Eli Saslow (2014)

This episode is a rebroadcast of the interview Matt Tullis did with Eli Saslow back in September 2014. Saslow, a reporter for the Washington Post, had just won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for his six-part series on food stamps in a post-recession America. Tullis and Saslow talked about that series and much more.

Since joining the podcast, Saslow has continued to write compelling stories that show the big issues facing our country in minute detail. He’s written about the opioid epidemic, how the made-up stories get passed around the Internet as news, immigration, and more. In June 2018, he wrote a story about the school resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who didn’t go into the school to engage the shooter.

Saslow’s story about a white supremacist turning his back on the movement was ultimately expanded into a book. Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist was published by Penguin Random House in September 2018. The paperback version of that book will be on sale on September 3 of this year.

Saslow has won more awards than I can list. He won the Pulitzer in 2014, and was a finalist for that award in 2013, 2016, and 2017.

Episode 76: Rachel Monroe

On this episode, Rachel Monroe talks with host Matt Tullis. Monroe’s first book, Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime and Obsession, was published by Scribner. It went on sale today, August 19.

 The book tells the stories of four true crimes that had women intimately involved in them, but all in different capacities. 

Monroe is a freelance writer based in Marfa, Texas. She also serves as a volunteer firefighter there. She’s written about crime, communes, utopias, drones, small town, firefighters, haunted houses, really just about everything. 

She was a finalist for a Livingston Award for Young Journalists in 2016 and was named one of 56 women journalists everyone should read by New York Magazine.

She’s been published by The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, Outside Magazine, The Atlantic, Texas Monthly, and Esquire, among many others. Her essay about murder, fandom, and adolescence, “Outside the Manson Pinkberry” was originally published in The Believer, and was anthologized in The Best American Travel Writing 2018.

Episode 75: Latria Graham

On this episode, host Matt Tullis talked with Latria Graham, a writer, editor and cultural critic currently living in South Carolina.

Graham’s writing revolves around the dynamics of race, gender norms, class, nerd culture, and sports. Back in 2016, she wrote one of the last pieces for SB Nation Longform. That piece was headlined “The Dark Knight Unmasked,” and was about the Carolina Panther’s Josh Norman.

Graham has also written some important pieces about race for The Establishment, which is no longer publishing. Fortunately, they’ve kept their stories online. One of those pieces was an essay written by Graham titled “Why, As A Black Woman, I Finally Decided To Take To The Streets.”

Graham’s first published piece ran on Ebony’s website. That was in May of 2013, and was about her struggles with bulimia.

Graham has written for ESPNW, Outside Magazine, Bicycling Magazine, the Guardian, Our State Magazine, Garden & Gun, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, and many other publications.

Episode 74: Amos Barshad

On this episode, I talk with Amos Barshad, the author of the book, “No One Man Should Have All That Power: How Rasputins Manipulate the World.” It was published by Abrams Press in April.

The book looks at the people in the shadows of the powerful who silently pull strings and wield their own power. It’s incredibly interesting and entertaining, covering Rasputins in everything from pop culture to crime, from professional sports to politics. It also covers the namesake Rasputin – Grigori Raputin, an almost mythical Russian mystic who had the ear and the trust of Prince Yusupof, until Rasputin was murdered.

Barshad was raised in Israel, the Netherlands and Massachusetts. He’s a former staff writer at The FADER and Grantland, and has written for The New Yorker, the New York Times, and Arkansas Times.

He had a piece in the New York Times in April about his grandmother, who in her own way, is a Rasputin herself.

Wil S. Hylton (2014)

This episode is a rebroadcast of the interview Matt Tullis did Wil S. Hylton in March of 2014. At the time, the two talked about Hylton’s new book, Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II.

The book focuses for the modern-day search for one American bomber that crashed over the Pacific Islands during the war. That bomber carried 11 men, who for decades, were listed as missing in action.

When Hylton started the piece, he thought it was going to be a magazine piece. He had no idea it would expand into his first book.

“I never really imagined that I would write a book to be honest,” Hylton says. “I venerate the magazine form. I always have. To me, it’s the perfect gem-like distillation of a story, and it comes with all of its own special habits and history that are quite different from either doing fiction books or newspaper writing, broadly speaking. I just love it. This is the form that I’ve always wanted to work in, but what happened was this particular story forced me to try a new medium.”

On May 8, Hylton had a new magazine piece published by The New York Times Magazine. It was headlined “My Cousin Was My Hero. Until the Day He Tried to Kill Me.” It’s a brutal yet important piece that looks at toxic masculinity and how it impacts all of us, and how it nearly ended Hylton’s life.

Hylton opens up entirely about his own life in this piece, and it’s not always pretty. That’s what makes the essay so effective, and, hopefully, imactful.

Hylton’s work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, The New Yorker, Esquire, GQ, Rolling Stone, New York, and many other magazines. He has been selected for numerous anthologies, including The Best Music Writing, Best American Political Writing, Best Business Stories, and Next Wave: America’s New Generation of Great Literary Journalists.

