Episode 20—Glenn Stout on his new book “The Selling of the Babe,” Dealing with Dead People, and the Transcendent Nature of Hitting Home Runs

Screen shot 2015-06-18 at 8.32.54 PM“You have to be out in the world and engaged in the world.” —Glenn Stout

“The truth always tells a better story.”—Glenn Stout

By Brendan O’Meara

First off, I’m like WAY behind in blog posts. I have to draw up one for Mary Pilon and Brian Mockenhaupt, but I’ll start with the latest episode and work backwards.

Enter Glenn Stout. [Hear our first interview…here]

His latest book The Selling of the Babe: The Deal That Changed Baseball and Created a Legend (St. Martin’s Press) comes out this week.

I speak to Glenn about dealing with dead people and how he approached a topic that, on its surface, felt saturated.

“You look at what seem to be time-worn topics and almost without fail you find something and you tell a better story, a newer story, a truer story,” says Glenn.

The first 30-35 minutes of the episode deal with the Babe, but the latter part riffs on random stuff.

Writers and Books Mentioned

Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Antonin Artaud, No More Masterpieces
Rainer Maria Rilke
James Wright
The Poetics of the New American Poetry
Langston Hughes
Michale Graff
Jeremy Collins
Eva Holland

A final call to action!

Please subscribe to the monthly newsletter if you like to have articles, quotes, and podcasts shipped to your email, curated by yours truly. Also subscribe to the podcast and share it with friends. Thanks!

#CNF Episode No. 17—Brin-Jonathan Butler on Bullfighting, How Surprise is His Biggest Weapon, and Access as a Drug

Brin-Jonathan Butler, Brendan O'Meara

Written by Brendan O’Meara

“Surprise is one of the biggest weapons you have as a journalist to affect people emotionally.” — Brin-Jonathan Butler

“The juice for me with journalism is not money or recognition. My ego is tied into access.” — Brin-Jonathan Butler

IMG_4707

Two pics? Whaaaaaaat? His photos rival Eva Holland’s irreverent, dare I say, get-the-fuck-out-of-my-face pic from Episode 15.

Butler is one of the smartest people I’ve ever spoken with. There’s a level of thinking and depth you don’t often hear from someone who’s in their mid-30s. You expect it from, say, George Saunders, but listening to Butler speak was a treasure for me and I hope so for you.

Like Holland, Glenn Stout, and Charles Bethea, Butler never studied journalism, yet he’s one of the best at his craft. I sense a theme that some of the best at this craft aren’t journalists by trade, but people who have a keen sense for language, are widely read, and think long and hard about the work. They aim for impact, not a sound bite.

You should also listen to him on the Longform Podcast from back in 2014. Pairing that interview with mine will give you tremendous insight into Butler’s mind.

Here’s a bunch of links to Butler’s work:

Buffalo and Wide Right, Broken Hearts and No Illusions
Myths Made Flesh: Last Breaths in a Spanish Bullring
The Poison Oasis
The Kindle Singles Interview with Mike Tyson
Errol Morris: The Kindle Singles Interview
The Domino Diaries

Please subscribe to my email list. You get access to these exclusive interviews and other cool stuff ONLY when I publish something and ONLY once a week. Small cost for big info.

 

Episode No. 16: Charles Bethea on Late-Night Pitching, the Anxiety of Reporting, and the Magnitude of Breakfast

Charles Bethea
Charles Bethea, world traveler, great writer.

Written by Brendan O’Meara

“I was a poetry major in college which was of course of great concern to my parents.” —Charles Bethea

Here we are with the first episode of 2016, No. 16, sweet sixteen, Charles Bethea. This was a fun episode as we talk about Charle’s start in freelancing, his love of breakfast, and one of his favorite quotes of all time.

Like Eva Holland, Charles’ writing takes you places. He’s funny and his writing has a smooth feel to it. Suddenly you’re done with the piece and it felt like nothing, like gravity did all the work for you.

Aside from having his work published in The New Yorker (where he has a regular sports column on its website), the now-defunct Grantland, and Outside Magazine, he was also a producer on the short documentary Fair Chase, about persistence hunting. If you read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, you know that this is a theory about man’s early hunting by wearing down and overheating four-legged prey.

Anyway, point being Charles is a busy man with serious chops.

Here’s the link to the episode since folks with mobile devices still can’t stream it from the blog post (Podomatic is NOT on its game with this bout of customer service). Here’s the embed anyway.

Also here are links to a sampling of Charles’ work. You can find more at his website charlesbethea.com.

