A new memoir is coming from former Sports Illustrated writer Steve Rushin
Steve Rushin has a new memoir, “Nights in White Castle,” scheduled for release this spring. It focuses on the 1980s as high school and college lead to his career at Sports Illustrated. Rushin, and wife, basketball legend and sportscaster Rebecca Lobo, sat down to good-naturedly discuss his book and their lives in Connecticut.
While it seems on the surface as a cute little memoir, kind of A Christmas Story thing, it is clear when reading “Sting-Ray Afternoons” and I assume your new book, “Nights in White Castle,” there is a more personal ulterior motive. What is your intent as you continue the story of you?
Rushin: I think part of the reason for writing the book is seeing my kids at their ages and watching them go through some of the similar things I did. I mean, there are some differences because of the technology today, but I see the book as a way to relive my childhood through their experiences. For instance, we go to Minnesota every summer to my sister’s cabin and at night the kids are in bed counting their bug bites, like rereading the day in braille. I remember doing that as a kid. I could write about my own childhood and also get down what their childhood is like. Above all, as I wrote the books, I figured if nobody was interested in publishing or reading it, I would have this own record of my own family between hard covers.
So take us on your continued sentimental and very funny journey in “Nights in White Castle.”
Rushin: It’s about high school, college, and arriving in New York to work for Sports Illustrated and faking it as a big boy in the city. I write about one of the first nights I was in the city and we were closing an issue late at night and everyone is giving sandwich orders for the deli. I order bologna and American cheese on white bread, you know Wonder Bread, with mayo and everyone in the room is laughing. They are kidding me that they are not even sure they would have a sandwich like that at the deli. But it’s the sandwich I ate as a kid!
Did any of your family mind or comment on your books and what you were writing about the family. I mean as a parent I did raise my eyebrows as I read some of your memories of what was going on around the house and in the car and vacations and memories through a child’s eyes, a view parents don’t usually get to see.
Rushin: Please, if my older brother Jim were writing the book, I wouldn’t even be in it. He was a god to me and my brothers and sister, an athlete, a star who often threatened us with physical violence. We were just sort of peripheral to his life. I have asked my siblings and my dad on their perspective of all these things that I write about growing up in our family. My little sister, who I was oblivious to, still complains how she was treated by her four brothers and how we didn’t pay attention to her. My siblings have said ‘are you going to write about that, are you going to put that in’ on some things. My dad would have preferred I did not write about some things I have written, but he gave me the great gift of saying ‘I don’t want to read it until it is out.’ My dad still lives in the Twin Cities and Florida. I do ask him to read the books before they come out, though, to make sure there are no mistakes.
Do you foresee see a series of “decades” books in your future as the children, as you and Rebecca grow older and your life continues to change? And that begs the question, how will you address your relationship and those oh so unpredictable ins and outs of dating, marriage and parenthood?
Rushin: I don’t know if I would do another about the 90s although there is probably a great memoir to be written about the golden age of magazines like Sports Illustrated when ads were full and they were still occupying space in Rockefeller Center. I feel like so much of what I experienced in the 90s and the 2000s I wrote about for Sports Illustrated.
Lobo: We do a podcast together now. I don’t know. We never really talked about doing a book together. We talk about things that people relate to. Every person has horrible experiences. Steve knows how to explain how things can be funny.
Rushin: I can provide the material if she will write it. Would we have dueling keyboards, Rebecca?
Lobo: No. That would involve him leaning over and “saying that word doesn’t mean that.” He doesn’t do that as often as he used to. There were times we would be in the middle of a disagreement and instead of focusing on the disagreement he would parse the words I was using. And I’d be “Really? This is what you took from my heartfelt discussion?”
Rushin: I have had enough of me, as she has and most other people have. The second book was harder because the college is less universal than things like the awkwardness of swimming lessons or the anticipation of Christmas. If I had a book editor, maybe something on parenting. Although neither of us would want to come off that we have all the answers.
Rebecca, have you learned anything about Steve you didn’t know through his books?
Lobo: Some of the things I had not heard before. When I read Sting-Ray, and read about some of his fears and I was like, ‘aww, this poor guy.’ The stories involving his siblings were just fun and I have heard them before.
Rushin: I was the middle of five kids. I did have a happy childhood. There is a quote by a Russian author that “every happy child is alike.” I think a degree of that is true. I think there are touchstones like TV shows and the Sears Catalog and Sting-Ray bicycles that we all share. I can watch an old episode of “Starsky & Hutch” now and feel like was back home in seventh grade.
What is something most people don’t know about you two?
Rushin: They know everything they need to know about me.
Rushin: I think everyone already feels like they know her.
MaryEllen Fillo is a freelance writer based in Connecticut.