Saturday, April 03, 2004

Another Gem by Michael Lewis

How could I have forgotten to mention all week the phenomenal piece by author extraordinaire Michael Lewis, the cover story in last week's New York Times Magazine? Please, before it's behind walls and available online only for a price, do me a favor and print it out and put it aside for whenever you have a moment to sit and read a long, wonderful piece of writing. If you care about athletics, kids or education, or if you simply have an interest in the sources of human motivation and how people are induced to stretch to achieve anything, this piece is for you.

Lewis has been a favorite writer for years, perhaps since he first took on the large subject of billionaire investor Warren Buffet, the "Oracle of Omaha," in a cover piece in The New Republic more than a dozen years ago (not long after the one-time stockbroker wrote a devastating Wall Street roman a clef, Liar's Poker). The New Orleans native has since had something of a rocket ride to fame and prominence with a series of high-profile books, articles and life events (such as his marriage to one-time MTV diva Tabitha Soren). But beneath all the glitter and gossip column fodder is a writer of astonishing brilliance, a guy who can outreport most and then also outwrite them, a combination which tends to yield writing worth reading.

But it all begins with his tremendous curiosity. He has produced a number of wonderful books, most recently a sublime study of the economics of major league baseball and the Oakland A's, Moneyball, simply because he follows his curiosity where it leads, as he notes in this interview. But with this latest piece on his high school baseball coach, I think he has now topped even the New Yorker's Malcolm Gladwell as simply the best nonfiction literary journalist in America. And that's saying something...


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