cover The Iditarod, a huge annual sled dog race (on which I wouldn't normally be inclined to seek literature). Phillips came back with this transportive 18,000 word masterpiece reminiscent of Hunter Thompson's infamous journey to the center of the Kentucky Derby. But Phillips is more mature, humanistic and grounded, realizing a style of writing you can call "Gonzo grown up."
The Grantland piece incorporates a dazzlingly interactive multi-media map of Alaska which allows you to take the trip visually while you take it emotionally. Even though these features were tasteful and fun, I hardly noticed them due to Phillips' serene, thrilling, funny and even poetic descriptions of this other world I never thought I cared about. And that's ultimately the most important thing he--and any great writer--does... He opens up our worlds, engaging us to the profundity of something that never really blipped on our rader.