MANY FANS envy the life of a sportswriter. Many sportswriters would envy S.L. Price—specifically, the assignment the SI senior writer landed in 2003, reporting for a year from a temporary home in the south of France. Price had olive trees in the backyard, good wine on the table and a continent full of stories.
In Far Afield, Price evokes the magic of that year, when he wrote about skiing, soccer, tennis, cycling, cricket and the Olympics. He also describes the challenges of being an American abroad, not the least of which, he writes, is constantly having to answer for President Bush's decisions. But what sets the smart and honest Far Afield apart is Price's accounting of how he arrived at this place—not just in France, but in life. He examines his difficult relationship with his Marine father and his disdain for his hometown of Stamford, Conn. He also reflects on his professional growth, which began while covering Michael Jordan when both were students at North Carolina and hit an apex with a career--defining revelation while covering the Mike Tyson-Carl (the Truth) Williams bout in 1989.
It was then that Price realized his job was not only to report but also to identify defining truths. (This insight comes while reading Pete Hamill's fight coverage, not from meditating on Williams's nickname.) The truth Price finds in France is that he can never escape the forces that molded him. In his year abroad the richest subject he discovered was himself.