Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Red Smith speaks the truth

En route to rectifying a glaring omission in my reading life -- I have never read W.C. Heinz -- I ordered three titles the other day. One, "The Professional," came today. I flip it over and on the back cover of this 1958 edition is Red Smith's testimonial. The great sportswriter and columnist basically takes three sentences to define great writing:

Heinz's book, about a boxer and his trainer, he said, "taught me again that of all the qualities that make truly fine writing, the one that really counts is truth. Here are the people; this is what they are like, how they think, how they talk, how they behave. It happens that I've been there but I know that readers who never have been there will recognize this as real."

He is, of course, talking about fiction. But think about it: Those words apply just as firmly to nonfiction.