Book TalkFeatures


By January 20, 2022 March 18th, 2022 No Comments

Words with friends: Some of my former colleagues have been very busy

With Mary Rogers

Working for the Star-Telegram during the early 1990s, I had the good fortune to sit beside Robert V. Camuto, a fun-loving New Yorker with a degree in journalism from Columbia University and an insatiable curiosity.

This award-winning journalist went on to establish FW Weekly, an alternative newspaper. When he sold that business, Camuto moved his young family to France, where he continued his storytelling career writing for a number of publications both in the U.S. and abroad.

Today, he lives in Verona, Italy, and has three books about wine and winemakers to his credit. The newest, South of Somewhere: Wine, Food, and the Soul of Italy, was named one of the best wine books of 2021 by The New York Times and The Washington Post.

I’m not surprised. He once told me that he could never be a businessman like his father, Vince Camuto, who founded shoe brand Nine West. “I’m a poet,” he says. It was no idle boast.

This newest book is more than an accounting of the wine culture renaissance in Italy’s southern regions. It’s also part travelogue and part memoir with a wistful tribute to the author’s colorful grandparents and a salute to the role family, history and food play in shaping a life lived with style.

As a host/hostess gift, this book might be better than a bottle of wine. Check out to learn more.

More local connections

Graphic novels are hot, so it’s no wonder that two Star-Telegram alums have produced one with lots of facts and a dusting of fiction.

Lone Star Larceny: Three Hundred Fifty Years of Texas-Bred Mayhem, Murder, & Misanthropy by Dave Ferman and Michael H. Price is more than 300 pages of Texas stories.

Expect plenty of crime, of course, and some history (such as the Battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto), but sandwiched between Price’s illustrations are little essays and explanations, shaggy-dog stories, Texas Ranger tales, notes on robberies and murders, and more.

One section pays tribute to the late Etta Hulme, longtime Star-Telegram editorial cartoonist, and her “Red Rabbit” stories.

On my neighbors’ nightstand

After 68 years of raising money for sick children, Fort Worth’s Jewel Charity Ball might be the most celebrated of this city’s black-tie benefits. Due to the pandemic, last year’s party was put on ice, a first in the JCB’s long history. This year, it’s back, with Tiffany & Co. as the jeweler and the date moved to March.

Community volunteer Michelle Marlow is this year’s president of the Jewel Charity organization, leading an army of volunteers determined to raise record-setting sums for Cook Children’s Medical Center.

Michelle, a speech pathologist and author, is known for her books geared toward kids who have speech impairments. Partnering with sister-in-law Cynthia Marlow, their latest effort is Sh is for Shiner. Shiner, Texas, is Michelle’s hometown and is where she launched this newest title a few months ago.

So, what’s on Michelle’s nightstand? She says she’s crazy for beach reads, but with a son at Virginia Military Institute, she is about to dive into Be Safe, Love Mom: A Military Mom’s Stories of Courage, Comfort, and Surviving Life on the Home Front by Elaine Lowry Brye with Nan Gatewood Satter.

Speaking of the JCB, Julie Sawyer is one of a trio of women sorting out all the details for the big event.

I recently caught up with Julie, a story lover who often reads with her ears rather than her eyes. Here is one title from her long list of favorite audiobooks from 2021.

West with Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge is inspired by the true story of two giraffes that survive a hurricane while crossing the Atlantic in 1938 on their way to a California zoo.

Hitler was on the move; the U.S. was mired in the Great Depression. Everyone longed for better times, and that’s when the story of the giraffes bobbed to the surface.

This adventure story anchored in truth is embellished with a cast of interesting fictitious characters and a few real-life ones. It’s both a tale of love and a coming-of-age story.

I can’t wait to read this one with my ears, too.


Mary Rogers is a Fort Worth-based freelance writer. Have a book or book club recommendation? Contact her at