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Readers of TEXAS MONTHLY will remember the iconic barbecue photographs of Wyatt McSpadden (pictured with his granddaughter, Viv), who has been documenting smoked meat, cooks, and customers for more than a decade. His passion even led him to crisscross the state for a collection of photographs called Texas BBQ, from the University of Texas Press, in 2009. So the characters he shot for this month’s story, “Of Meat and Men” (page 92), were no strangers. He had known John Mueller since the pitmaster was a fresh-faced young man and had eaten at Aaron Franklin’s trailer right after it opened, in 2009. So what’s the best thing about photographing barbecue? “You’re going to end up eating it,” McSpadden says.
John Phillip Santos
San Antonio native John Phillip Santos, the University Distinguished Scholar in Mestizo Cultural Studies at his hometown’s branch of the University of Texas, had never heard of James Carlos Blake before reviewing his new book (“Violence Is Golden,” page 44). “It felt like discovering a parallel world,” he says. “Blake is not on the screen of Latino literary scholars, as far as I can tell.” Santos was particularly impressed with Blake’s unsparing portrait of Mexico’s and America’s bloody, intertwined histories—“all the sorry humans shooting and slashing the hell out of each other as if it meant a damned thing.”
When executive editor Skip Hollandsworth wrote in 2002 about Clara Harris, the mother from suburban Houston who ran over her husband three times, he never thought he would stumble again across such a bizarre tale about married life. Then came Yvonne Stern, a Houston mom who took back her husband, a successful lawyer, even though he and his mistress have been accused of plotting to have her killed (“Sex, Lies, and Hit Men!” page 104). “There’s no question it’s going to be the trial of the year,” he says.