Selected Work

Fair Chase from Outside
Obama’s In-Box from The New Yorker
The Many Lives of Aubrey Lee Price from Atlanta Magazine
Star-Maker from The New Yorker
Will Shortz and the Ping-Pong Prodigy from The New Yorker

Books Mentioned

All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Proud Highway by Hunter S. Thompson
No Man Knows My History by Fawn Brodie
Snowblind: A Brief Career in the Cocaine Trade by Robert Sabbag
Up in the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell

Episode No. 15: Eva Holland on the Nature of her Hustle, Being Super Analog, and liking Faramir

Eva Holland

Written by Brendan O’Meara

“It’s been a long process at feeling at all stable.” —Eva Holland

“I don’t know how you keep going if you don’t think your work is good. you have to believe that you’re good.” —Eva Holland

Here were, yet again, with another episode of #CNF, this time with Eva Holland. Eva is a rising star and if you have a chance to buy stock in Holland, now’s the time.

Why read more of my guff when you can read hers? Here’s a list of some her work:

Unclimbable
Hellbent, But Not Broken
Why We Play
No Sleep Till Fairbanks

There’s a good primer.

Writers mentioned

Matt Power
Ian Frazier
David Grann

Books Mentioned

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
The Devil and Sherlock Holmes by David Grann
The Lost City of Z by David Grann
Gone to New York by Ian Frazier
The Big Year by Mark Obmascik
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Thanks for listening. If you get a chance, please subscribe to the podcast and subscribe to my website. No spam, just good, good stuff.

#CNF: Take Us to the Bridge!

Transcribe Face.

A photo posted by Brendan O’Meara (@brendanomeara) on

Written by Brendan O’Meara

Soooo…Here’s the latest quasi-episode of the #CNF Podcast. Drop the embed…

Okay, now that I’ve done that, be sure stay tuned, subscribe to the podcast, subscribe to the email newsletter so you can see super awesome Transcribe Face (see above) pics.

Listen to the little mini-sode, stay tuned for more, but also, go listen to Glenn Stout, Carrie Hagen, Maggie Messitt, and many, many (sort of) more.

As always…you da bomb. As always Part II, thanks for listening

 

Podcap—How Gimlet Media’s ‘Surprisingly Awesome’ Teaches You To Pitch Stories

Written by Brendan O’Meara

For my first podcap—a recap of podcasts I’m listening to—I’m taking a look at the latest from Gimlet Media.

Gimlet Media released a new podcast, Surprisingly Awesome, featuring Adam McKay and Adam Davidson. Google their names if you want vital bio information.

This podcast tries to take something seemingly boring things like mold (Episode 1), free throws (Episode 2) and concrete (Episode 3) and illustrate how, you guessed it, awesome they are.

So far, all three have been, you guessed it again, surprisingly awesome, but there’s something more, something deeper this show represents that’s important to all storytellers and freelancers. It’s this: So what? or Why do I care about ­­­­ ______?

The podcast is, in essence, an elaborate story pitch of why something apparently mundane is, in fact, interesting, and worthy of our time and worthy of a publisher’s dollars.

In all three instances one of the hosts is bored while the other is excited. Like a defense attorney pleading his case for his client, he tries to sway a biased jury. No change of venue. The other host is the permanent venue so get over it.

Also at the core is this central statement, one created by Gimlet co-founder Alex Blumberg: I’m doing a story about X, and it’s interesting because of Y. You can take AB’s Creative Live course and learn all about this.

For the latest episode on concrete, AD could say, “I’m doing a story about concrete, and it’s interesting because natural disasters, like the Haitian earthquake, aren’t really natural disasters, they are concrete disasters.”

The story suddenly gets green lit because that is interesting. You feel it in your bones. Cheap concrete shatters and in poor, developing countries. The cheap concrete breaks like brittle when the earth rumbles.

This podcast, aside from being entertaining, is a master class in getting writers to probe deep into a mundane topic and find what is ultimately sellable about the story.

I host #CNF and would love for you to listen and subscribe. Also, throw down your email so you can updates from this website when I post something. No posts, no emails, no spam, ever.

Catch Up on These Three Latest Episodes

By Brendan O’Meara

There won’t be a new episode this week since my guest, author Carrie Hagen, couldn’t speak last week. No prob. She’s the author of We Is Got Him. If you like Erik Larson you’ll love Carrie’s book. We’ll get into that later.

This gives you plenty of time to catch up on what you may have missed.

Here’s Maggie Messitt, author The Rainy Season.

Here’s John Scheinman, winner of the 2015 Eclipse Award for Feature Writing

Here’s Joe DePaulo, a 2014 Best American Sports Writing notable selection.

