A Writer’s Craft
Early in his writing career, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy developed a gift for touching a nerve. As a student at the University of Tennessee, McCarthy published in the school’s literary supplement, the Phoenix, a short story titled “A Drowning Incident,” which included a description of dead puppies in a stream. A similar scene appeared 25 years later in McCarthy’s novel, Blood Meridian, and at the exhibit “Cormac McCarthy: Unveiling a Literary Legend,” these two works are paired to help viewers delve into McCarthy’s writing process. The exhibit draws from the Cormac McCarthy papers, acquired in 2008 by the Southwestern Writers Collection at Texas State University, and is divided into four categories: his sources of inspiration, with the real-life people who became his fictional characters, like his son in The Road; his research, with a focus on how he borrowed from J. Frank Dobie, a Texas writer, for his book The Crossing; his love of film, with an emphasis on how All the Pretty Horses and No Country for Old Men began as screenplays; and his editing, with a scene that was deleted from Child of God, the intensely violent story that James Franco adapted for the big screen. “The scene is sort of hard to describe,” the exhibit curator, Steven L. Davis, said. “It’s definitely not suitable for family newspapers.”
Texas State University, through Dec. 19, thewittliffcollections.txstate.edu
The reputation of Marfa, a popular West Texas desert enclave, actually harkens to an article from The Texas Observer published on June 27, 1955. Billy Lee Brammer, the author of the 1962 political novel The Gay Place, wrote presciently about the Marfa scene while reporting on the filming of the movie Giant, describing it as “something like seeing a mob of zoot-suited drugstore cowboys.” To see what Marfa is all about now, consider heading out next week for the Trans-Pecos Festival of Music and Love. A three-day lineup of about two dozen musical acts, including the Texas exemplars Bill Callahan, Robert Ellis, Heartless Bastards, and Mother Falcon, will be interspersed with community-building workshops like Cosmic Cactus Utopiary, Paper Marbling, and Introduction to the Ukulele, all amid the tapestry of teepees and trailers on the El Cosmico campgrounds. The Barbacoa Cosmicoa pig roast, presided over by the Austin chef Lou Lambert for the revelers on the closing night, will bring to mind the massive barbecue scene from Giant.
El Cosmico, Sept. 25-28, elcosmico.com
Since August 8, an all-star lineup of wise girls and guys has toured the country, bringing levity to sixteen cities for the Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival. The headliners alone, including Aziz Ansari, Louis C.K., and Sarah Silverman, have more than 13 million Twitter followers combined. That is a lot of laughs. They will bring their caravan of about two dozen very funny people (Amy Schumer, Marc Maron, Reggie Watts, to name a few) to Dallas, The Woodlands, and Austin for three final shows, where they will presumably be at the top of their game.
Gexa Energy Pavilion, Sept. 19; Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, Sept. 20; Austin360 Amphitheater, Sept. 21, oddballfest.com
The season opener for the seventy-fifth anniversary of the San Antonio Symphony will be in the new Tobin Center. Take full advantage of the venue, a refurbished version of the historic Municipal Auditorium, by riding in a water taxi from a restaurant on the San Antonio River to the specially designed water taxi portal, or “second front door,” of the performance hall. Enter the two-thousand-seat venue and savor a performance by Renée Fleming, a four-time Grammy-winning soprano whose 2013 album, “Guilty Pleasures,” features collaborations with Sebastian Lang-Lessing, the symphony’s conductor. Or just enjoy the show on the new thirty-foot video wall in the outdoor plaza.
Tobin Center, Sept. 20, 8 p.m., sasymphony.org
Attendees of the twenty-eighth annual Library and Museum Collections Forum, “Home on the Range: The Texas Landscape in Art and Music,” will reap the bounty of the state’s culture, with lectures and performances that will reveal, among other things, how the Christoval Artists Colony predates Donald Judd and the Chinati Foundation in West Texas and how the cowboy songs of David Guion, who composed “Home on the Range,” have influenced New York theater.
Round Top Festival Institute, Sept. 20, 8 a.m., festivalhill.org
Take a Hit
Now that it is known that marijuana does not incite murder and mayhem, as Reefer Madness, the 1936 cult propaganda film suggests, people can attend Reefer Madness: The Musical, prepared to laugh when someone does something like jumping out of a window in a tall building after smoking a joint.
The Hobby Center, Sept. 25 to Oct. 5, tutsunderground.com