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RIP, Paul Hemphill

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Smasher_Sloan, Jul 12, 2009.

  1. Smasher_Sloan

    Smasher_Sloan Active Member

    Author, columnnist, former minor league baseball player. Wrote a bunch for SPORT magazine in the '70s, too.

  2. Steak Snabler

    Steak Snabler Well-Known Member

    Wrote a fantastic bio of Hank Williams Sr. a few years ago:


    RIP to an excellent and versatile writer.
  3. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Sirs, Madames,

    Very sad. I had exchanged emails with him over the past three years. I was poking around a story that was going to take me to Georgia last fall and we planned to meet up. Unfortunately the assignment fell through and we agreed that we'd make it happen down the line. Sigh. As a high schooler I was a huge fan of his work in Sport, Paul Hemphill's America. He was a very lyrical writer and he came off as a prince of a guy. My two favorite works of his were The Ballad of Little River, about some white kids who burned down a black church in a godforesaken backwater, and The Heart of the Game, about the life of a minor-leaguer. All his collections (and there are a few) are worth the time despite the overlap.

  4. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Sirs, Madames,

    The first letter I wrote to PH.

    Sent: Monday, September 19, 2005 5:40 AM
    To: pahemp@msn.com
    Subject: just a note from a fan


    I've been a lifetime fan of your work, going back to my high school days in the 70s when you were writing for Sport (at what I figure had to be its peak). I came across your website when I was trying to come up with the names of two of your books (Heart of the Game, Little River). And my best friend will likely never return his borrowed copy of your NASCAR book--one thing if it's from the library, another thing tho' when it's my library.

    Anyway, you were one (actually with PH's America, right at the top) of the fellahs who were my role models as writers and sportswriters. I did go on in the biz. You can google-search me to assure yourself that I'm not a deluded soul.

    If I ever get Atlanta ways I'd love to meet you.

    Anyway, I always make it a point, when possible, to pay my respects to great writers, especially those who influenced me--or should take the blame for getting me into the business I love.



    Heard back from him in a day. One of the nicer guys I never met.

  5. Dave Kindred

    Dave Kindred Member

    Paul was the real thing. A writer who cared about writing, a reporter who loved newspapers. As a kid in Louisville I'd go downstairs in the Courier-Journal library to find the Atlanta Journal because he wrote a metro column six times a week. He was there with Breslin, Royko, Kempton. In Atlanta, first thing I did was find him. Anyone who was ever with him at Manuel's tavern, there in the window seat, was with a man serenely happy in his life. I persuaded him to write "The Heart of the Game," about a scrawny, scrappy, bush-league second baseman named Marty Malloy, because he had been that kid 40 years before, a kid whose talent was never as big as his dream. The last time we talked -- the cancer was in him -- Paul was proud that his stuff was still iin print. It'll be in a lot of hearts forever.
  6. T&C

    T&C Member

    Hemphill was one of my favourite writers. His collection, Lost in the Lights, sits next to W.C. Heinz on a sports journalism shelf in my office and several of his other non-fiction books (The Ballad of Little River, The Good Old Boys, Leaving Birmingham, Me and the Boy, Too Old To Cry) are right behind me in a bookcase with Jim Harrison, Willie Morris, John McPhee, George Plimpton, Mike Royko and Larry L. King. Fine company. The Nashville Sound is in my music library, but for some unkown reason, I never bothered picking up his Hank Williams Sr. bio. While Long Gone does not rate in my top ten list of baseball novels, his novels, The Sixkiller Chronicles and King of the Road, both are excellent. I've been hunting for a copy of his last novel, Nobody's Hero, in used bookstores without any luck. The search is part of the fun rather than order off the Internet. After reading one of the stories today on his website, I learned why it's so hard to find - sold only 800 copies. If you can find a copy of Me and the Boy about walking the Appalachian Trail with his 19-year-old son, do so as it may be his best work.
  7. beardpuller

    beardpuller Active Member

    Saw something by him in PASTE magazine a while back-- the only magazine piece I'd seen of his in many years -- and it reminded me of why he was an early favorite of mine growing up. Lots of writers who do the "professional southerner" bit are tiresome and fraudulent. He was not.
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