Thursday, January 16, 2014

Nicholas Dawidoff

Nicholas Dawidoff is the author of four previous critically acclaimed books, including the bestselling The Catcher Was a Spy and The Crowd Sounds Happy. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a Civitella Ranieri Fellow, a Berlin Prize Fellow of the American Academy, an Anschutz Distinguished Fellow at Princeton University, and a Branford Fellow at Yale University. A Pulitzer Prize finalist (for The Fly Swatter), Dawidoff is a contributor to The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, and Rolling Stone. His new book is Collision Low Crossers: A Year Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football.

From his Q & A with Charles Curtis for Why focus on writing a book about the NFL?

Nicholas Dawidoff: Football brings so much pleasure to so many Americans. It's the most popular American entertainment right now and yet I don't think I can think of anything that is as public and popular as the NFL and yet is mysterious to the people who enjoy it. And I was really interested in how it worked.

The NFL life is all about process. And that process that takes place at facilities, people can't really see it. That's what I was most interested in -- the way in which incredibly committed people spend their long, long year, days and nights and weekends committed to a cause. And that cause is to try and perfect the art of football. I was just in awe.

My first book ["The Catcher Was a Spy," which covered former MLB player Moe Berg] was about someone who worked as a spy in the CIA. In certain ways, [football] reminded me very much of how American intelligence officers work, which is to say they have their own private community, they're completely immersed in one another. There's a lot of risk and a lot of pressure but also a lot of camaraderie and interesting tensions. To me, it was an exciting subculture. Why pick the Jets as your subject?

ND: I just happened to hear Rex Ryan on the radio and then I looked forward to hearing him. I thought he was an incredibly funny person. I just loved to listen to the man talk -- it was because of Rex I wanted to do it. I still think he's...[read on]
Learn more about Collision Low Crossers, and follow Nicholas Dawidoff on Facebook.

Check out Dawidoff's list of the five best baseball novels.

Writers Read: Nicholas Dawidoff (May 2008).

Writers Read: Nicholas Dawidoff (November 2013).

--Marshal Zeringue