With a byline long familiar to readers of the New York Times sports pages, Harvey Araton is also the author of six critically acclaimed nonfiction sports books, most recently the New York Times bestseller Driving Mr. Yogi: Yogi Berra, Ron Guidry and Baseball’s Greatest Gift. Today, you can meet him as he signs his first novel, Cold Type (Cinco Puntos, July), 3:30–4 p.m., at Table 3 of the Autographing Area.
With six books under his belt, Araton is a pro at the workings of BEA, right? Surprisingly, no: this is Araton’s very first time at the show. “I’ve always covered pro basketball,” he explains, “so I’m usually traveling this time of year because the playoffs are going on.” This year, neither New York team made the playoffs and Araton’s schedule wasn’t so hectic, so he’s here at Javits (though next week he’s traveling again to cover the NBA finals).
In Cold Type, Araton shifts focus from sports to journalism (oh, he also teaches journalism at Montclair State University). Set in the early 1990s at the fictional New York City Trib, the story has staffers wrestling with both the technology of computerized typesetting, new to many daily papers, called “cold type” and a newspaper workers’ strike. It’s all just bad timing for Trib reporter Jamie Kramer, who’s already struggling with a troubled marriage and the urge to escape the shadow of his father, a hardcore Jewish shop steward in an Irish-dominated union.
Although Cold Type is Araton’s third book in three years (after When The Garden Was Eden and Driving Mr. Yogi) he started work on it years ago. “It was an idea that came out of a newspaper strike I’d been involved in in the ’90s, and coincided with the birth of my first son and the death of my father. But when you are trying to earn a living, certain things come first. I even took a five-month sabbatical from the New York Times, but [even then] I had to put it down. It wasn’t until someone said, ‘You’re not getting any younger,’ that I went back and finally did it.”
Araton anticipates being “like a wide-eyed kid” at BEA, “in the company of many great writers and publishers.” He credits Cinco Puntos publisher and editor-in-chief Lee Byrd with helping him shape the manuscript. “Though I’ve spent 35 years as a journalist, working with a small press gave me an opportunity to learn and grow as a novelist. I’m really proud of this book not only because working with Lee has helped me tremendously, but also because I didn’t let it go because of other circumstances.”