Saturday, July 21, 2012

Jack McCallum

Jack McCallum is the author of Seven Seconds or Less and was a longtime member of the staff of Sports Illustrated. He has edited the weekly SCORECARD section of the magazine, has written scripts for various SI Sportsman of the Year shows, and is currently a Special Contributor to the magazine and He has won the Curt Gowdy Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the National Women Sports Foundation Media Award and teaches college journalism.

McCallum's new book is Dream Team: How Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles, and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Changed the Game of Basketball Forever.

Late last month I asked him what he was reading.  His reply:
One of the advantages of being a journalist/writer for five decades is that you have a lot of friends who write books. So you can read them and hope they’re good … but not too good. One of the too-good ones is Chris Ballard’s One Shot at Forever, a non-fiction tale of a ragtag Illinois high school baseball team that achieves great things. Sounds corny, right? Not in Ballard’s telling. It has echoes of Friday Night Lights by Buzz Bissinger, who supplied a Buzz-blurb for the back cover.

I generally alternate my reads between fiction and non-fiction, so I can appear both artistic and au courant. I just caught up to Tom Perotta’s The Leftovers, whose premise is wonderfully dark and outrageous while his prose is tightly controlled. How did he do that?

I wanted to read a Civil War book since everybody has to read a Civil War book. (Ken Burns insists on it.) So I’m reading April 1865, by Jay Winik. It carries the subtitle of The Month That Saved America, meaning that every word has to be directed toward proving the premise. I usually hate that setup, but in that particular month we had—to name but two minor events—the assassination of our greatest President and the surrender at Appomattox. So Winik, both splendid writer and splendid historian, is able to pull it off.

Finally, I’m going to the Olympics to write for the NBC website, and on the way over I plan to read Carry The One, a novel by Carol Anshaw. It’s by no means an “airplane book”—much tragedy ensues following a wedding—but my wife will be sitting beside me and reading the same book so we can argue about it. We do that once in a while.
Visit Jack McCallum's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue