Kenny Mayne has written a book, and he has the website to prove it. An Incomplete & Inaccurate History of Sport (on sale April 22nd) is written in the same sardonic fashion that propelled Mayne to fame on SportsCenter, and will likely appeal to the Venn diagram of fans who enjoy both Mayne on TV and reading.
In what is either a savvy marketing move or an act of desperation, Mayne has lowered himself to be interviewed by the blogging proletariat, which explains why I got the opportunity to speak to him over the phone last Wednesday. In part one of the interview, I asked Mayne about the book, partly because I'd been intrigued by what I'd read so far, but mostly because that's the whole point of him granting interviews in the first place. Hey, I know how to play ball.
The interview has been edited slightly for clarity and brevity. After the jump, read us talking.
Kenny Mayne: So, did the publisher send you a copy?
With Leather: I have a copy here in my hands. I've actually read the first 26 or 27 pages of it.
KM: That's good. It goes downhill at page 28 or 29.
WL: Okay, I won't get my hopes up. Before we begin, I should be clear that I don't aspire to be a journalist, and the only thing that's ever resembled an interview on With Leather was when I went to a reading by [former NBA center] John Amaechi, and afterwards we went to a gay bar, so that's the level that we're working at.
KM: [laughs] Perfect.
WL: So, can you just go ahead and give me the standard summation of the book that you're prepared to give ad nauseam as you promote it?
KM: Originally I started out with the intent to make it similar to Jon Stewart's [America: The Book], but it just started turning into something else. I didn't know what I was writing, but I kept writing. Some chapters really are a fake history, and some I just talk about how Starbucks is charging me too much for coffee [Ed: The chapter on Aussie Rules football swerves immediately and permanently onto the topic of tipping]. My agent, who I've never met, convinced me to write a book, and I ended up believing him. And I got about halfway into it, and it's like, "You know, it's not terrible. I've seen worse books." And I thought, "I might as well keep going."
WL: I noticed there are several artwork contributions from your daughters. How much money do you think you saved by [foregoing illustrators]?
KM: Probably a lot. [But] the girls were happy with their rate of pay, and if the books sells well I'll give them a bonus. Annie, the younger one, gave two-thirds of hers to children in Sierra Leone; she's very philanthropic. The church that we go to has ties to Sierra Leone, because — you know the story of the Amistad?
WL: Yes. [Ed: My family watched the movie one Christmas. Great pick, Mom. Real cheerful flick.]
KM: And I can't remember if it was before or after their trial, but John Adams was their attorney, and it all worked out for them, and [our church] was sort of a shelter for them. So Annie just forked over $100 on Day 1, which is pretty admirable.
WL: Wow, that really is. I don't have a snappy comeback for that at all.
KM: Yeah, it was really charming. I was like, "You know, you can give five dollars," and she was like, "No, I wanna give the whole thing." She was probably trying to knock down her taxes.
WL: What is the ratio of photographs to pictures drawn by your daughter [in the book]?
KM: Um, pretty close to equal. There's no real rhyme or reason. Ichiro makes an appearance early, and there's no real reason; I just happen to like him. I put in some players — football being my favorite sport — I put in the holy trinity of Favre and Brady and Joe Montana. And there's a couple others that sort of match what I'm talking about [in the book]. There's no rhyme or reason to any of it, it's just so people buy the book without any forethought. People buy other impulse things. I try to relate it to, I think book prices are kinda high for the average guy.
WL: Yeah, especially in Canada, as you mention [in the book].
KM: Indeed. But then you compare it to, nobody loses any sleep going out with friends and throwing $20 bills around. So then you do that one less time, you should be okay.
WL: So if people can give up getting drunk once, they can buy your book?
KM: Indeed. I'm not much of a drinker, but it's funny when you actually break it down what we do and don't waste money on. Same thing when you work for whatever company, and they spend money like drunken sailors on one case, and then cut back on paper clips in another. But, that's off the subject.
WL: I noticed that most of the book's writing is in short, declarative sentences. Would you say that you're inspired by Ernest Hemingway, or is that more attributed to the UNLV education?
KM: [laughs] I think I have deeper thoughts than what I express in the book, but I went for an economy of words — brevity being the key to wit.
WL: It's definitely your voice. All right, do you feel that's enough questions about your book? Have we plugged it sufficiently?
KM: However you wanna spear this. It comes out on April 22nd, try to get that in there.
Check back tomorrow for part two, in which I ask Kenny Mayne a bunch of questions that make me look like a jackass. MORE of a jackass, I mean.