city. This book is who we have been in the place we love. It also points the way to who we may yet become. ¡Adelante!

    — Rosemary Catacalos, author of Again for the First Time and Begin Here; 2013 Texas Poet Laureate

  • San Antonio has been labeled Alamo City, Military City, Every Texan's Second Home Town, Big City Collection of Little Towns. It could well have been called Literary City, although I had never thought of it that way before reading Literary San Antonio. I was living in a city with the ghosts of Frederick Law Olmstead, Zebulon Pike, and Sidney Lanier and neighbors Wendy Barker and Stephen Kellman. San Antonio could also be called the City of Poets, as they outnumber mariachis with five Texas Poet Laureates plus Evangelina Vigil, Robert Bonazzi, Carol Coffee Reposa, Jacinto Jesus Cardona and Jenny Browne, and the late lamented Angela De Hoyos. However, the prose writers win the championship belt for published words anchored at one end by O. Henry and the other by Stephen Harrigan, and a middle bulging with Sandra Cisneros, Jay Brandon, Rick Riordan, Mary Guerrero Milligan. Literary San Antonio can go mano a mano with any city in Texas.

    — Robert Flynn, author of North to Yesterday and Wanderer Springs; former president of the Texas Institute of Letters


  • Writers from San Antonio, on San Antonio

    San Antonio Express-NewsFeb. 18, 2018

    Special to the [San Antonio Express-News] by Ed Conroy

    It takes a rare combination of hubris, erudition, faith in the inspiration of the muse and a profound appreciation for local culture and history to undertake such an ambitious project as an anthology of three centuries of writing in and of San Antonio.

    Bryce Milligan embodies those qualities, and he has employed them very ably as editor of Literary San Antonio.

    At the outset of his fascinating introduction to this collection of historical writing, journalism and political essays, poetry and prose, drama and fiction, Milligan appropriately invokes Adina De Zavala, the "savior of the Alamo," and surely the muse of this book.

    She expressed the hope, Milligan observes, that "a school of loving and appreciative writers and artists will do justice to the wonderful history, legends and romance of Texas and her most attractive city, San Antonio, the beautiful."

    The conscientious way in which Milligan has created this comprehensive collection of works by 45 writers, plus a Dancing Song from the indigenous Comecrudo peoples, clearly demonstrates De Zavala's wish is continually coming true.

    In Milligan's introduction, the reader will find an exceptionally insightful overview of local literary endeavors over the past three centuries.

    Milligan describes how writers of all kinds have found San Antonio and its people to be uniquely inspiring, from the 18th century onward, as a "civilized, charming and exotic" place.

    As he puts it, "Spaniards drew more Spaniards," and "American reports drew Americans," with the written word having had "a considerable role in creating the city as we know it."

    Milligan accurately notes that the rise of Latino literature in the U.S., born in local Spanish language newspapers during the Mexican Revolution of 1910, and reared in the literary activism of the 1960s-era Chicano movement, derived much of its liberating force from San Antonio writers.

    His reminiscences of the now-gone Rosengren's bookstore, too, are a wonderful homage to the life work of Camille Rosengren and her late husband, Frank, who played a unique role in cultivating San Antonio literary life for decades.

    Milligan's application of his eagle-eyed perspective to our complex textual heritage results in a rich, variegated cornucopia of readings by nothing less than a who's-who of local writers from many cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

    Readers familiar with the best-known local fiction writers of the last three decades will find them here, from Sandra Cisneros, Jay Brandon, Robert Flynn, Norma E. Cantú, Nan Cuba and Stephen Harrigan to poets such as San Antonio poets laureate Jenny Brown, Laurie Ann Guerrero and Carmen Tafolla, plus Jim La Villa-Havelin, Roberto Bonazzi, Wendy Barker, and Naomi Shihab Nye.

    Former Express-News reporters Cary Clack and Jan Jarboe and the late Ricardo Sánchez appear in the journalism section with sharp observations of local life and strife, alongside, remarkably, the late labor activist Emma Tenayuca.

    Her powerful polemical essay, "The Mexican Question in the Southwest," which appeared in The Communist in 1939, is still relevant today.

    The late Sterling Houston provides the only dramatic work in the collection. His semi-autobiographical "Driving Wheel," produced at the Carver Cultural Center in 1992, is a fitting selection for this brilliant African-American writer whose life was far too short.

    Anyone who loves the history of San Antonio will want to read each of the contributions in the history section in their entirety. With selections ranging from early writers Frederick Law Olmstead, Sidney Lanier, Andrea Castañon Villanueva and Santiago Tafolla to more modern authors such as Frank W. Jennings, Maury Maverick Sr. and Steven J. Kellman, Milligan provides a kaleidoscopic array of trenchant commentaries on the economic, political and cultural development of our city.

    Milligan realized, of course, he could not include mention of everyone in the contemporary literary scene, but he makes a good faith effort to give credit to many writers whose works were not selected.

    And if this book has a muse, it also has a shamanic power-animal.

    The spirit of the deer, invoked by the Comecrudo peoples in their Dancing Song as translated by ethnologist A.S. Gatscher in 1886, "goes skipping about . . . skipping about."

    No doubt Adina De Zavala would be pleased with the works in this beautiful book.

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Buy This Book : $50

ISBN 978-0-87565-687-8
US $50.00
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