The Next Chapter·Dog-Eared Reads

Sportswriter Cathal Kelly can't stop rereading his copy of The Sportswriter

Longtime sports journalist Cathal Kelly on why he keeps coming back to the Richard Ford novel he first read in his twenties.
Boy Wonders author Cathal Kelly says he keeps coming back to his copy of The Sportwriter by Richard Ford. (CBC/Penguin Random House)

Sportswriter Cathal Kelly is a longtime fixture at the Globe and Mail and the author of the coming-of-age memoir Boy Wonders. He says an abiding favourite for him is — appropriately — The Sportswriter by Richard Ford. 

"When I first started reading The Sportswriter I would have been in my early twenties, working at a bookstore. The Sportswriter is, of course, about a sportswriter [Frank Bascombe] — though very little of it concerns sports. His life is in decline, he's separated from his wife, he's had a child die and he's reconsidering his place in the world. I went back to it again and again because I had a friend who was obsessed with it and we liked to talk about it, so I had to re-familiarize myself with it every once in a while. And eventually I realized that, in some small way, I had become Frank Bascombe. I was a sportswriter. I had not suffered his personal tragedies, but I had reached that point in my life where I was wondering what things were about. I now read it as a way of charting my own change. Which person am I going to every time I come back to Frank Bascombe and how will I react to him and his problems?" 

Cathal Kelly's comments have been edited and condensed.


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