Saturday, September 30, 2006

Tom Callahan's book list

Award-winning sportswriter Tom Callahan came up with an intriguing list of books for The Week. Here is half of it:
Semi-Tough by Dan Jenkins

A rancid movie was made of this football novel, involving Burt Reynolds, Bert Convy, and several other guys named Burt. They kept in the raunchiness but left out an amazing gentleness that is Jenkins.

Patterns by Rod Serling

An especially valuable little manual for a writer. His most famous teleplays are here: Patterns, Requiem for a Heavyweight, The Rack, Old Macdonald Had a Curve. But the real benefit is in the candor of the narratives in-between. Serling tells what the idiot producers shouldn’t have taken out and what the idiot writer shouldn’t have left in. And no space is wasted on modesty. “This part here,” he says, “is a hell of a piece of writing.”

Secretariat by William Nack

A horse opera for those of us who barely know which end of a horse eats. When Secretariat comes into the homestretch alone, and he keeps coming and coming, and he’s still alone, the trees sway and a gust of wind hits you in the face. You suddenly are aware that perfection is possible. (Maybe it helps that I was standing at the finish line.)
Click here to see the rest of Callahan's list.

Callahan is a former Washington Post columnist and the author of four books. His biography of Johnny Unitas, Johnny U: The Life and Times of Johnny Unitas, has just been published by Crown.

Click here to read an excerpt from Johnny U.

David Maraniss, author of When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi praised Callahan's book:
If there were a Mount Rushmore of pro football, the craggy face of Unitas would be one of the four figures on it. Tom Callahan is the perfect writer to tell the real story of Johnny U, and he does it with deep reporting and clear writing, cracking a myth etched in stone and bringing back to vivid life the real man.
--Marshal Zeringue