Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Going Secular at SXSW

As Gungor concluded its South by Southwest set at the Red Eyed Fly, a grungy downtown Austin club, a fan in the front row started shouting at the band. It was a familiar request: to sing just one more song. “Play ‘Beautiful Things’!” she yelled as the musicians started to clear the stage of guitars and keyboards. “You need to play ‘Beautiful Things’!” The song is the band’s biggest hit, but it hadn’t made the set list, which featured material mostly culled from the band’s new album, I Am Mountain. “I had never seen a fan get that furious with us,” Michael Gungor, the band’s leader, told me. Most musicians develop a thick skin when it comes to heckling, but this woman’s anger had a wounded quality. “You can’t be ashamed,” she said.

Ashamed, that is to say, because we weren’t in a church. 

Read the rest at Texas Monthly

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Before 'True Detective'

In honor of all of the breathless praise accompanying the release of HBO’s new crime noir series True Detective, The Atlantic is urging readers to revisit two short stories by Nicolas Pizzolatto, the show’s creator. The stories appeared in the magazine ten years ago, when Pizzolatto was an MFA student at the University of Arkansas, and they explore themes that would later mark the HBO series. 

Chief among those is gender and the relationship between men and women. Pizzolatto is a radically masculine writer. The female characters of True Detective serve primarily as foils for the rich inner life of his two lead men: a haunted, philosophically-tinged caricature of the old west lawman played by a sinewy Mathew McConaughey and a thick-ribbed Woody Harrelson, whose character projects stolid family conservatism while he cheats on his wife.

Pizzolatto’s story “Between Here and the Yellow Sea,” published in the November 2004 issue of the The Atlantic, also centers around two men. One is an aging Texas high school football coach (a tragic inversion of Friday Night Lights Coach Taylor) whose daughter has run off to California and stars in porn films. The other is the narrator, Bobby Corresi, a few years out of high school, going by Robert now but in no other way older or wiser. He once longingly hoped for romance with the daughter and agrees to help the coach bring her home.

Read the rest at American Short Fiction

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Where Have All the Cosmic Cowboys Gone?

A bite-sized book review of Jason Mellard's new book Progressive Country

By the end of the 1970s, the mythological image of the Texan was no longer secure and simple. The television show Dallas, which premiered in 1978, and the 1980 film Urban Cowboy were presenting glitzy reinventions of the cowboy image. Austin had become known for the redneck-meets-hippie styles of Willie Nelson and the Armadillo World Headquarters. In 1975, a Texas Monthly cover had asked, “Is The Texas Cowboy Extinct?” At the end of the decade, such a figure was far from monolithic, if it still existed at all.

Read the rest at The Texas Observer