John Spong

Senior editor John Spong holds a bachelor’ degree in history and a J.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. In 1997, after a brief yet dramatically unfulfilling stint as a civil litigator in Austin, he joined Texas Monthly as a fact-checker. He became a staff writer in 2002. Spong was nominated for a National Magazine Award in 2010 for his story celebrating Texas dance halls, “Step Right Up” and has twice won the Texas Institute of Letters’ O. Henry Award for Magazine Journalism—for “The Good Book and the Bad Book,” about a censorship battle at a private school in Austin, and for “Holding Garmsir,” about a month he spent with a platoon of U.S. Marines fighting in Afghanistan. He is the author of A Book on the Making of Lonesome Dove (University of Texas Press, 2012), and his stories have been collected in Best Food Writing 2012 (Da Capo Press, 2012), the Best American Sportswriting 2009 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009), Literary Austin (TCU Press, 2007), and Rio Grande (University of Texas Press, 2004). In 2005 the City and Regional Magazine Association named Spong its national writer of the year. He has served on the board of the Texas Book Festival since 2008 and lived in Austin since 1971.

Stories

RIP, Larry L. King

The writer who was known for writing the book for the Broadway musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas died Thursday at 83. Read three of senior editor John Spong's favorite stories by the giant of Texas letters. 

A Q&A With Jan Reid

Senior editor John Spong talked with Jan Reid about his new Ann Richards biography, Let the People In. 

Confessions of a Seventh-Grade Texas History Teacher

Bobby Jackson has taught students in the Aransas County school district about the Plains Indians, the Battle of San Jacinto, and Spindletop since the state celebrated its sesquicentennial. How he does it bears no resemblance to the class I took when I was stuck in middle school.

Happy Birthday, Willie!

Four videos celebrating the Red Headed Stranger, who turns 79 today.

A Lifetime of Achievement for Gary Cartwright

The beloved Texas writer recently received the Texas Institute of Letters' Lon Tinkle Award for Lifetime Achievement. In his acceptance speech, he offered up a bit of advice for budding writers. 

That 70’s Show

Forty years ago, Willie, Waylon, Jerry Jeff, and a whole host of Texas misfits grew their hair long, snubbed Nashville, and brought the hippies and rednecks together. The birth of outlaw country changed country music forever.

Come and Take a Look at Me Now

Against all odds, Phil Collins has turned himself into a world-class Alamo buff who will happily talk your ear off about Santa Anna and Davy Crockett. Can you feel it coming in the Bexar tonight?

Sketchy Characters

Before cameras were allowed in courtrooms, artist Gary Myrick and his assortment of colored pencils provided Texas television audiences with a vivid look at the state’s high-profile legal proceedings against figures like T. Cullen Davis, Henry Lee Lucas, and Charles Harrelson.

Karen Wagner’s Life

She lived outside the spotlight, quietly serving her country as most members of the military do, until one terrible day.

Do I Dare to Eat a Peach?

As a kid I was the pickiest eater you have ever seen, and family meals gave new meaning to the words “food fight.” But I gritted my teeth and overcame it—one disgusting tomato at a time.

Giving a Tour of the Capitol

Richard Poland on giving tours of the Capitol.

Schoolhouse Rocked

How an angry parent’s e-mail turned an elite Houston private school into a political battleground.

Just Dance

As we mourn the passing of Club 21, one of the state's most beloved dance halls, remember to scoot across one of the many other historic, century-old two-stepping floors.

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