JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

2:08 am

It’s 2:11 am. Three minutes ago, at 2:08 am, I hit the SEND button on my Mac, thereby shipping off the completed manuscript of my fifth book to my editor.

Whew.

I probably can’t explain how exhausting this one has been, but I’ll try: Ex-hau-st-in-g. For nearly two years all I’ve thought about is this book; about chasing down the ghost of a man not alive to speak for himself, and trying to piece together his life, year by year, month by month, occasionally day by day and minute by minute. I have traveled to two spots repeatedly, and I either wound up staying with my wife’s wonderful cousin in her swet apartment or in some of the grossest $40 motels known to humanity. I’ve had countless people tell me what to write and what not to write. I’ve been yelled at, ignored, ignored again and ignored again. I’ve had people cry and, of course, laugh. I’ve spent waaaaaaay too many hours transcribing tape (a source of pride: I have yet to hire someone to do this task) and waaaaaaaay too many hours procrastinating in front of Facebook and YouTube and Twitter and Juggs. On our recent family vacation to Florida, I was around for, oh, 20 percent of activities. Otherwise, I could be found in Palm Beach Gardens’ finest Panera and Starbucks.

My co-workers—and, quite frankly, the keys to my mental stability—have been the various employees. Yvonne, the Starbucks manager. The dude with the cool white shades who slides me free drinks. The Cosi cashier who just left on maternity leave. Anthony, the lanky Panera manager who laughs at my not funny jokes. Belinda, the Panera waitress with a magical smile. The waitress at Howley’s with the tattoo of her grandpa. The Mirage Diner manager who nods as I enter and go straight to my midnight table.

Most important (by far), is that I’m married to a genuinely amazing woman who knows what it is to write and write and write. Seriously, one can’t do this sort of dive-all-the-way-to-the-bottom endeavor without having a remarkable co-pilot. I’ve got the best.

This book isn’t done. Getting edited is rough. Going through legal—rough. Photos, cover, etc—rough. But I see a light. It’s flickering and dim.

But it’s a light, nonetheless.