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Deford Spins a Tale of Love, Sports, War

Frank Deford is one of America's best sportswriters. And while his latest book, Bliss, Remembered, revolves around the 1936 Berlin Olympics, it is far from just a sports story. Instead, it tells a tale that could have been written by a romance novelist. The Westport resident spoke at Sacred Heart University on Wednesday night -- part of the WHSU Radio Join the Conversation series. "I was searching for a [love] story. I wanted something sweet and light," he said. He found it in the memories of Sydney Stringfellow, an American swimmer at the Olympics who falls in love with a young German man on the eve of World War II.

The 85-year-old Stringfellow, dying of cancer, tells her son the history of her great romance (the "bliss remembered). Deford said he didn't have any trouble writing from a woman's point of view. "It's not like they [women] are aliens to me," Deford said. "I have been married to one for awhile, I have a mother, I had daughters, woman bosses and colleagues. There are a lot of men I don't understand."

Deford enjoyed looking back to the 1930s, a time when there were more impediments to love. In today's world, he said, the Montagues and Capulets of Romeo and Juliet would have gone to the same country club and been happy their children were hooking up,leaving Shakespeare out of luck.

Deford, who, like the book's main character is from Maryland, writes for Sports Illustrated, where he began in 1968, appears on HBO's Real Sports and does a daily commentary for NPR, which he records at WHSU. He has written 16 books, as well as screen plays.

He told his audience that he tends to shy away from writing sports novels, to escape from his daily work. But sports weren't far from his mind. "There is a love of sport, a passion," he said. "It is true all over the world. It seems to be a part of the human condition. Just look at the World Cup. We love these guys and we look up to them."

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