Book Nerd Interview
Newspapers were part of his life long before Larry LaRue started working for them at age 18. His grandmother was a typesetter for a weekly in San Dimas, California, and he sat in her lap while she’d run an old lead-type machine. He was first published at 10, when a San Clemente newspaper ran his story on Pookie, his dog.
He’s been writing ever since. Five newspapers, a business journal and an entertainment magazine wrapped around brief careers as a window washer, bouncer, and private investigator. Always, he wrote.
There was a book on an American Capuchin priest who performed exorcisms in New York and Iowa, another on political cartoonists, a novel based on a news story he followed, and a book of major league baseball anecdotes. All wound up in a drawer or a closet.
Since 1976, there’s been another constant in his life – George Cunningham. As co-workers, backpackers, entrepreneurs, political opposites, writers, photographers and friends they have pursued projects and dreams together.
Reader Publishing Group may be the best yet for George and Carmela Cunningham, and LaRue was one of the first to leap on their backs.
Currently a writer with the Tacoma News Tribune covering the Seattle Mariners, LaRue’s sports writing can be found at http://www.thenewstribune.com/sports/mariners/ and you can follow him and see his photography on Facebook at facebook.com/kwlarue, Twitter at (@LarryLaRue and the News Tribune Mariners’ blog at http://blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners/.
His most recent ambition hasn’t changed in 35 years – LaRue is writing projects he hopes Cunningham can use to get him out of the newspaper business.
On a third-grade field trip, I visited a newspaper in San Clemente, California and was asked if I’d like to write a story. I wrote about my Labrador - Pookie - and the piece was published a few days later. I was hooked, and have been writing and telling stories since.
Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
I once read an explanation I liked: That we tell stories to share with others the fact that we have lived, that they may know what we have learned. In most cases, it’s far simpler. We tell stories to entertain ourselves and others, to share insights into the world and the people who make it.
Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
I’m a huge fan of Larry McMurtry, and Lonesome Dove may be one of my favorite books. There are characters you care about, lives you want to see lived. In a genre I rarely read - Westerns - it was a superb book.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
Overall, probably Elmore Leonard’s Top 10 Tips on Writing. Personally, from an editor at the Omaha World Herald, Bud Pagel, who told me to write as if someone had to read each sentence aloud - and that listening to that voice would bring a rhythm to my work.
In your new book; Major League Encounters, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it and why they should read your novel?
It’s a work of non-fiction, 100 human stories about the men who play and work in Major League Baseball. It began as a work for my daughter, who is not a sports fan - telling personal stories about lives that affected me while covering the game for more than 30 years. My favorite review from a reader was that they were wonderful stories about men who just happened to play baseball.
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
What do you think about journalism today?
What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?
I worked at Emerson-Olson mortuary in Lancaster, California after my junior year in high school. I became used to seeing the dead and showing compassion to the living, listening to them grieve.
Who was your first girlfriend?
Renata Fisher, whose mother hated me so much she threatened to send her daughter to live with relatives in Germany.
Tell me about your first kiss
I kissed a girl with a cold at a record party in her parents basement when I was 12. It was a wet kiss because her nose was running, and for a year I was under the mistaken impression that was what was called a ‘French kiss.’
When was the last time you cried?
This month, thinking about my daughter and the 3 ½ month old grandson I have not yet seen.
Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before?
I’d choose true love, having suffered more than my fair share of heart break. I’m a sucker for love.
It’s an exclusive club. Thirty teams, 25 players each, 750 players in all. For every new player that wins a place on the roster, another player is removed. A few talented players have careers that cover more than two decades. Most last less than three years. But for those who can retain a place on the roster, the money is good – minimum wage is almost $450,000 a year. And if they’re really superstars, they can end up with an annual eight-figure salary. But there is more to it than money.
The men of baseball love the game and they love the clubhouse. The game sometimes costs them their wives and time with their kids. The clubhouse is where they bond as a team and as a family. As with all families, it is a place of laughter and anger, tragedy and loss, happiness and dysfunction. And what unites that family is love. The love of a game called baseball.
This collection of encounters with some of these men by sportswriter Larry LaRue takes the readers inside the clubhouse and behind the scenes to share with the reader what these men have accomplished and the price they have paid.