Saturday, August 06, 2011

Wright Thompson Pieces from Grantland

Some remarkable pieces I've seen recently by Wright Thompson of ESPN and Grantland. Thompson is I guy whose I first heard mention of in this Five for Writing feature with his responses to writing process questions posted by Esquire writer Chris Jones on his Son of a Bold Venture blog.

A few months after that Feb 2011 interview, I came across the lengthy ESPN Outside the Lines story "Deadly Games" on the Macacos slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Pretty remarkable piece whose subtitle tells the story of it's content - "In Rio, where the next Summer Olympics and World Cup will be held, nearby neighborhoods have become war zones."


The writing I've seen lately by Thompson, though, was the trigger to post about and link to him. For the ESPN/Bill Simmons website, Grantland, he's done a series of heartfelt and well written pieces about loss and remembrance.

The last two pieces posted were "On Whiskey and Grease: A Yoknapatawpha Wake" and "On Whiskey and Grease: Drinking the last bottle of Jim Beam". Each is a really good blend (no booze pun intended) of the solid and the sentimental about someones passing and how their lives are celebrated.

Reading these stories then sent me back to looking in the Grantland archives (not that vast since the site is only a few months old) for other Thompson stories... two of which I recall having read and thinking "man, that's good writing." "On Whiskey and Grease: Pappy Van Winkle" (yep, more booze) was about the hard to find Pappy Van Winkle bourbon and then "Four Nights at Elaine's: The Last Will and Testament of a Great Saloon" about the heavily writer-frequented New York bar closing for good.

Really good writing that brought to mind the piece "Last Call at Elaine's, ft. Kevin Van Valkenburg" from the Son of a Bold Venture blog. Similar pieces from these young writers who were part of a group having their last night at Elaine's... and which both had some excellent stuff on being a young writer.