Associate editor Courtney Bond has been known to proclaim that the aroma of today’s too-sweet, tequila-deficient margaritas remind her of “a freshly cleaned gas station restroom.” But fortunately for all of us, the recipes she collected from three of the state’s coolest new bars for “ The Margarita Variations ” (page 100) restore the rightful bouquet to our most beloved cocktail. We’re certainly breaking out the tequila: This intoxicating story marks not only Bond’s feature writing debut but also her full-fledged return to the magazine’s Austin offices after a five-year sojourn in San Francisco. ¡A tu salud, rubia!
Photograph by Sarah Wilson
Unlike Sarah Bird’s previous seven novels, The Gap Year —about a mother who faces her daughter’s departure for college—has an exact moment and place of conception: three years ago, in the frozen-foods aisle at H-E-B, when Bird burst into tears because she would never again buy Hot Pockets Pepperoni Pizza. “Our son was leaving for college, and I was repeatedly blindsided by grief,” says the TEXAS MONTHLY writer-at-large, who lives in Austin. “But weeping for such a vile snack food? That’s when I decided to write a novel to understand what ‘empty nest’ meant to me.” Read an excerpt of The Gap Year , which hits bookstores this month, on page 70.
Jan Jarboe Russel
After finishing high school, in 1969, writer-at-large Jan Jarboe Russell fled tiny Cleveland for worldly Austin and, later, San Antonio. But when she saw headlines about the gang rape of an eleven-year-old in her hometown, she felt compelled to return (“ The Worst Hard Time ,” page 62). “What happened is horrifying,” she says. “And yet the trip was healing in unexpected ways.” Among the surprises? The many residents who remember her late mother, a schoolteacher, teaching them to read. “I’d never have seen that love had I not gone home,” says Russell.