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.
On this episode, Matt Tullis talks with Brendan O’Meara. O’Meara is the host of the Creative Nonfiction Podcast. On that show, he talks to writers, filmmakers, producers, and podcasters who he admires. They talk about the art and craft of telling true stories, unpacking their origin stories as well as tips and habits so that listeners can apply those tools in their own work.
Tullis was a guest on the Creative Nonfiction Podcast back in September of 2017, when O’Meara talked with him about his memoir, Running With Ghosts. Recently, O’Meara hosted Glenn Stout, who talked about his new book, The Pats: An Illustrated History of the New England Patriots, which was just released.
O’Meara is also a reporter and a writer. In 2016, he published the story “The Day That Never Comes” in the online magazine Proximity. That story, which we talk about in this episode, ultimately won Proximity’s Narrative Journalism prize for the year it was published. He is also the author of Six Weeks in Saratoga: How Three-Year-Old Filly Rachel Alexandra Beat the Boys and Became Horse of the Year.
Pamela Colloff is a senior reporter at ProPublica and a writer-at-large at The New York Times Magazine. She was the third guest on the podcast back in January 2013, when she talked about her Texas Monthly series “The Innocent Man.” That episode has unfortunately been lost. Colloff ultimately won the National Magazine Award in Feature Writing for that story.
On this show, Colloff talks about her two-part series, “Blood Will Tell,” her first project for ProPublica and the New York Times Magazine. In this extraordinary project, Colloff tells the story of Joe Bryan, a former principal in Texas and a man many believe was wrongfully-convicted of murdering his wife.
Prior to joining ProPublica and the Times in 2017, Colloff was an executive editor and staff writer at Texas Monthly. Her work has also appeared in The New Yorker and has been anthologized in “Best American Magazine Writing,” “Best American Crime Reporting,” “Best American Non-Required Reading,” and “Next Wave: America’s New Generation of Great Literary Journalists.”
She is a six-time National Magazine Award finalist. Her 2010 story, “Innocence Lost” — about a wrongly convicted death row inmate named Anthony Graves — was credited with helping Graves win his freedom after 18 years behind bars. One month after its publication, all charges against Graves were dropped and he was released from jail, where he had been awaiting retrial.
In 2014, the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University awarded her the Louis M. Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism.
Her oral history “96 Minutes,” about the 1966 University of Texas shootings, served as the basis for the 2016 documentary, “TOWER,” which was short-listed for an Academy Award in Best Documentary Film.
On this episode of Gangrey: The Podcast, host and producer Matt Tullis talks with Christopher Goffard about “Dirty John,” a combination print series and podcast. Goffard is an author and staff writer for the Los Angeles Times. “Dirty John” focuses on the relationship between Deborah Newell and John Meehan. It was a relationship Deborah’s children hated, and one that ended in the death of one person.
Goffard shared in the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for the LA Times’ investigation into the city of Bell, California. He has twice been a Pulitzer finalist for feature writing, in 2007 and 2014. His book, “You Will See Fire: A Search for Justice in Kenya” was based on his LA Times’ series and was published in 2011.
He’s also a successful fiction writer. His novel “Snitch Jacket” was a finalist for the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best First Novel in 2008.
Walt Harrington is a former staff writer for the Washington Post Magazine. He’s now a journalism professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Harrington has written a number of award-winning books, including “The Everlasting Stream,” which was turned into an Emmy-winning PBS documentary.
His book “Intimate Journalism,” has been a staple of journalism writing classes for more than 15 years. Last year, he co-edited an anthology called “Next Wave: America’s New Generation of Great Literary Journalists.” He produced that book with Esquire writer Mike Sager, a former podcast guest. The book features 19 stories written by journalists who are all under the age of 40.
In May 2014, Harrington’s book “Acts of Creation: America’s Finest Hand Craftsmen at Work,” was published by The Sager Group. That book consists of 14 portraits of people who work with their hands, including a fireplace maker in Maine, a cabinet maker in Maryland and a locksmith in Ohio.
Since talking with Matt Tullis on the podcast, Harrington write another book: “Artful Journalism: Essays in the Craft and Magic of True Storytelling.”
Mike Sager is a bestselling author and award-winning reporter who has been called the beat poet of American journalism. He currently works as a writer at large for Esquire Magazine, and is also the editor and publisher of The Sager Group, a consortium of multimedia artists and writers.
Sager recently co-edited the book, “Next Wave: America’s New Generation of Great Literary Journalists.” He’s also released a collection of his own magazine stories called “The Someone You’re Not,” as well as a novel titled “High Tolerance.”
Sager began his journalism career in the Washington Post newsroom, working for Bob Woodward. He went on to write for dozens of high profile magazines, including GQ, Playboy, Rolling Stone, Vibe, Spy and Interview, among many others. In 2010, he won a National Magazine Award for profile writing for his story on former NFL quarterback Todd Marinovich.
Flinder Boyd is a former professional basketball player who now writes longform journalism. For 10 years, he played as a point guard in the lower and upper levels of many professional European basketball leagues.
Now he’s writing, often about basketball. His story “20 Minutes at Rucker Park” profiles a young man’s cross-country journey on a Greyhound bus to New York City’s streetball Mecca.
That story was published on SB Nation Longform. It was subsequently a Longform selection and named by Longreads a Top 5 Longread of the Week. It was also a Nieman Storyboard recommended reading selection and earned Boyd Longread’s Favorite New Writer Discovery in 2013. Finally, Sports on Earth called the story a Top 20 sports story in 2013. To top things off, the story was anthologized in Best American Sports Writing 2014.
He’s written two other stories for SB Nation Longform; a profile of NBA player Chris Copeland and a first-hand account of the corruption and chaos of playing professional basketball in Slovakia.
Since joining the podcast, Boyd has started writing for many other outlets, including Rolling Stone, Newsweek and Fox Sports, where he wrote about Rafael Palmeiro in April 2016.
Boyd has also written for The Classical, Sports On Earth and BBC online among others. You can follow him on Twitter @FlinderBoyd.