Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Jeff Pearlman is a columnist for and the author of four sports biographies, including the best-selling Boys Will Be Boys: The Glory Days and Party Nights of the Dallas Cowboys Dynasty.

He was also, back in 1999 or 2000, watching BP from the first-base side at Veterans Stadium before an ordinary afternoon game between the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies.

At the time, he was one of the youngest writers at Sports Illustrated; I was a beat writer for National Post. Jeff was the guy I aspired to be. For maybe twenty minutes, I stood with my back to the cage—rookie mistake—and asked him many, many questions about how to become a magazine writer. He was very kind and patient in his answers. They were helpful and inspiring. He wore a red hat. The sky was blue. Jeff doesn’t remember our conversation—I checked—but I remember it very well.

Whenever a young writer asks me about my work and how I do it, I think about how generous Jeff was with me that afternoon at the Vet.

And now here he is again, all these years later, still answering my questions.

My thanks, then and now, to Jeff Pearlman.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Wright Thompson is a friend of mine. We met at the Masters five or six years ago. There was a dinner for golf writers, and I’d never been to anything like that before. I wore shorts and a loud shirt. I got out of my car in the parking lot and saw all these guys in suits. Oh, shit, I thought. I walked in, and there was one other dude in shorts and a loud shirt. I started walking up to him and he started smiling, and I said something like, “You and me, we’re hanging out tonight.” That dude was Wright. And so we did.

Wright lives in Mississippi. He made his bones at newspapers, including the Kansas City Star, and now writes features for Whenever they land, they are centerpieces. He appears annually in Best American Sports Writing. He writes long and often personally, and he lays his heart out there, which is a rare thing these cynical days. For a lot of us, it can feel like too much of a risk.

But I love Wright because he takes risks. He takes chances. He’s wide open. The other day, I sent him these five questions about writing. (He’d emailed to say how much he thought of Gene Weingarten’s responses, and I saw my opening.) Hours later, Wright sent back 2,500 honest, beautiful, purposeful words. One more time, he’d served up that big bleeding southern cheeseburger heart of his, and I want to thank him for that, sincerely. I’m lucky to call him a friend, and I’m lucky to be able to read him and feel like he’s kicked my ass again. Love and the occasional beating: I’ll always be glad we were both wearing shorts and loud shirts that night in Augusta.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Wright Thompson:

Monday, February 7, 2011


Gene Weingarten is a columnist and humor writer for The Washington Post. He recently pulled the remarkable trick of winning two Pulitzer Prizes for Feature Writing—the only person to win twice in that category—in a three-year stretch. His first winning story, “Pearls Before Breakfast,” explored what would happen if a virtuoso violinist named Joshua Bell masqueraded as a street musician in the D.C. subway. (Virtually everybody except children ignored him.) The second, “Fatal Distraction,” was a heart-wrenching account of parents who accidentally killed their kids by leaving them in hot cars. He has written four books; his latest… well, you’ll see.

I’m thrilled that Gene—this award-winning journalist and kind soul who also sports a terrific mustache—agreed to be the first subject of Son of Bold Venture’s new feature, Five for Writing.

Thank you, Gene, very much. Enjoy, everybody.


A new feature will debut here at Son of Bold Venture later today: Five for Writing.

In it, I’ll email five questions to a great writer about his or her work and how they do it. I hope to include writers of all stripes: novelists, journalists, fabulists, and essayists, moralists and monsters. Some of them will be friends of mine; some of them will be strangers to all of us. I think that doing the interview by email will allow each writer to do what he or she does best. Keeping it to five questions, I hope, will keep things fresh and lively.

Also, having five questions means I can call it Five for Writing, betraying my semi-secret affection for hockey, and its major penalties for fisticuffs especially.