Texas Matters: 'Kings Of Big Spring'; 'House Built On Ashes'; & 'The Talented Ribkins' | Texas Public Radio

Texas Matters: 'Kings Of Big Spring'; 'House Built On Ashes'; & 'The Talented Ribkins'

Apr 6, 2018

On this episode of "Texas Matters":

  • We talk to Bryan Mealer, author of  "The Kings of Big Spring." 
  • Then Jose Antonio Rodriguez stops by to discuss his book, "House Built on Ashes" (13:00).
  • And finally, "The Talented Ribkins" is reviewed by contributor Yvette Benavides (23:11).


Big Spring is the seat of Howard County in West Texas. It has a population of about 30,000 but that number rises and falls with the price of crude oil. It’s the largest municipality between Midland to the west, Abilene to the east, Lubbock to the north and San Angelo to the south.  

It’s also where the Mealy family ended up, and where the story by journalist and writer Bryan Mealer begins. Mealer is best known for his war reporting in Africa and the bestseller “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.”

His latest book is “The Kings of Big Spring: God, Oil and One Family’s search for the American Dream.”  Mealer tells us the research and writing of the book helped him understand his family, their struggles and the forces that made their lives so difficult.

'House Built on Ashes'

The bible tells us that it’s the fool who builds his house on sand. According to the parable, the rains will come and the house will be washed away. But what about a house built on ashes? According to Texas writer Jose Antonio Rodriguez, that’s where the poor live. At least that’s where his family built their house when he was born in a village in Mexico. Rodriguez talks about his memoir “House Built on Ashes.”

Rodriguez is a professor of creative writing at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. He has also written "The Shallow End of Sleep" and "Backlit Hour."

The Talented Ribkins

Do you know anyone with abilities so sublime, they seem like superheroes?  That describes the way some view members of our own families.

In Ladee Hubbard’s debut novel, we see the ways families embody heroic qualities as they make their way in a flawed and trying world.  Texas Public Radio contributor Yvette Benavides has a review of "The Talented Ribkins."


David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org or on Twitter @DavidMartinDavi