Friday, September 26, 2008
This week on Cover to Cover, Frank Reiss interviews David Maraniss about Maraniss's latest book Rome 1960. Here's a quick rundown from their conversation:
At the recently-ended Summer Olympics in China, the haul of gold medals by Michael Phelps, the otherworldly speed of the Jamaican sprinters and the fierce competition between American and Chinese gymnasts filled the airwaves for two solid weeks. As did talk of political propaganda, accusations of rule-breaking and other controversies large and small.
While it seems that the Olympics have forever been dominated in such a way, bestselling author David Maraniss argues in his most recent book, Rome, 1960: The Olympics That Changed the World, that it was at these particular summer games that the Olympics as we now know them first came into being.
That was the year when the world first became familiar with a clownish fighter from Louisville, Kentucky named Cassius Clay, who used the games as a springboard to become the most famous athlete the world has ever known: Muhammad Ali. But Maraniss goes to some lengths to restore Clay's proper place at the time: a definite second or third banana to the true heroes of that year, African-American track stars Wilma Rudolph and Rafer Johnson.
1960 was also the first Olympics for which an American television network purchased broadcast rights, and an unknown reporter named Jim McKay, working under the most primitive conditions imaginable, debuted in the role that made him as familiar as any Olympic performer.
And the Cold War politics of the day foreshadowed the political propaganda that continues to be inescapable in this quadrennial event that supposedly transcends politics.
But to Marannis--who has won the Pulitzer Prize and authored a string of bestsellers about both sports and politics--these political overtones and social developments don't detract from the games, they give them historical context and make for a fascinating read and a stimulating conversation.
Marannis' writing is unmistakably influenced by his friend and long-time mentor, the late David Halberstam. Interestingly, though, Marannis contrasts his attitude toward sportswriting and historical/political writing. Halberstam, Maraniss says in his Cover to Cover interview, wrote about sports to relax between his more "serious" books. Marannis on the other hand thinks sports can be every bit as significant as politics, and politics can be as trivial as sports. -Frank Reiss
Catch Frank Reiss's interview with David Maraniss Sunday night at 8:00PM, rebroadcast Thursday night at 11:30p on GPB Radio. You can also listen to Cover To Cover on demand at gpb.org/covertocover.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Jesse Freeman weighs on in his interview with Tony Earley, which airs Sunday night at 8pm on Cover To Cover--
The Blue Star is a sequel you can enjoy without having read its predecessor. However, if you consider yourself a lover of great contemporary fiction, you’ve probably already read Jim the Boy. Book two in this presumed trilogy places Jim in his senior year of high school in the Western North Carolina town of
Tony Earley joins us to talk about Jim and his other wonderful characters that bring to life the Greatest Generation. He talks about the importance of his influences (Wila Cather!) and his own experience as a child in
Friday, September 12, 2008
Thursday, September 4, 2008
This Sunday's Cover To Cover will be a "best of" issue. GPB Southern Lit Cadre Member Jeff Calder talks with University of Georgia Professor Ed Pavlic. Pavlic's new book is entitled Winners Have Yet To Be Announced: A Song For Donny Hathaway.
The book is Pavlic's attempt to see inside the life, music and untimely death of this elemental soul music artist, a man remembered for efforts as diverse as "Where Is The Love" with Roberta Flack or the theme to Norman Lear's 1970's sitcom "Maude." But Hathaway was highly influential in his own way, known as "your favorite soul singer's favorite singer." Pavlic tries to inhabit Hathaway, who left little in the way of legitimate biography or history after his jump from the 10th floor window of his room at the Essex House in New York City in 1979.
Writer and musician Jeff Calder and Pavlic talk about Hathaway, and Pavlic's approach to poetry. Listen in and you will also hear portions of Hathaway's songs "Give It Up" and "The Ghetto." We hope you enjoy this week's show. All comments, bouquets and brickbats to firstname.lastname@example.org.