Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Thinking Sports

My brother-in-law sent me an interview between ESPN's Sports Guy Bill Simmons and Blink author Malcolm Gladwell. Now, I already have an abiding respect for Gladwell, after reading some excerpts from Blink and a couple of his stories from The New Yorker, some of which I've blogged about before.

What amazed me about this piece was . . . it was about sports. And I was really interested. Which is saying a lot about me, because I know next to nothing about sports, so much so that I don't even try to pretend any more with other guys. So now I think I know the true measure of when someone is a good writer: when they can make you completely interested in something you thought you had no interest in. I have occasionally had inklings of this phenomena when I had zero interest in history and was first exposed to James Burke, or even about sports when I starting hearing commentary from John Feinstein on NPR. But this completely took me in; I actually starting thinking I could care about sports, if everyone talked about it with this much intelligence and wit.

If you read the piece, and you have no interest in sports but love good writing, pay attention to how delicately Gladwell skewers the various players and managers who have earned his contempt. Never did I read such gentlemanly trash-talking. It reminds me of Oscar Wilde's quip: "A gentleman is someone who never insults someone unintentionally." He eviscerates so cleanly you almost don't feel the knife go in. Even Joe Morgenstern's film critiques (which I love) look ham-handed in comparison.


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