I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but if I hadn't, I might not have discovered Junot Díaz. The cover of Drown, his 1996 short story collection, features a black-and-white photo of a small child walking down a dirty street at night. The image really struck me, so I borrowed it from a classmate--who told me that he bought the book, without knowing anything about the author, for the same questionable reason. Each of the book's stories chronicles the struggles of a boy or young man from an impoverished Dominican family to adapt to American life in inner-city New Jersey. The narrator never shies from grim details in episodes about two-bit dope dealers and porn-fueled childhood homosexual experimentation; the stories are even more vivid than the picture. His first novel, 2007's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, has received widespread critical acclaim. Oh, and it's got a pretty cool cover too. Opening the Writer's Garret series The Writers Studio, Díaz reads and answers questions 2 p.m. Sunday at the Horchow Auditorium of the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood St. General public tickets are $34, with discounts for seniors, students and teachers and Writer's Garret members and affiliates. Call 214-828-1715.
Sun., Sept. 14, 2 p.m., 2008