"All You Could Ask For" author Mike Greenberg Discusses the Influence Books Have Had on His Life
Though ESPN’s Mike Greenberg always knew he wanted to be a sportscaster, it wasn’t until reading John Irving on a flight that he realized he’d aspire to be a writer as well. His first novel, All You Could Ask For, is available in paperback now, and follows three women as they learn the true value of compassion, sacrifice, and friendship. In the post below, Mike talks about growing up with books, a few of his favorites, and the inspiration behind All You Could Ask For.
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…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.
This post originally appeared on ESPN Front Row.
To learn more about All You Could Ask For, visit http://allyoucouldaskfor.com/ and follow Mike Greenberg on Twitter (@ESPNGreeny); Stacy Greenberg (@StacyGSG) and William Morrow Books (@WmMorrowBks). All of the author’s proceeds from AYCAF will go to The V Foundation for Cancer Research (@TheVFoundation).