I need to buy more storage through my podcast host Podomatic and I’m having a hard time pulling the trigger on that. Money is tight, but I think the interviews are fun and educational. It goes to show you how deep the talent pool is out there. As I said in the intro to the Joe DePaulo interview, this is my excuse to talk shop with people I admire and promote their work in some small way.

Anyway, enjoy those interviews, subscribe on iTunes and please sign up for the weekly email newsletter that feeds your inbox with the latest podcasts and other tasty morsels. No spam, just useful stuff. You can always unsubscribe. No hard feelings.

Thanks for reading and listening. We’ll talk later.

Episode 10—Joe DePaulo on Talese, Kramer, and What It Means to be Edited

Written by Brendan O’Meara

“There’s no downplaying that moment for me. There’s no humble bragging that. It’s a straight-up brag, a measure of pride for me.”—Joe DePaulo

“I can’t abandon it. For me, I don’t know what else I’d do.” —Joe DePaulo

Maybe my favorite part of my conversation with Joe happens toward the end where we briefly touch upon drafting one particular writer in a Fantasy League for Narrative Nonfiction. I should’ve expanded on this, but I figure it’s going to be a much longer segment in the future.

This was a fun one. We talked about writers who inspired Joe and the harsh financial realties of the freelance game. (You can hear Episode 9 guest John Scheinman shed insights into this as well.)

I’ve shortened by Bookshelf for the Apocalypse segment to five books. Good stuff here.

Joe’s BftA

The Complete Works of Shakespeare
Character Studies by Mark Singer
Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
The Best American Sports Writing of the Century
Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life by Richard Ben Cramer
Billy Bathgate by E.L. Doctorow

Ricky Jay’s Magical Secrets by Mark Singer is a New Yorker profile Joe re-reads over and over again.
The Man Who Knew Too Much by Marie Brenner

Here’s Joe’s SB Nation Longform archive, which includes his profile on Mike Francesa, a story that earned Joe a notable selection in the 2014 volume of Best American Sports Writing.

So let’s get to it. Enjoy!

Hey, if you get a chance subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and throw down your email here at the website. I know that’s asking a lot, but it would mean a lot to me.

 

Good times for readers and writers

[subscribe2]

Put up your ducks, I mean dukes.
Put up your ducks, I mean dukes.

Written by Brendan O’Meara

I’m not prone to fun. I don’t like crowds. I have broad shoulders so I tend to bump into people. I’m not very social. I like to watch movies on my somewhat undersized TV and read books. My wife doesn’t like me^1^. If there’s wet blankets, I’m like the smallpox-infected blankets Jeffery Amherst gave to Native Americans.

But I have fun when I listen to Book Fight: Tough Love for Literature. It’s a podcast for writer’s, though serious readers would dig it too. It’s a podcast about books, but a podcast recorded as if it were cool to talk about books at your favorite bar. It’s profane^2^, curmudgeonly, and just good company.

Tom McCallister, co-host of Book Fight and author of Bury Me in My Jersey: A Memoir of My Father, Football, and Philly, is a friend of sorts, though we’ve never met. 51flccWHfVL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_We “met” through email when I gave his memoir a 2-star review on Goodreads. He wrote to me about it and I gave him my reasons. He does a great thing in his memoir that has to be applauded: he writes an unflattering picture of himself, which is a lesson unto itself in memoir. I gave it 2 stars because I wanted more of his father in the story and I don’t like footnotes^3^. He’s a great writer, an unpretentious product of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, which says something in and of itself. All in all, if you’re writing memoir, you should read his. His book has 45 ratings on Goodreads, which is a ton (I have 12) and most are 5 stars. Overall it’s a 3.84 stars out of 45 reviews. That gives you an idea that it’s a great book.

Since that first email a few years ago, we’ve kept in touch about sports and writing. Then he started the Book Fight podcast with Mike Ingram, fiction editor at Barrelhouse. It’s a fun listen. I’m listening right now.  Naturally, if you’re a geek for the mechanics of prose, subscribe to it on iTunes.

Footnotes

1. Not entirely true. She likes the occasional social interaction where I’d rather stay home and read.
2. Not overly so, tastefully profane, like talking sports at a bar. But not a Philly, New York, or Boston bar. Maybe like a Seattle bar, or an Asheville, NC bar.
3. I have since come around to footnotes. I found them so disruptive to the narrative that I usually can’t continue reading. It’s like reading with the TV on or something. They make for funny tributaries that don’t belong in the main river.

The offer still stands, for a time, that should you subscribe to this website, I’ll send you a personalized copy of Six Weeks in Saratoga. Subscribe, I’ll reach out to you. My thanks to you. If you factor in shipping, that’s a $30-value, if you’re into value plays.

[subscribe2]