September 26, 2009

Bronx Banter Q&A: Arnold Hano

Bronx Banter has the first part of a lengthy interview with writer Arnold Hano. You might know him as the author of A Day in the Bleachers, his account of Game 1 of the 1954 World Series. This Q&A is well worth your time.
[M]y brother put out a mimeographed newspaper in the Bronx when he was maybe eleven and I was maybe eight, I was his reporter. He and a guy named Lester Bernstein – Lester had the mimeograph machine, I guess. I would run down to the news stands, and I'd copy stuff off and then rewrite it for our Montgomery Avenue News that we put out once a week. I did that for a while, and then I got bored because all I was doing was copying other people's stories. I decided I wanted to write a story of my own, so my brother, who was a great guy, said write one. ... I did about six or seven of these episodic things. I was eight years old writing the equivalent of a novel for a street newspaper that we sold for a nickel a copy door-to-door.
In the early 50s, he was an editor at Lion Books:
We published the only piece of fiction that Leonardo DaVinci ever wrote. It's a novel. It's a novel-ish. Robert Payne, who's a DaVinci aficionado, he brought it in and said, "Can you use this?" I said, sure, we'll do it. It's not good, but it's Leonardo DaVinci! I mean, gee whiz!
On Babe Ruth:
Ruth changed the game. Even though we were there when it happened, usually historically you don't notice when history occurs. We knew history was occurring when he started hitting those home runs ... And then he was bigger than life. He drank too much, and he caroused too much, but we all knew it. Everybody knew it, but it didn't seem to matter. You know, he broke the law every day from 1919 to 1934 by having a drink because that was Prohibition. We talk about what Barry Bonds did was against the law – well, it was, but what Ruth did was against the law. But it was different with him.
Roger Kahn calls A Day in the Bleachers "the best of all the baseball books written from the point of view of the man in the stands". I have not read it, but I love this killer first sentence:
When the evening papers of September 28, 1954, reported that a dozen men and boys were already camping across the street from the bleacher entrance outside the Polo Grounds prior to the first World Series contest, I felt the urge.

No comments: