What is it, Gay Talese is asking, about sports? It occupies a messy, emotional territory in which we embrace, and, just as easily, discard, heroes. “It’s not just losing the game,” Talese reflects, voice etched with the soft syllables of southern New Jersey, where he was born in 1932. “You lose the game enough, or get knocked out enough, you lose your job.” There’s an empathy in his bearing, a recognition of the challenges facing ballplayers, many of whom, “feel more at home on the grassy fields and hotel lobbies and locker rooms than they do in the suburban houses that most of them will begin to share next week with their wives and children” as he wrote in “On the Road, Going Nowhere, With the Yankees,” a New York Times piece about the end of the 1979 season.
more from David L. Ulin at the LAT here.