A month ago Front Row began this series to bring you between the covers of Mike & Mike in the Morning co-host Mike Greenberg’s debut novel, All You Could Ask For.
In this third All About installment, Greenberg discusses his early writing influences and how they led him to writing this novel, which will be released by William Morrow on April 2. (More information, including an excerpt and purchase information, is available here.) We also asked Mike and his wife, Stacy, to share some of their favorite authors and books.
ALSO: Greeny’s Book Tour Announced.
What we’re reading now:
Stacy: “Rules of Civility,” by Amor Towles. Loving it so far, it’s got everything, glamor, romance, intrigue. If you tweet me (@StacyGSG), don’t tell me how it ends!
Greeny: “Mad River,” by John Sandford. The Virgil Flowers thrillers are my absolute favorites. If it’s a guilty pleasure, then I am guilty as charged. I love these books.
Stacy: The best book I’ve read recently was “The Help,” by Kathryn Stockett. Like everyone else, I fell in love with the characters. I also love John Irving and “A Prayer For Owen Meany” is my favorite.
Greeny: Last year I bought a collection of short stories by Jay McInerney called “How It Ended,” which was unbelievable, and inspired me to re-read “Bright Lights, Big City,” which probably captures the era in which I grew up better than anything I’ve ever read.
I wish I had written that. . .
Stacy: I would choose “The Great Gatsby,” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. There is nothing about that book I do not love: the era, the glamour, the romance, the tragedy. I mentioned “Rules Of Civility,” what I like most about that book is that it reminds me of “Gatsby,” which is probably my favorite book ever.
Greeny: Stacy and I have a couple we spend a lot of time with, Tim and Elizabeth Dugan, who are quite well read and love to debate. We recently spent a three-hour dinner arguing over which book could rightfully lay claim to the title “greatest American novel.”
My vote is for “Catcher In The Rye,” by J.D. Salinger which I re-read two years ago and loved so much I named our dog after a character; Phoebe, Holden’s sister, who is the only person in the world who makes him feel better. So, I suppose if the dream is to write the great American novel, that’s the one I would say I most wish I had written.[/box]
When I was a boy, my parents were writers and they owned a bookstore, The Complete Traveler in New York, so writing and books have held special places in my heart all my life. I have always loved to read, so I’ve been moved and influenced by more books than I could ever count, but only one changed my life.
I was 25 years old and I was flying from Providence to Phoenix. In those days — and probably now, too — there was no efficient way to get from Rhode Island to Arizona. The trip required three different planes and 12 total hours. I knew I needed something to read, so I picked up a copy of a book I had heard about mostly because it had been made into a movie with Robin Williams. I never saw the movie. It was called The World According To Garp.
When I took off from Providence, my only professional aspiration was what it had always been: I wanted to be a sportscaster. By the time I landed in the desert, I knew I would spend the rest of my life trying to be a writer.
I couldn’t believe how vividly John Irving’s characters were drawn, how inventive the story was, how outrageous the circumstances, how brilliant the writing. Irving was, and remains, my favorite writer by a wide margin.
I have since read every word he has ever written, in fact Garp isn’t even my favorite of his books. I would name The Cider House Rules, The Hotel New Hampshire, and A Prayer For Owen Meany ahead of it, in that order. But the initial reaction I had on that plane was something I’ll never forget.
I certainly do not, and could not, write like Irving. The contemporary authors I most admire are Nick Hornby and Jonathan Tropper. Hornby’s High Fidelity is, to me, the best book about being a guy ever written, and his book A Long Way Down was, stylistically, the inspiration for my novel. Tropper is awesome in most of the same ways and I relate to his writing more than anyone I’ve ever read; he is the American Nick Hornby.
I wrote All You Could Ask For to honor a friend, Heidi Armitage, who left us much too soon in 2009 at the age of 43. The story of All You Could Ask For is not her story, neither are any of the characters based on her, but her story and her spirit inspired it and inspired me in every way that matters.
In conjunction with the release on April 2, my wife Stacy and I have created a foundation called “Heidi’s Angels,” and we are proudly donating 100 percent of our proceeds to The V Foundation For Cancer research, specifically to combat breast cancer.
For more on “All You Could Ask for,” visit www.AllYouCouldAskFor.com and follow Mike Greenberg on Twitter (@ESPNGreeny); Stacy Greenberg (@StacyGSG) and William Morrow Books (@WmMorrowBks). For a 30-minute interview with Mike Greenberg where he discusses the book in detail, click here. All of the author’s proceeds from AYCAF will go to The V Foundation for Cancer Research.