After rehab, Olivia, a 32-year-old cocaine addict, is required to move back in with her mother and pregnant sister. Having left a promising career in journalism in New York, she’s now working as a sales assistant for a family friend in her hometown in North Texas.
Under pressure from her court-mandated counselor – an old high school friend – to take up a hobby, Olivia decides on “urbexing.” Soon she’s breaking into derelict homes, ex-prisons, and old drive-ins across North Texas, and it’s not long before she’s looting state property and making money off the possessions, fixtures, and fittings that have been left behind.
Old Buildings in North Texas is about a modern woman’s search for personal equilibrium and wild adventure — the attempt to find stability in existence without losing sight of what makes life worth living. Jen Waldo’s style modulates effortlessly from domestic nuance to taut adventure, tackling social and moral transgressions with incisive observation and vivid humor.
PRAISE FOR OLD BUILDINGS IN NORTH TEXAS
“A lot of Jen Waldo’s debut novel takes place out on the porch of Olivia’s mother’s house. […] With its casual, confidential tone, Old Buildings in North Texas puts the reader in one of those porch chairs, reclining on a warm evening with a cool drink.” — The Skinny
“Old Buildings in North Texas is an amusingly written and well worked book” — Trip Fiction
“This novel is an absolute blast. There are serious moments of course, but Jen Waldo looks for the comedy in everything to create a memorable scenario that reminded me very much of the style of Six Feet Under.” — Shiny New Books
“….and so the grand plantation home stands alone with no chlorophyll to frame it, no festooned branches to enhance its lines.”
First – This is not a typical Arcadia book.
Second – The title does not do this book justice.
Third – Curiosity is always good.
When I saw this was an Arcadia book, I first thought it was literally about old buildings in North Texas. Based on past Arcadia books I’ve read, I thought the author would be taking me on a pictorial journey of some cool old buildings with some history thrown in.
It does deal with old buildings, but not in the way I thought. This book is so much more. As the story began in the first chapter I started getting confused because I was literally trying to geographically place the Texas town the author references with the name of the newspaper, Caprock Courier, mentioned in the book. You see there is a newspaper by that name in Silverton, Texas.
Chapter two starting making sense and it eventually became an enchanting Saturday morning read. This story predominantly revolves around Olivia, her mom, and her sister. It’s a story that shows how life can throw some balls at you and this story had plenty of balls being thrown in different directions. It almost became a comedy of errors at points involving these characters.
It’s a dynamo pint-size story about a young woman named Olivia who drifted into taking cocaine and almost died from it. As part of her recovery, she is nagged to take up a hobby and that hobby becomes going into old buildings and salvaging items to sell from them.
“She’s not a moralist, but she is adamant about being smart.”
Bible references have a tendency to put me off in books, but I appreciate how the author incorporated them and allowing Olivia to make very believable interpretations of passages mentioned in the book.
The author carries the story and voice purely throughout the book. That’s what kept me reading this well-written book because the voice of Olivia carried me along perfectly at every stage in this story. This is not a time waster. It is a perfect getaway read.
As a side note, there are always right ways to cross a barbed wire fence. If the author has crossed them like it is mentioned in the book – then dang I hope she never gets caught by a t-post or barbed wire.
“once again I find myself crossing the line between doing what’s right and doing what I want.”
Jen Waldo lived in seven countries over a thirty-year period and has now settled, along with her husband, in Marble Falls, Texas. She first started writing over twenty years ago when, while living in Cairo, she had difficulty locating reading material and realized she’d have to make her own fun. She has since earned an MFA and written a number of novels. Her work has been published in The European and was shortlisted in a competition by Traveler magazine. Old Buildings in North Texas and Why Stuff Matters have been published in the UK by Arcadia Books. Jen’s fiction is set in Northwest Texas and she’s grateful to her hometown of Amarillo for providing colorful characters and a background of relentless whistling wind.
Sins of the Younger Sons has received the Jesse H. Jones Award for Fiction from the Texas Institute of Letters! Luke Burgoa is an ex-Marine on a solitary covert mission to infiltrate the Basque separatist organization ETA in Spain and help bring down its military commander, Peru Madariaga. Luke hails from a Basque ancestry that came with the Spanish empire to Cuba, Argentina, Mexico, and, seventy-five years ago, to a Texas ranch. Neighbors consider the Burgoas Mexican immigrants and exiles of that nation’s revolution, but the matriarch of the family speaks the ancient language Euskera and honors traditions of the old country. Luke’s orders are to sell guns to the ETA and lure Peru into a trap. Instead he falls in love with Peru’s estranged wife, Ysolina, who lives in Paris and pursues a doctorate about an Inquisition-driven witchcraft frenzy in her native land. From the day they cross the border into the Basque Pyrenees, their love affair on the run conveys the beauty, sensuality, exoticism, and violence of an ancient homeland cut in two by Spain and France. Their trajectory puts Luke, Ysolina, and Peru on a collision course with each other and the famed American architect Frank Gehry, whose construction of a Guggenheim art museum seeks to transform the Basque city of Bilbao, a decrepit industrial backwater haunted by the Spanish Civil War—and a hotbed of ETA extremism. Ranging from the Amazon rain forest to a deadly prison in Madrid, Sins of the Younger Sons is a love story exposed to dire risk at every turn.
PRAISE FOR SINS OF THE YOUNGER SONS: “Reid’s story is a fascinating blend of page-turning thriller and vivid tableau of Basque culture and the movement that battled the Spanish establishment for many decades. A reader can’t ask for more—a book that’s engaging, entertaining, educative, and unique.” —Thomas Zigal, author of Many Rivers to Cross and The White League
“What a fine book Jan Reid has written! At once history—both cultural and political—and sensual love story, it reaches beyond genre to make for a magical and profound reading experience. Don’t start reading it at night unless you want to stay up until dawn and then some.” —Beverly Lowry, author of Who Killed These Girls? and Harriet Tubman: Imagining a Life
“Page by page, Sins of the Younger Sons invites the reader to dwell for a while within its unique world, to suffer and celebrate with its unforgettable characters. It’s a trip that, if taken, is well worth the effort.” —Ed Conroy, San Antonio Express-News
“Sins of the Younger Sons vividly takes us into a world few of us have seen and into a bitter conflict most of us have never considered nor understood.” —Si Dunn, Dallas Morning News
Jan Reid’s highly praised books include his novel Comanche Sundown, his biography of Texas governor Ann Richards, Let the People In, his memoir of Mexico, The Bullet Meant for Me, and The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock. Making his home in Austin, Reid has been a leading contributor to Texas Monthly for over forty years.