Leigh Montville, in his biography of Manute Bol, wrote in the foreword:
The figure stands on a hill and looks across the African landscape. The sun is round and bright and red behind him. The figure is tall, tall, very tall. He could be a Giacometti sculpture. He could be Gumby.
The figure walks a great distance, past the giraffes and hippos of his native village, straight ahead, from one world to another.
He stands again, in the center of a polished wooden floor inside a large arena. A spotlight focused on his black face. A purple mascot with HOOPS written across his chest comes up to the figure, putting his right hand high. The figure answers, slapping the mascot’s purple fur hand.
This is a fable.
This is the truth.
That was in 1993. Since then, Montville has written five more books, including bios of Dale Earnhardt, Ted Williams and Babe Ruth. He combines an eye for character and plot with a narrative touch that is anecdotal, empathetic, whimsical and ironic – a style that was distinctive in the 1970s, and is even more iconic today, in an age when argument overwhelms storytelling.
Montville’s seventh book is due out in May: “The High-Flying Life of Evel Knievel: American Showman, Daredevil, and Legend.”
The former Boston Globe columnist and Sports Illustrated feature writer took time out from the final two chapters to talk to SMG.