One of America’s most acclaimed writers and journalists, Gay Talese has been fascinated by sports throughout his life. At age fifteen he became a sports reporter for his Ocean City High School newspaper; four years later, as sports editor of the University of Alabama’s Crimson-White, he began to employ devices more common in fiction, such as establishing a “scene” with minute details–a technique that would later make him famous.
Later, as a sports reporter for the New York Times, Talese was drawn to individuals at poignant and vulnerable moments rather than to the spectacle of sports. Boxing held special appeal, and his Esquire pieces on Joe Louis and Floyd Patterson in decline won praise, as would his later essay “Ali in Havana,” chronicling Muhammad Ali’s visit to Fidel Castro. His profile of Joe DiMaggio, “The Silent Season of a Hero,” perfectly captured the great player in his remote retirement, and displayed Talese’s journalistic brilliance, for it grew out of his on-the-ground observation of the Yankee Clipper rather than from any interview. More recently, Talese traveled to China to track down and chronicle the female soccer player who missed a penalty kick that would have won China the World Cup.
Chronicling Talese’s writing over more than six decades, from high school and college columns to his signature adult journalism– and including several never-before-published pieces (such as one on sports anthropology), a new introduction by the author, and notes on the background of each piece–The Silent Season of a Hero is a unique and indispensable collection for sports fans and those who enjoy the heights of journalism.