I love books. They're fun, educational, and they are helpful in the preparation of food.
Aside from movies, sports are my other passion. I think the connections are easy to spot. Following a season of Major League Baseball or the NBA is a lot like following a year of movies. New stars emerge. Old reliables again prove their worth--or begin their slide into irrelevancy. Teams, like heavily anticipated blockbusters, can disappoint us. (I am convinced the 2011 Phillies were "Captain America: The First Avenger".) Or like some great indie that builds momentum slowly, a team can come out of nowhere and surprise us. This would be the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals.
The San Antonio Spurs are like Merchant-Ivory films; the Yankees are like the Weinstein Brothers. I could do this all day.
Sports feature storylines and high drama and miraculous endings, which is why so many movies about sports get made. But there are many great books that feature sports. And, here's a secret: They can be savored in the same way as "Raging Bull" or "The Damned United" or "Major League".
Jeff Pearlman recently wrote "Sweetness," a wonderful biography of Walter Payton, the famed Chicago Bears running back. The best thing about the book is how Pearlman peels away Payton's good citizen facade and reveals a flawed, fragile soul whose life was marked with infidelity, drug use, and a crumbling marriage.
The tone is not salacious. Pearlman just tells a great story of a man--thanks to nearly 700 interviews--who worked tirelessly to become a legend but lost his confidence once the cheering stopped.
Being a football fan isn't a prerequisite here; you just have to enjoy excellent books that dare to reveal a legend's soul. How hard is that?
I should also mention that Pearlman has been remarkably helpful as a source for my "Athletic Supporter" column at BiblioBuffet. He's never been too busy to answer an email or help out with a story. For that, I'm extremely grateful.
That's it for now. Until next month, read in peace.