In the newest collection of his columns, Tiger, Meet My Sister, Reilly tackles a variety of subjects, including Lance Armstrong's deception and soccer star Oscar Pareja's experience playing a game against drug lord Pablo Escobar, as well as his own funeral. (Reilly would like it to include Guinness, the Cure and the Miami Dolphins cheerleaders.) Reilly, 56, graduated with a degree in journalism from University of Colorado Boulder and swiftly moved up the ranks writing for the Denver Post, the Los Angeles Times and Sports Illustrated, where his column, "Life of Reilly," appeared on the magazine's back page for 10 years. In 2007, Reilly joined ESPN, writing for ESPN: The Magazine and espn.com. He has announced he plans to retire, or at least semiretire, this summer. He lives in Denver with his wife, Cynthia.
What's on your nightstand?
Right now, I'm reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, and I am finding it to be fascinating. I love it. I just finished The Happiness Project. It didn't make me happy. ... I'm not into crafting. I'm also reading F My Life. It's a book that started as a website that young people put together. It's made up of short anecdotes. I find it hilarious. I also have a book that I'm done with, but I keep it on my nightstand, City of Thieves by David Benioff. Of course you can't call a book about the siege of Leningrad funny, but the book is funny in the way it makes you think. It's excellent. There is no food to be found, and unless two men (Lev and Koyla) find a dozen eggs for the wedding of a commandant's daughter, they will be killed. But how can they find eggs when there's no food to be had?
You said you finished it, but you keep it out. To skim it, or what?
I do pick it up. As a writer, you sometimes get stuck. You think to yourself, "Oh my God, is English my first language?'' I try to keep great writing nearby to help me through that, and City of Thieves is great.
Why are you retiring?
I've been doing this for 36 years. ... It's like the dog whose owner keeps him inside an electric fence and the owner dies and the electricity goes away. The dog could leave the yard, but he doesn't. He wants to stay in the same place. Well, I'm finally ready to leave the yard. ... You know, sometimes it starts to feel like there's only seven sports columns to write, and I've done those 11,000 times. Every time something happens, I think, I've seen this — "Oh, the racist owner? Oh yeah we did that with Marge Schott. ... Oh, the athlete who gives us thrills and then turns out to be a perfect liar? We did that — Mark McGwire."
What are you going to do when you retire?
Move to Italy where I plan to write books and movies and see if I can become F. Scott Fitzgerald ... but I doubt it. We'll be moving there for six months and then I'll be doing Monday Night Countdown for ESPN.
Piper Castillo can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4163.