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News Release — October 26, 2010

A Celebration & Conversation with Gary Cartwright, Jake Silverstein, John Spong

SAN MARCOS, Texas—On Thursday, November 11, 2010, the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University-San Marcos and Texas Monthly celebrate the career of Gary Cartwright, one of the state’s finest journalists, as he retires from the magazine. Texas Monthly editor Jake Silverstein and senior editor John Spong will join Cartwright in a conversation about how feature stories are created, the writer/editor relationship, and some of the stand-out pieces Cartwright has written over the years.

The November 11 event opens with a reception for Cartwright at 6:30 p.m. The discussion with Cartwright, Silverstein, and Spong begins at 7:30 p.m. followed by a Q&A with the audience. Books by Cartwright and Silverstein will be available for purchase, and they will sign books after the Q&A. Admission is free and open to the public.

The Wittliff Collections are located on the seventh floor of the Alkek Library at Texas State University in San Marcos. 

The Wittliff Collections hold the major production archive for Texas Monthly magazine as well as Gary Cartwright’s literary papers. “Gary Cartwright is more than an accomplished journalist, he’s an inspiration to new generations of writers,” says Wittliff Collections curator Steve Davis. “We have an important relationship with Texas Monthly and Cartwright both as the home for their archives, and we are so pleased to host this event recognizing Cartwright’s career.”


Gary Cartwright’s first Texas Monthly feature appeared in the magazine’s premiere issue, published February 1973, and he has contributed countless others since. According to editor Jake Silverstein, Cartwright’s features have been “a showcase for his big-hearted fearlessness, his honesty, his compassion, his toughness, and his distinctive voice—hard-boiled, weird, lyrical, and funny as hell.”

Cartwright received his BA in journalism from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. During his distinguished career as a newspaper reporter and freelance writer he has contributed stories to such national publications as Harper’s, Life, Rolling Stone, and Esquire. In addition to his work as a journalist, Cartwright is also the author of several books, including Blood Will Tell, Confessions of a Washed-up Sportswriter, and Turn Out the Lights: Chronicles of Texas During the 80s and 90s, which was published in the Wittliff’s Southwestern Writers Collection series. His screenwriting credits include the films J.W. Coop and Pair of Aces.

Cartwright was a finalist for a National Magazine Award in 1986 in the category of reporting excellence with “The Last Roundup” (published by Texas Monthly in February 1985). He has been honored with a Dobie-Paisano fellowship, the Texas Institute of Letters Stanley Walker Award for Journalism for “The Endless Odyssey of Patrick Henry Polk” (May 1977), and the Carr P. Collins Award for nonfiction. In 1989, his story “The Work of the Devil” (June 1989) won the Press Club of Dallas Katie Award for Best Magazine News Story, and he received the Headliners Club of Austin best magazine story award for “Showdown at Waggoner Ranch” (January 2004).

Cartwright has been a member of the Texas Monthly staff since 1982. His pieces written for the magazine will begin with his February 1973 feature.


Jake Silverstein received a BA in English from Wesleyan University, an MA in English from Hollins University in Virginia, and an MFA in Creative Writing from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. He was a reporter at the Big Bend Sentinel in Marfa from 1999 to 2000, and a 2002 Fulbright Scholar in Zacatecas, Mexico. Silverstein is a Contributing Editor to Harper’s, and his essay for that magazine, “Highway Run,” about a Mexican road race, won the 2007 PEN/USA Journalism Award. His work has also been featured in several anthologies, including the Best American Travel Writing 2002, and Submersion Journalism, a 2008 collection of first-person nonfiction. W. W. Norton published his first book, Nothing Happened and Then It Did: A Chronicle in Fact and Fiction, in 2010. Silverstein began working for Texas Monthly in 2006 as a senior editor, and in September 2008 he took the helm as the magazine’s fourth editor, following William Broyles Jr., Gregory Curtis, and Evan Smith.


John Spong holds a bachelor’s degree in history and a juris doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin. In 1997, after a brief stint as a civil litigator in Austin, he joined Texas Monthly as a fact-checker. He became a staff writer in 2002. In 2010, Spong was nominated for a National Magazine Award in the category of Leisure Interests for his story about Texas dance halls, “Step Right Up” (December 2009). He is a four-time finalist for the Texas Institute of Letters’ O. Henry Award for Magazine Journalism, which he won in 2006 for “The Good Book and the Bad Book” (September 2006) and again in 2010 for “Holding Garmsir” (January 2009). His story “King’s Ransom” (October 2003) was collected in Literary Austin (TCU Press, 2007), and his story “Sand Trap” (May 2002) appeared in Rio Grande (University of Texas Press, 2004). Spong was also named 2005 Writer of the Year by the City and Regional Magazine Association. He is currently a senior editor with Texas Monthly.