Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from perusing Larry McMurtry's literature hoard and a celebration of the historical Texas Rangers to Austin's nine day Fashion Week event . Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
[August 10–August 18]
Larry McMurtry is a man of many words. Not only has he written some of the finest literature of our time, he has also collected some of the finest literature of all time, amassing hundreds of thousands of volumes at his store, Booked Up, in Archer City. But while McMurtry continues to write books—including 2008’s Books: A Memoir —it seems as though his collecting days are ending. Join McMurtry this weekend in the town depicted in The Last Picture Show for the Last Book Sale, the shelf-lot auction of McMurtry’s vast trove. Perhaps this sale is a result of a new direction in life prompted by McMurtry’s marriage last year to Faye Kesey, the widow of the novelist Ken Kesey. Or maybe it has to do with McMurtry coming to grips with e-books, the medium he was criticized for questioning in a review of the book One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon.com in Harper’s Magazine . Regardless of whether you are a bibliophile, it is a day to exalt the written word, with beer, barbecue, and a concert by the politically charged singer-songwriter James McMurtry, McMurtry’s son.
Booked Up, Aug. 10-11, 10 a.m., addisonsauction.com
Style and speed will collide at this year’s nine-day Austin Fashion Week. Formula One racing, set to commence Nov. 16 on a new track outside of Austin, will get some early exposure in this extravaganza of retail events at local malls and runway shows by burgeoning designers at other locations around town. There will be sleek cars on display at the kick-off event featuring Anita Perry, the state’s first lady, who will address the economic impact of Formula One. Also, two Austin designers will champion the sport through their fashion. Ross Bennett, who was on the reality TV show Fashion Star , will create outfits for the race’s “promo girls,” and Linda Asaf will present a collection of attire suited for the swanky Formula One scene. “We tend to equate Formula One with Nascar, but they’re not even close to similar,” said Matt Swinney, a Fashion Week organizer. “I equate Formula One to the Kentucky Derby. It’s a different kind of style: young, edgy, incredibly high-end luxury.” See what it takes to look like a million bucks without compromising the casual-cool aesthetic Austin is known for.
Various locations, Aug. 10-18, various times, fashionweekaustin.com
On the Range
Susan Kiel, the president of the Burton Heritage Society, admires the way Texas Rangers approach their jobs. Back in the glory days of the Rangers, “when people were doing something wrong,” Kiel said, “the Rangers went out and no matter the means, they took care of business.” Get a taste of this no-holds-barred ethos at the second annual Texas Ranger Day and A Big Star Texas Night, an homage to Rangers past and present organized by the heritage society. The Brazos Banditos and the Old West Rangers, sanctioned Texas Rangers re-enactor groups, will host shootouts and portray camp life. The day of immersion will also allow you to have a fake warrant pulled on your friends and have them brought to mock trial. The inspiration for this living-history event comes from Leander McNelly, a Ranger who lived outside of Burton in the mid-1800s and was in charge of the Washington County Volunteers, who aggressively patrolled the lawless borderlands and forged the Ranger identity. “Texas Rangers are larger than life,” Kiel said. “There’s something about that spirit that people just like.”
Downtown, Aug. 11, 3:30 p.m., burtontexas.org
Life of the City
It’s easy to take the architecture we encounter every day for granted and overlook the complex mix of math, science, and creativity that goes into the planning of downtown skylines. But as more Texans relocate to urban centers, it’s important to consider the evolution of these settings and how their development will affect future generations. The ArCH Film Festival, sponsored by the Architecture Center Houston, will emphasize smart growth and identify threats posed by the other kind, using four movies to illustrate: The Pruitt-Igoe Myth , My Playground , Radiant City , and Urbanized. Watch them and then leave the theater better able to appreciate the cityscape around you.
Architecture Center Houston, Aug. 16-18, 7 p.m., aiahouston.org
The show for the release of I’m Gone , the first album in eight years from the rip-snorting blues band Omar & the Howlers, will benefit from what its frontman, Omar Kent Dykes, was doing during the hiatus: collaborating on two albums with Jimmie Vaughan.
Sam’s Burger Joint, Aug. 10, 8 p.m., omarandthehowlers.com
Start in Art
Up-and-coming artists are so consumed with making work that they often don’t have the time or know-how to get it noticed, so many of them will flock to the Big Show, an open-call, juried exhibition for any artist living within one hundred miles of Houston.
Lawndale Art Center, Aug. 10-11, various times, lawndaleartcenter.org