People who have a father on their gift list might consider checking out the Frank Deford shelf at the nearest bookstore or on Amazon. As is obvious from the article that begins on page 26, Deford’s 2012 memoir — his 18th book — is a trove of stories. Almost all are sports-related but many are about much more than sports.
For example, as the New York Times noted in its review of “Over Time,” Deford “is pitiless about the fraudulence of college football, and he writes perceptively about sports and social class. After remarking that underprivileged boys once gravitated to boxing, he notes: ‘Now, in the United States, boxing struggles to get good athletes because the big, desperately poor people are recruited for football, so they can get their concussions that way.’”
Deford’s most recent work is “I’d Know That Voice Anywhere: My Favorite NPR Commentaries,” published by the Atlantic Monthly Press and now available on Amazon. His other books include 10 novels, including “Bliss, Remembered,” a story of intrigue at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where an American swimmer falls in love with a Nazi diplomat’s son.
Two of Deford’s books have been made into movies. He also wrote the original screenplay for the comedy “Trading Hearts” and “Four Minutes,” the story of Roger Bannister’s quest to run the first four-minute mile.
Just when you begin to think of Father’s Day as the occasion for another silly card and redundant necktie, Deford — the sportswriter — reminds you that fathers’ days are not always light and frivolous. “Alex: The Life of A Child” is his memoir about his young daughter who died of cystic fibrosis (which was made into a movie for ABC television).
To people who think that writing the book must have been difficult for him, he replies, “no, it was very easy.” As he writes in his memoir, “if ever I learned anything about writing when writing about my daughter, it is that the subject, above all, determines the degree of difficulty. And I loved my subject.”