Below is a guest reading list from Daniel A. Gross, a journalist and public radio producer who lives in Boston.
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Fifty years ago, a champion boxer picked up his son from school, a literary critic was tackled by NFL players, and a famed NASCAR racer tended to his chicken farm. Such was the sidelong view of sports presented by Gay Talese, George Plimpton, and Tom Wolfe. Sports in the 1960s proved a rich arena for writers looking to flex their literary muscle, and Talese and Wolfe tried out unconventional sports writing while still kicking off their careers. You won’t find much reference here to the sweeping political developments that tend to dominate our narratives of 1964. Instead, you’ll get some sense for the texture of the time. Read more…
You know who else loved Shakespeare and Company and who wasn’t a writer with skin in the game? Frank Sinatra—according, that is, to Ed Walters, a former pit boss at the Sands, in Las Vegas, who was taken under Sinatra’s wing in the 1960s and offered this account for a forthcoming history the store plans to publish:
What few Sinatra fans know is that he loved books, especially history books. He was in the casino at a 21 table, playing blackjack and talking with his friends. He told the guys, “I’m giving Eddie some books to educate him. He needs it.”
He asked about a book he’d given me, was I reading it. He said, “Eddie you must travel and when you do, go to Paris, go to the Shakespeare bookstore. I know the guy there… . Go see the guy George—he’s a guy that lives with the books.”