Saturday, March 07, 2015

People - the- magazine

Chad  Love sent a comment that was slighly embarrassed about finding a good review of Helen's H is for Hawk in People. I replied at such length I thought I might put it up here.

Don't worry, Chad. A few thoughts...

1) When Rage for Falcons came out in 84, I got the usual box of free author's copies. The first went to someone I had never met, the late Patricia Ryan-- you can search my obit for her here.

She is probably the reason good sporting literature still exists in the US. In the late sixties, as editor of Sports Illustrated, she published the hunting and fishing journalism of Tom McGuane, Jim Harrison, Russ Chatham, Gatz Hjotsberg, and some others we don't see as much of today. Add the already seasoned Bob Jones, who wrote the stories for the most Time Magazine covers ever but had previously had no outlet for his hunting stories, nature writers like Bil Gilbert, England's Clive Gammon on angling, Dan Gerber on auto racing, and you have the roots of the renaissance of sporting letters that crested in Gray's Sporting Journal and that still sputters on today.

They inspired me, but I had no idea how to approach SI in my early, ever un- credentialed 20's. But when Gray's started up, with offices on Beacon Street in Brookline, I just walked in--a story to be told soon..

People? By the time Rage came out, Pat had been moved over to run the struggling People. Her version was far more intelligent than the present version (maybe her celebrities were slightly less vapid) but it was still People. My friend Eric, who occasionally comments here, had sold some high- end Asian rugs to Pat in Maine, and gave me her address.

I sent her the first copy of Rage, with an inscription saying that it would not have existed without her. She never replied, but in a month or maybe slightly less, a review of a falconry book, with one of Jonathan Wilde's illos and a photo of ME, appeared in People's then rather prominent review section. I suspect Helen and I are the only falconry books ever reviewed there.

2) Around that time, someone from the east was visiting, and began to give me crap about the People on the bedside table. I picked it up to reveal a tattered copy of Montaigne's complete essays under it, dogeared and lined, and said "when you show me this beside your bed, you can give me grief about People."

1 comment:

Chad Love said...

Great story, Steve. If I'm honest, working for People was actually a pretty neat experience. I did my share of celebrity stalking and other such inanity, but I also did some pretty good "real people" stuff, too. And the process itself was very professional, with a rigorous reporting and fact-checking process, etc. I liked to tell people that while the end product may have been superficial, the process of creating that bit of meaningless fluff was top-notch.