Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Jeffrey Marx will be at Joseph-Beth Booksellers Monday night at 7.
He will be there to discuss and sign his latest book, The Long Snapper, which tells the story of Brian Kinchen, a former Louisiana State and NFL football player.
In 2003, Kinchen, a 38-year-old father of four working as a school teacher, was called out of three years of football retirement by the New England Patriots.
He wound up as the long-snapper on the field goal Adam Vinatieri hit to beat the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
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Marx hopes the book will have success similar to his prior one, Season of Life. It's the story of the post-NFL life (ministry, a program to help boys develop as men) of former Baltimore Colts lineman Joe Ehrmann.
That book, which Marx initially self-published, wound up on The New York Times best-sellers list.
Of course, in Lexington, Ky., Marx will probably always be remembered for a project he completed before he began writing books.
In 1986, Marx was one of two Lexington Herald-Leader reporters who won the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting for a series on improprieties in big-time college basketball, primarily at the University of Kentucky.
At the time of publication of the series in October 1985, there was a significant public backlash.
In a phone interview Thursday morning, Marx discussed both his past time in Lexington and his new book.
Question: What kind of reception do you get when you appear in Lexington?
Answer: (Laughs). It just depends on which people I run into. The last time I was there with Season of Life, it was the best reaction I've ever had. I had a great time there. So I enjoyed it the last time.
Q: Had your reactions here been bad before that last time?
A: I don't know if bad would be the right word, maybe awkward. ... But it's been since 1985 when the series came out. I was 22 years old when we were doing those things. I'm a 46-year-old man, now, so a few things have changed since then. I'm wiser, more experienced, just have a different perspective.
I'm proud of the work we did then; it was a wonderful experience in that newsroom for a 22-year-old in his first job. But it's not something that I spend a whole lot of time thinking about now.
Q: So how did you decide to write the story of Brian Kinchen?
A: I knew about the story long before I decided to write it. In 2003, (Kinchen) read my book Season of Life. He had started teaching school, his first year as a seventh-grade teacher. He just called me one day to talk about Season of Life. His father, Gus, works with (the Fellowship of Christian Athletes) in Louisiana, and FCA was using Season of Life extensively.
... So, anyway, after Brian signed with the Patriots, I called him to congratulate him, then a couple of more times, but it was just to stay in touch with a guy I had gotten to know a little bit.
As a sports narrative, I always recognized that his story, a seventh-grade teacher called out of retirement and wins a Super Bowl ring while playing a crucial role on the game-winning play, was very compelling.
But I wasn't interested in writing it until I got to know Brian better afterwards, and then the whole story line really captivated me, a man and a spiritual journey of growth.
Q: What makes Kinchen's life journey beyond football powerful?
A: Brian grew up in a football family, played at LSU, then played in the NFL, and all that time his focus was winning that championship ring. Then, after his (football career) had seemed long over, he got this call out of the blue and got a final chance and actually won a Super Bowl ring.
But, if you read the book, you'll see that once he got that ring, he realized he never needed it in the first place. His is a story of someone who comes to realize that what matters in a man is his relationships with others, in having a cause beyond yourself, in impacting the lives of others. That realization once he's hit what should be his professional pinnacle is what makes Brian's story so rich.
Q: When you are trying to get people to read a book about someone who is not widely famous, how do you do it?
A: That's a great question. Certainly, if this were about Tom Brady and his journey or Bill Belichick and his journey, it wouldn't be any problem getting people to buy.
I'm hoping the story itself sort of carries it. I'm trying to share it with as many people as I can. I'm also hoping the success of Season of Life helps tremendously, will bring in the people who were moved by that book.