Early in the pandemic, I finished Larry McMurtry’s much-lauded The Last Picture Show, a longtime item on my literary bucket list. Though I found the book enjoyable, I was weary of its constant and central lustfulness. Local boy makes it with the football coach’s wife and the prettiest girl in town, and has good chances with that girl’s mother? I felt like I was being dropped into a young man’s fantasy. I much prefer Texasville, the novel’s sequel.
Texasville picks up in the eighties, the starry-eyed idyll of the fifties small town long gone. An oil bust is rocking the town of Thalia; Duane, our hero, is aging, impotent, and broke. The true shining stars of the novel, though, are the women in Duane’s life, particularly his wife, Karla, and his former lover, Jacy Farrow. As Duane mopes around, preparing for the town’s bicentennial event, it is the women—their emotion, their wit, and yes, their sexuality—who push the plot forward. In the end, Duane doesn’t change—he never learns—but the women just might. As the novel closes, Karla and Jacy are all set to leave small-town life for Europe. And I just want to put it out there: Mr. McMurtry, I’d read a whole book about that.
—Taylor Prewitt, social media editor
Inside Voices Podcast
With our social lives largely on pause these days, I’m finding solace in talky, meandering podcasts where I can lose myself in the inner lives of interviewees. Los Angeles–based writer, comedian, podcaster, and Ellen truther Kevin T. Porter, an alum of the University of Texas and a native North Texan, hosts just such a show. During each episode of Inside Voices, Porter speaks with a fellow creative type about their struggles and process, using their perception of their voice as a jumping-off point.
In the last episode of the season, “Demi Adejuyigbe Has a Nimble Voice,” Porter chats with the L.A.-based writer and comedian, also a UT alum and North Texan. (You might recall Adejuyigbe’s annual September 21 viral videos, which require an absolutely staggering amount of preparation and panache.) The two discuss the pressures of creating content for an internet audience; procrastinating on big projects by trying out random hobbies (often quite successfully); and that pesky perfectionistic feeling that you still haven’t achieved your career-defining thing. Porter, who himself has a terrifically melodic and expressive voice, is a thoughtful and sharp interviewer, and he and Adejuyigbe, who met in college (and later hosted the delightful comedy podcast Gilmore Guys), are able to unpack complicated ideas about professional success and motivation in a meditative yet irreverent way. Pandemic or not, it’s helpful to realize that brainy, successful people also struggle with imposter syndrome and inner critics. Stars: they’re just like us!
—Sarah Rutledge, assistant editor
It’s your favorite wannabe food critic, and I am back to fill you in on my latest dining adventures. I recently ventured back to my hometown of Dallas to try more tasty dishes. If you’re a Vietnamese food lover, and even if you’re not, I have a place for you. Sandwich Hag, located in the Cedars, is a fill-your-tummy, make-your-heart-sing restaurant that serves the best banh mi in town. And you will fall in love with chef Reyna Duong and her brother Sang Duong’s story and how they do business. Sang Duong has Down syndrome, and his work at the restaurant is a great example of inclusion in the workplace. The duo make the perfect team. Their food is rich, and it comes with an unmistakable element of humanity.
—Kathia Ramirez, art assistant
Roller Derby on Netflix
Recently, as a product of boredom and buying into a viral TikTok trend, I’ve taken up roller skating. Since getting my skates, I’ve consumed more than my fair share of skating content, from tutorials on how to skate properly to documentaries about roller dancing and roller derby. And I found that Netflix’s series Home Game, which takes a look at unusual and oftentimes dangerous sports around the world, has an episode featuring Austin’s own Texas Roller Derby, the world’s first all-women roller derby league.
The episode follows two teams—the underdog punk rockers the Cherry Bombs and “Texas’s team” the Rhinestone Cowgirls—as they train for an upcoming playoff match. Though their training’s intense and team members are serious about winning, you can tell the heart of the sport is the camaraderie and family built in the entirely DIY sport, with skaters doing everything together from promoting matches around town and even building the bank track that they skate on. If you’re missing that sense of community, and also just wanting to watch a sport (remember those?) that’s as empowering as it is entertaining, give this episode a watch.
—Arielle Avila, editorial coordinator