Roy Blount Jr.’s twenty-first book, Alphabet Juice, was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in October of 2008. His biography of Robert E. Lee has recently come out in paperback. Feet on the Street: Rambles Around New Orleans, which according to The New York Times “delivers the goods: a wild, unpredictable ramble through a wild, unpredictable town.” He is a panelist on NPR’s Wait Wait ... Don’t Tell Me and a columnist for The Oxford American. He served as president of the Authors Guild from 2006 to 2010, and was elected to the Fellowship of Southern Writers.
His first book, about hanging out with the Pittsburgh Steelers, About Three Bricks Shy ... And the Load Filled Up, now available from the University of Pittsburgh Press, was named one of the ten best sports books ever by Jonathan Yardley of The Washington Post—and just recently called, by Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker, “the best of all books about pro football.” The late Norman Mailer said of his second book, Crackers, “Page for page, Roy Blount is as funny as anyone I’ve read in a long time,” and Time placed Blount “in the tradition of the great curmudgeons like H.L. Mencken and W.C. Fields.” Garrison Keillor said in The Paris Review, “Blount is the best. He can be literate, uncouth and soulful all in one sentence.” Playboy said he was “known to the critics as our next Mark Twain.” Whether, on the one hand, it is his place to quote these plaudits and whether, on the other hand, he feels that they are adequate, are questions not for him to answer at this time. He has been named a Literary Lion by the New York Public Library and a Literary Light by the Boston one, and he is a usage consultant to The American Heritage Dictionary.
His one-man show at the American Place Theatre was described by The New Yorker as “the most humorous and engaging fifty minutes in town”—which, when you stop to think how many fifty minutes there are in New York at any given time, is something. In l988 he expanded that show into Roy Blount’s Happy Hour and a Half. He has performed for Folk Tree Concerts and at Chet Atkins’ Celebrity Golf Tournament, and introduced Chet in Carnegie Hall.
He has appeared on A Prarie Home Companion frequently and on The CBS Morning Show, Tonight Show, David Letterman Show, Good Morning America, Today, Larry King Live, Politically Incorrect, and in a series of TV spots for the NBA starring Bill Murray, which he helped Murray create.
A contributing editor of The Atlantic Monthly, he writes a regular column (“Gone Off Up North”) for The Oxford American, and has done so in the past for Esquire, The New York Times, Atlanta Magazine, Inside Sports, The Soho News, Men’s Journal, Conde Nast Traveler, The San Francisco Examiner, Spy, and The Atlanta Journal. His essays, articles, stories, verses and even drawings have appeared in 166 different periodicals including The New Yorker, Gourmet, Playboy, Vanity Fair, GQ, Life, TV Guide, Vogue, Rolling Stone, National Geographic, Antaeus, Smithsonian, and Organic Gardening; and in 174 books, including The Best of Modern Humor, The Oxford Book of American Light Verse, The Norton Book of Light Verse, The Ultimate Baseball Book, Classic Southern Humor, Sudden Fiction, The Elvis Reader, Russell Baker’s Book of American Humor, Baseball: A Literary Anthology, The Sophisticated Cat, The F-Word, and Best American Essays l997. This work has taken him to China, Uganda, Iceland and all but two states. He has written introductions to books by Erskine Caldwell, A.J.Liebling, Ernie Bushmiller Jr.and Phil Rizzuto, and to four different books by Mark Twain--in particular extensive foreword and afterword accompanying first book-form publication of Twain’s story A Murder, a Mystery and a Marriage (2001).
For Sports Illustrated, where he was a staff writer and editor from l968 to 1975, he has rafted the Amazon (attacked by piranha), played baseball with the 1969 Chicago Cubs (hit a ball 350 feet), become all but athletically a virtual member of the dynasty-years Pittsburgh Steelers, and hung out with Wilt Chamberlain, Yogi Berra, Reggie Jackson, and the world’s oldest then-living lifeguard. (Though not all at once.)
He has written the screenplay of Larger Than Life starring Bill Murray, the lyrics of a song Andie MacDowell sings in Michael, and an HBO fairy tale, The Frog Princess. Of his two one-act plays produced at the Actors Theatre of Louisville, one became part of an Off-Broadway review. In films he has portrayed a reporter, an outraged grocery shopper and a partygoer dressed as Truman Capote; on TV, a dim-witted talk-show caller and a Cuban soldier; on radio, the Prodigal Son, Orpheus, a ship’s captain named Blauggh, a foolish virgin, Millard Fillmore and Thoreau. He has read or lectured at colleges from Harvard to Clemson to Washington state; at the 92nd Street Y, Symphony Space, Manhattan Theatre Club, Theatre for a New Audience, San Francisco’s City Arts and Lecture Series, the San Diego Forum and the Mark Twain House. Journeyed down the Mississippi River for the documentary The Main Stream, aired by PBS in December ‘02.
He covered the l992 Democratic and Republican conventions and Presidential election night by commenting, live and instantaneously, from a Barcalounger, on Comedy Central. Via various media he has reported on the Civil Rights Movement, the Ku Klux Klan, Saturday Night Live in its prime, Elvis’s funeral, an Olympics and several World Series and Super Bowls, and interviewed Martin Luther King, Willie Nelson, Ray Charles, Satchell Paige, Joe Dimaggio, Willie Mays, Loretta Lynn, Eudora Welty, Billy Carter, Gilda Radner, Casey Stengel, Jonathan Demme, Rep. Dick Armey, Cool Papa Bell and Sally Rand. He has publicly expressed his misgivings about every president since John F. Kennedy, with the exception, for some reason, of Gerald Ford.
He has jumped out of a plane, graduated (conditionally) from race-car driving school, scuba-dived with sharks, sung on stage (as a member of the authors’ rock band Rock Bottom Remainders) with Bruce Springsteen and Stephen King, hit a game-winning Texas Leaguer (and had limes thrown at him) in Venezuela, caught catfish with his bare hands in Illinois; and ridden a camel in Kenya, a dolphin in the Florida Keys, an elephant in Los Angeles.
The New Yorker. “I just felt more at home in the pages of The New Yorker than I did, frankly, in church.”
International Creative Management, New York
University of Georgia Press
University of Pittsburgh Press
W.W. Norton & Company
I am currently President of The Authors Guild.
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