John Spong

Senior Editor John Spong holds a B.A. and a J.D. from the University of Texas. In 1997, after working two years as a civil litigator, he joined Texas Monthly as a fact-checker, then moved into a staff writing position in 2002. He was nominated for a National Magazine Award in 2010 for his story on 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, and his stories have appeared in numerous collections, including Best Food Writing 2012 (Da Capo Press, 2012) and The Best American Sports Writing 2009 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009). Inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters in 2013, Spong also sits on the advisory council of the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University. He lives in Austin, his home since 1971, with his wife Julie Blakeslee and their son, Willie Mo.

Stories

Light in the Darkness

The title of James Evans’s new series of Big Bend photographs is “The Camera Never Sleeps.” It doesn’t matter, apparently, that the photographer does.

My Life As an Illegal

You’ve heard enough from the politicians and the activists, the demagogues and the bleeding hearts. Here’s my story. I only wish I could put my name on it. By Immigrant X

My Friend Willie

Writer Larry L. King talks about his new book, In Search of Willie Morris.

Would You Buy What This Man Is Selling?

With the military stretched thinner than ever, Staff Sergeant Christopher Schwope’s skill as an Army recruiter is undeniably important. And it’s a thing to behold.

The Man In the White Hat

To hear John Poindexter tell it, he’s one of the good guys—a faithful steward of his West Texas land and therefore a worthy bidder for 46,000 acres of Big Bend Ranch State Park. But sometimes having your heart in the right place simply isn’t enough.

Embarrassment of Riches

At Westlake, even if your parents wouldn’t spring for Ralph Lauren, you could still work your way into the in crowd.

Dome Away From Home

Inside the Eighth Wonder of the World—the largest shelter ever organized by the American Red Cross—faith, hope, and charity helped the survivors of Hurricane Katrina begin the process of rebuilding their lives.

Six Brothers

The tragedy of the Von Erichs—the state’s first family of pro wrestling—is well known not just to fans of the sport but to the many groupies who oohed and aahed at the matinee-idol athletes over the years. Still, you haven’t really heard the story until it’s told by the sole surviving sibling, whose eldest son may be the next one to step into the ring.

“Friedman’s Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose”

The Kinky-for-governor circus pulls into Galveston.

A Sell of a Town

Catching up with characters from our pages—A new owner for Cornudas.

Pug

He asked me if I was going to be white my whole life. I was, of course. But because of our friendship, I’m no longer the clueless upper-middle-class kid I once was.

Strangers on a Train

There was something irresistibly romantic about the gutter punk’s description of stowing away in freight cars. No wonder I wanted to try it—even if, at 38, I probably should have thought to myself, “You’re too old for this.”

L. on Wheels

Eight days in a rental car with Larry L. King, the crotchety West Texan who has written some of the greatest magazine stories of all time, would be enough to drive anyone crazy. Except his biggest fan.

The Shot Not Heard Round the World

Elmo Henderson’s entire life story can be summed up in a single moment: when he stepped into the ring in San Antonio one night in 1972 and knocked out Muhammad Ali. At least that’s the way he tells it. And tells it.

Wheels of Fortune

For automakers in the U.S. and overseas, Texas is the very best market for the pickup truck. And for Texans, the pickup truck is the very best vehicle—if only for what it says about who we are. Or who we’d like to be.

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