This book, published in 2010, began as a 9-month research grant to study overseas basketball and became my love letter to the Philippines. Still in print and available at online bookstores.
Two and Two: McSorley's, My Dad, and Me
A forthcoming memoir about growing up around and working at McSorley's Old Ale House, the landmark New York City pub where my father has been tending bar since 1972. To be published by Little, Brown May 9, 2017
Praise for Two and Two: "This is more than a story about a famous speakeasy where, for the price of a beer, you can still sit at the same tables where great writers like Joseph Mitchell, Eugene O'Neill, and e.e. Cummings once sat and ruminated. This is a story about a father and son, both of whom toiled for years amidst the ghosts a hundred years past, when a group of hard working Irish Americans created one of New York's greatest institutions with nothing more than sweat, beer, liverwurst sandwiches, and an occasional punch in the nose to all spoilers and bullies.
"Many a day I have sat in McSorley's amidst the sawdust and beer and said to myself, 'You'd have to be a child of this place to make these ghosts speak.' And that is exactly what Rafe Bartholomew is. His is the voice of ages, the shouts of thousands of fireman, cops, soldiers, drunks, bums, wayfarers, liars, and good souls whose hard luck brought them to McSorley's, and whose good spirit still reign over the place. He hoists this wonderful piece of Americana into the air with all the humor, joy, humility and love that it deserves."―James McBride, author of The Color of Water and The Good Lord Bird
"Rafe's like a brother to me. So to read this book is to discover a childhood I never knew he had (never knew any kid could have!) and a dad I can't wait to meet. Rafe presents both with enviable, high-definition affection. This is a biography of a father and the bar that became part of his soul. It's a memoir of a son the bar co-parented. It's history of New York City and a sly, considered essay on masculinity. It's a book quietly about a mythic America that simultaneously never really existed yet, obviously, totally did. Rafe's writing, his memories, his sensitivity and sweetness made me laugh. They moved me. In my years living in New York, I never thought of a bar like McSorley's as a bar for me. The hefty beauty and lasting surprise of this book is how it reminds me over and over that I was probably - maybe certainly - wrong."―Wesley Morris, New York Times columnist at-large and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism
"Rafe Bartholomew has written a smart, moving book for the inner New Yorker (and inner barfly) in all of us. His father-not to mention Old John McSorley himself-should be damned proud."―Tom Bissell, author of Apostle and Extra Lives
"In Two and Two, Rafe Bartholomew has not just lovingly crafted an homage to a singular American place of drink, but also given us a steady look into the intense realm of father and son. This memoir pulses with uncommon talent."―William Giraldi, author of The Hero's Body and Hold the Dark
A "big-hearted memoir of a lifelong romance with New York City's oldest (continuously operating) saloon... a watering hole for artists, politicians, and oddballs, a storehouse of oral tradition passed through generations of staff... [Bartholomew's] portrayal of the rough humor and blue-collar warmth feels completely earned."―Publishers Weekly
For more than four years I worked at the ESPN website Grantland.com, started by Bill Simmons. I was the features editor for the publication and also made time to write columns about boxing and report lengthy stories about Philippine basketball. Visit my contributor page to find links to everything I wrote and the handful of podcasts I hosted over the years.