Episode 73: Philip Gerard

On this episode, host Matt Tullis talks with Philip Gerard, a professor in the Creative Writing Department at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (Gerard was one of Tullis’s professors when he was in the MFA program at UNCW), and the author of a new book about the Civil War.

The Last Battleground: The Civil War Comes to North Carolina was published in March by the University of North Carolina Press. The book is an extension of a series of nonfiction narratives that Gerard was writing for Our State magazine.

Gerard is also the author of Cape Fear Rising, a novel that is set in Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1898, a time when wealthy white residents massacred the growing and successful black culture in the city. That novel was originally published in 1994. Blair, the publisher, has reissued the book in a 25th anniversary edition, in part because so much of what is happening in the United States today mirrors Wilmington in 1898.

Gerard has written five novels and eight books of nonfiction. He’s written books like Creative Nonfiction: Researching and Crafting Stories of Real Life and Writing a Book That Makes a Difference. He’s written nonfiction narrative books like Secret Soldiers: The Story of World War II’s Heroic Army of Deception and The Patron Saint of Dreams. And he’s written fiction. In addition to Cape Fear Rising, Gerard has also written the novels Hatteras Light and Desert Kill, among others.

Episode 72: The Other Side

This episode focuses on Eli Saslow’s story “Into the Lonely Quiet,” which was about one Newtown family whose son was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

But instead of focusing on the reporting aspect of the story, as Gangrey episodes typically do, this episode is focused on the story’s subjects and what it was like to open their lives up during a traumatic and horrific time in their lives.

This is also the first episode of Gangrey: The Podcast that is told in story form, and not through straight interview. It’s a complimentary audio piece tied to a written story that host Matt Tullis wrote for Nieman Storyboard.

In this episode, Tullis talks with Mark Barden, the father of Sandy Hook victim Daniel Barden, Nicole Hockley, the mother of Sandy Hook victim Dylan Hockley, and Eli Saslow.

Wright Thompson (2013)

On this episode, I’m going to replay an interview I did Wright Thompson back in October of 2013.

Thompson’s first book was just released by Penguin Books this week. It’s titled “The Cost of These Dreams: Sports Stories and Other Serious Business.” It consists of 14 of Thompson’s previously published stories for ESPN. That includes the two stories that I talked with Wright about on this episode of the show – “Michael Jordan Has Not Left the Building,” and “The Losses of Dan Gable.”

Thompson’s profile on legendary wrestling coach Dan Gable is a perfect example of how and why reserved people open up to him.

The Dan Gable story came up right on the heels of Thompson’s profile of NBA legend Michael Jordan. That’s the story that leads of the book. With the Jordan story, Wright said he kept thinking of the classic Esquire profile on Ted Williams, which was written by Richard Ben Cramer. That story was titled “What Do You Think of Ted Williams Now.”

“That story is very much a North Star, and the thing I’ve always wanted to do, always, is write that story,” Thompson says. “I knew going in that they’re only a couple of athletes famous enough to make that even possible.”

The book is fantastic, of course. And it’s no surprise to me that after one week of sales, it’s already showing up at No. 4 on the New York Times Best Seller list for paperback nonfiction.

Episode 71: Carson Vaughan

On this episode, host Matt Tullis talks with Carson Vaughan, the author of the “Zoo Nebraska: The Dismantling of an American Dream,” which focuses on a small-town zoo in Royal, Nebraska, and its eventual downfall.

 Vaughan started reporting and writing this book as an undergraduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He then took the project to graduate school, where it was his master’s thesis in the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s MFA creative writing program. That’s the same program that Tullis graduated from in 2005.

“Zoo Nebraska” was published by Little A, an imprint of Amazon Publishing that focuses on literary fiction and nonfiction.

Vaughan is a freelance journalist who writes frequently about the Great Plains. He wrote “My Cousin, the Cowboy Poet” for the New Yorker. He’s also written for the New York Times, The Guardian, The Paris Review Daily, Outside, The Atlantic, Roads & Kingdoms, and Runner’s World, among others.

Episode 70: Michael Graff

On this episode, host Matt Tullis talks with Michael Graff. Graff was the guest on Episode 35, back in June of 2015. At the time, he was the editor of Charlotte Magazine. He was also writing for places like SB Nation Longform.

Now Graff is a freelance writer and editor. He recently published his first piece with ESPN.com, a story that focused on the life of former NBA legend Muggsy Bogues. That story, How Muggsy Bogues saved his brother’s life, and found the meaning of his own, explores the lives of two brothers, Muggsy, the superstar, and Chuckie, the older brother who spent many years battling drug addiction, but got clean once he started living with Muggsy.

While Graff is still doing a lot of reporting, he’s also started writing, and publishing, some incredibly moving and beautiful essays, including ones about a high school friend whose daughter battled childhood cancer and another about what happened when he tried to cut negative people out of his life.

In November, he had a wonderful essay titled “Longer Than the Song of the Whip-Poor-Will” published by the Oxford American.

Graff has written for ESPN, The Guardian, Garden & Gun, The Oxford American, Politico, SUCCESS, Washingtonian, Our State, and Southwest: The Magazine. He writes the monthly column for the back page of Charlotte magazine, where he was the editor from April 2013 to August 2017.