About the Author
I'm a journalist, biographer, and novelist with twelve books and scores of magazine articles and essays published over a forty-year career. I recently won a career achievement award from the Texas Institute of Letters.
Let the People In, my biography of former Texas governor Ann Richards, was published in 2012 with strong favorable reviews in the Washington Post, Economist, Texas Monthly, and many other publications. The biography won awards from the Texas State Historical Association and the Philosophical Society of Texas for books published in 2012; the Houston Chronicle listed it as one of the ten best nonfiction books published in the U.S. that year. My novel Comanche Sundown was honored as best fiction 2011 by the Texas Institute of Letters. It was particularly gratifying to have that book ranked by peers on a par with previous winners that include Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove, Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses, and Katherine Anne Porter's Ship of Fools.
My 2010 biography of Doug Sahm, Texas Tornado, was an Oxford Magazine Music Book of the Year. My other books include The Bullet Meant for Me, The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock, Rio Grande, Close Calls, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, and my award-winning first novel Deerinwater.
My short nonfiction has appeared in Texas Monthly, Esquire, Men's Journal, Garden & Gun, Slate, the New York Times Magazine, and many other publications. I've also edited several published books by other authors, among them the best-selling Molly Ivins and the Rolling Stone pioneer Grover Lewis. My work has appeared in anthologies that include Best American Sportswriting, The Slate Diaries, The Best of Texas Monthly, and the new Curiosity's Cats: Writers on Research. I'm well into a new novel titled Sins of the Younger Sons. An excerpt of an early chapter was the only fiction selected for the first issue of the fine quarterly Northern Liberties Review.
Born in Abilene, Texas in 1945, Jan Reid grew up in the oil town of Wichita Falls. After graduating from Midwestern University, he took a master’s degree in American studies at the University of Texas in Austin. While working as a reporter for the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, he became one of the lead contributors of the newborn Texas Monthly. His third feature for that magazine spawned his first book, The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock, a pop culture classic about the explosion of country-folk-rock music in Austin, first published in 1974 and still in print. Then he switched gears: two Texas Monthly stories, “Busting Out of Mexico,” about a jailbreak in the border town of Piedras Negras, and “The Texan and His Gun,” which triggered an avalanche of angry mail, announced his arrival as a veteran reporter and nonfiction stylist.
Simultaneously, a coveted Dobie-Paisano fellowship allowed him to start his first novel, Deerinwater, which was published in 1985. But for a while magazine writing continued to define him. In addition to Texas Monthly, his widely varied freelance articles appeared in Esquire, GQ, Men’s Journal, Garden & Gun, the New York Times Magazine, Slate, and other magazines. His stories have won awards from the Texas Institute of Letters, PEN, and the National Endowment for the Arts. His nonfiction has been anthologized in The Best of Texas Monthly, The Slate Diaries, twice in Best American Sportswriting, and Cat’s Cradles: Writers on Research.
Reid has written seven nonfiction books and co-authored three others. He is proudest of The Bullet Meant for Me, a 2002 memoir of falling prey to a robbery in Mexico City and his recovery from near-fatal injuries and paraplegia, and his 2012 biography of a late friend and Texas governor, Let the People In: The Life and Times of Ann Richards.
Though he is best known for his nonfiction, Reid’s first love has always been fiction. Comanche Sundown, propelled by the last Comanche war chief, Quanah Parker, and Bose Ikard, a freed slave cowboy, won the Texas Institute’s fiction of the year for 2010, an honor that has previously gone to a wealth of talents that include Katherine Anne Porter, Larry McMurtry, Cormac McCarthy. And in a dramatic change of themes and settings, in 2017 his third novel is Sins of the Younger Sons, a ranch-reared Texan’s love story that unfolds amid the exotic history and conflict of the Basque Country of France and Spain.
Overcoming a host of setbacks and detours, Jan refused to give up on both of those novels for over thirty years.
Jan makes his home in Austin with his wife Dorothy Browne and their collie Gus. In 2013 the Texas Institute of Letters honored Reid with its Lonn Tinkle award for lifetime career achievement.
Jan interviews rancher Jep White in the 1970s
Jan hard at work in his office in Austin, TX.
Other books by Jan Reid can be bought from Amazon.com or through its rare book contractors:
Vain Glory, on football in Texas, 1986.
Close Calls, a collection of magazine articles, 2000.
Boy Genius: Karl Rove, with Lou Dubose and Carl Cannon, 2003.
Rio Grande, writers and photographers on the border stream, 2004. Amazon
The Hammer: Tom DeLay, with Lou Dubose, 2004.
Layla and Assorted Long Songs, on the great rock album, 2006.
Texas Tornado: Doug Sahm, with Shawn Sahm, 2010.