I just had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of the new book by Michael Lewis, the author of, among other things, MoneyBall and Liar's Poker. It's called the The Blind Side. It is simply sensational. It will be in bookstores October 2nd.
It's about a teenager from the poorest neighborhood in Memphis who gets adopted by a wealthy white family, and who also happens to be an extraordinarily gifted offensive lineman. Simultaneously Lewis tells the story of the emergence of the left tackle as one of the most important positions in modern day football. I thought MoneyBall was fantastic. But this is even better, and it made me wonder if we aren't enjoying a golden age of sportswriting right now.
First, there's Bill Simmons over at espn.com. Then there's David Foster Wallace. He wrote a piece for the New York Times magazine on Roger Federer a few weeks back, which was almost as good as the piece he wrote on the tennis player Michael Joyce a few years back--and which reminded me of how wonderful his voice is when he turns to sports. Then there's Lewis.
The three of them, of course, could be more different. Simmons is the ur-fan. Wallace is the intellectual. And Lewis? I'm not sure how to describe him, which is part of the genius of his books. It's not even clear to me that his books are about sports in the end, even though he takes sports as his subject. MoneyBall was really about discrimination. (I once tried to convince a university psychology professor that she should make MoneyBall recommended reading in her intro psych class.) And The Blind Side is as insightful and moving a meditation on class inequality in America as I have ever read--althought to put it that way, I realize, makes it sound deadly dull. It isn't. You should read it.