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Powell's Q&A

Dave Zirin

Describe your latest book.
It's called A People's History of Sports in the United States. The goal is to show the hidden history of the way politics have shaped sports in this country. It's filled with stories of athletes who have used their exalted platform to express political resistance. It's an effort to take the political history and sports history of this country and blissfully and recklessly mash them together. It is part of Howard Zinn's People's History series.

  1. A People
    $15.50 Used Hardcover add to wishlist
    "There are many worthy and deserving stories of courage and conscience in this vast canvas..." Publishers Weekly
  2. Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics, and Promise of Sports
    $7.95 Used Trade Paper add to wishlist
    "...a unique and thought-provoking collection of politically enlightened sports writing, suitable for anyone with season tickets and a left-of-center outlook." Publishers Weekly
  3. What
    $9.50 Used Trade Paper add to wishlist
    "It is so refreshing to have a sports writer who writes with such verve and intelligence, who also has a social conscience,and who refuses to keep those parts of his life separate." Howard Zinn
If someone were to write your biography, what would be the title and subtitle?
Grounded: Shooting Hoops without Jumping.

What fictional character would you like to date, and why?
Cadence Roth from Armistead Maupin's Maybe the Moon. She has a vibrancy that makes you want to look into her eyes.

What's the strangest or most interesting job you've ever had?
I worked as a 3rd grade public school teacher in Washington D.C. "Interesting" doesn't even begin to cut it.

Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good book with which to start.
James Baldwin. I feel like he is remembered more for his essays than his fiction. Start with Another Country, perhaps my all-time favorite book. It tears you apart and then rebuilds you.

Writers are better liars than other people: true or false? Why, or not?
Absolutely and positively false. (By which I mean true.)

Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
The fictional J. D. Salinger in W. P. Kinsella's Shoeless Joe has a beautiful monologue about being a writer, the central message effectively being "writers write." I wish I had it at my finger tips.

How do you relax?
I like to hold a glass of very cold water or a mug of very hot tea against the side of my neck.

Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?
Yes. Last year to Powell's. That's no joke. I had heard stories about the store for years, and when I finally saw it for myself, I felt like I could happily get lost in there for several weeks.

Describe the best breakfast of your life.
Poached eggs, on hash browns with sausage gravy. Sounds disgusting, but go to the Satellite Grill to prove me wrong.

What is your idea of absolute happiness?
I've got two little kids who keep a smile plastered on my face, especially when my daughter holds my hand when she falls asleep.

Why do you write?
Because it beats having a massive stroke

Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise.

Five Sports Books That Need to Be on Your Shelf

Sportsworld: An American Dreamland by Robert Lipsyte

Nike is a Goddess: The History of Women in Sports by Lissa Smith

Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete by William C. Rhoden

Out of Their League by Dave Meggyesy

Redemption Song: Muhammad Ali and the Spirit of the Sixties by Mike Marqusee

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David Zirin is the author of three books, including What's My Name, Fool? and Welcome to the Terrordome. He writes the popular weekly online sports column, The Edge of Sports, and is a regular contributor to the Nation, SLAM, and the Los Angeles Times. He lives in Takoma Park, Maryland. spacer

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