Some of you who follow this blog might remember a month back, when I wrote about an Illinois-based columnist named Chuck Wenk. Without reading my book, Chuck wrote a column ripping the product. Here are the opening two graphs, from an Oct. 24 column titled, “Payton’s memory lives on”:
I think the hatchet job on Walter Payton, put together by a sportswriter who never met him face to face, was uncalled for. Maybe some of the drivel Jeff Pearlman, referred to as a “sportswriter,” pasted together were facts, and he added a whole lot of junk that, believe me, is probably less than half true. Every sportswriter I know swears they have never heard of him and if they did, they would punch him out for what he did.*
What did he do? He put together some “facts” that, of course, Payton is unable to contest at this point. I read various comments on Pearlman by a few “writers,” though, and throughout the comments supposedly proving Payton’s failures, he didn’t sell me as walking around with tormenting “secrets” that he seemed to be keeping to himself.
Upon reading Chuck’s words, I called him. At home. Not to yell or bark or gripe, but to beg. “Mr. Wenk,” I said, “if I send you a copy, will you read it with an open mind?” He said he would—so off went a copy.
Well, today Chuck wrote a follow-up. This one, titled, “A Second Look at Payton Book,” just sorta confused me. He begins by acknowledging that it’s not a bad piece of work, and sorta slams Mike Ditka for threatening to spit on me. But then the wheels fall off, and Chuck writes, “The book is well-written but definitely not necessary to complete one’s library … let me say that. This one won’t make the best-seller list.” Of course, it’s been on the New York Times’ list for four weeks. Which isn’t, literally, the point.
The point is that, when someone writes something like, “he never interviewed Payton” or “won’t make the best-seller’s list,” he might want to do a quick Google thing.
* I’m not saying I’m Bill Simmons, but either the only sports writers Chuck Wenk knows are dead, or they haven’t picked up an article in 20 years. Again—am I the most famous scribe around? No. But have a fair number of writers heard of me? I’d guess yes.