What to read, hear, watch, and look at to achieve maximum Texas cultural literacy.
Black-Eyed Susans, Julia Heaberlin
(Ballantine, July 28)
In her third Texas-set thriller, former Fort Worth Star–Telegram writer and editor Heaberlin lays out a knotty mystery involving a decades-old serial killing, a man rotting away in prison for a crime he may not have committed, and a woman, leery of the criminal justice system, trying to protect both her young daughter and the traumatized, younger self she has never let go of.
You From Before, Telegraph Canyon (Velvet Blue Music, July 31)
There’s a reason why this Fort Worth sextet took five years to put out the follow-up to its twangy, cinematic breakthrough, The Tide and the Current. Or, rather, a number of reasons: front man Chris Johnson’s divorce, his extended bout of homelessness, and, no surprise, some lineup changes. Again, no surprise, the album that has emerged from this period of turmoil is a moody affair.
West Texas Investors Club (CNBC, Tuesdays, August 4–September 22)
In this reality series, “self-made multimillionaires” Butch Gilliam and Rooster McConaughey (older brother of you-know-who) hold auditions for—which is to say, terrorize—would-be entrepreneurs. Think Shark Tank tricked out with mullets, hunting rifles, and Texas-size boasting (“I was gonna invent Facebook, but the technology part of it is not mah for-tay”).
Frank Reaugh: Landscapes of Texas and the American West (Harry Ransom Center, August 4–November 29)
The loose brushwork of the “Dean of Texas Artists” may owe a debt to the European Impressionists who emerged when Reaugh was a student, but the carefully rendered Great Plains and majestic Longhorns in this exhibit demonstrate a native Illinoisan’s love of his adopted state.
Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Houston Texans
(HBO, Tuesdays, beginning August 11)
The Texans’ season run-up will provide thrills for fans of big-hitting defenders (thanks to J. J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney) and middling quarterback competitions (courtesy of Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett). If you can’t make it to camp in person, HBO’s celebrated documentary series should hit the spot.
Sonic Wind, Craig Ryan (Liveright, August 17)
John Paul Stapp, a.k.a. “The Fastest Man on Earth,” may be the most important Texan you’ve probably never heard of. As this biography demonstrates, the Baylor and UT grad’s daring, mid-century experiments—he rode a rocket sled that traveled faster than a speeding bullet—made possible both modern jet-fighter technology and the shoulder-strap seat belt that most of us take for granted today.