For years, many of Sports Illustrated's 21 million readers turned first to the magazine's last page, because that's where they find SI's most popular feature: the Life of Reilly column, written by best-selling author Rick Reilly.
A 22-year veteran of Sports Illustrated and a 10-time National Sportswriter of the Year, Reilly took over SI's back page in 1998, and his column immediately attracted a devoted following, including the legions of fans who helped make his first collection, The Life of Reilly, a New York Times best seller in 2000.
Now comes Hate Mail from Cheerleaders, 100 of Reilly's favorites, along with a new foreword and column postscripts by the author. Alternately sidesplitting and heartwarming but always opinionated and provocative, these pieces are the best work by the best columnist in the business.
It takes great skill to do justice to another author's first-person essays, but Lloyd James pulls it off with believability and flair. Reilly's sardonic wit is showcased in this collection of 100 of his most memorable Sports Illustrated columns. James musters up the appropriate righteous indignation when describing, say, the bad-boy tactics of Barry Bonds or the murder accusations leveled against Baltimore Ravens star Ray Lewis, as well as the pathos required for stirring columns on 9/11 heroes and individuals who have overcome tremendous physical obstacles to compete in sports. He also nails Reilly's biting humor. Each essay comes with a postscript, describing readers' response to the column and giving updates on the piece. A table of contents could have helped listeners find especially funny pieces from the master of the pithy back-page essay. Simultaneous release with the Sports Illustrated hardcover (reviewed online).