In Travels with Charley, the John Steinbeck classic chronicling the great American road trip, the writer pens a meditation on Texas that reads, in part: “For all its enormous range of space, climate, and physical appearance, and for all the internal squabbles, contentions, and strivings, Texas has a tight cohesiveness perhaps stronger than any other section of America. Rich, poor, Panhandle, Gulf, city, country, Texas is the obsession, the proper study, and the passionate possession of all Texans.”
With her new book, How to be a Texan, Austin-based writer and TexasMonthly.com editor Andrea Valdez explores this “passionate possession” with an epic, 206-page guide to all things Texan. With dozens of how-to’s including to how to bag a javelina, how to survive “cedar fever,” and how to two-step, Valdez’s book is a must-read manual for anyone looking to learn more about the wild and wonderful state.
A native Houstonian and University of Texas graduate, Valdez first left the Lone Star State in her 20s, when she moved to Chicago to attend Northwestern University’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism. “When I was there I got really homesick,” says Valdez. “My mom and dad would mail me care packages. They would send me El Milagro tortilla chips, Wolf Brand Chili… it just kind of really fortified this nostalgia and homesickness for Texas.”
In 2006, after graduating from Medill, Valdez returned home to take a fact-checker position at Texas Monthly. A year later she began a column called “The Manual” which chronicled things that every Texan should know how to do. Valdez wrote more than 40 installments of “The Manual” which in turn served as the basis of the book, which will be published in May by University of Texas Press.
On the eve of her book’s launch, Valdez invited TRIBEZA into her Windsor Park home to learn once and for all how to truly be a Texan.