Monday, February 20, 2017

the throwback special by chris bachelder

I'm not a team sports enthusiast. Truly, I'm vehemently anti-athletics of the team variety, since, among more virtuous geopolitical reasons, they remind me of being tortured by jocks as a new wave teen. Still, I relished Bachelder's book, because it isn't really about organized sport. Rather, it's a near-scientific observation of twenty-two men in the throes of middle life who have gathered annually for the last sixteen years to reenact Joe Theismann's 1985 leg-shattering play, known as "The Throwback Special," laced with heavy doses of bittersweet humor - a favorite flavor of mine. Those of you who miss the pleasure of eavesdropping on humans conversing in public spaces* will appreciate the low- and high-brow overheard philosophical gems sprinkled throughout the work as the men, largely begrudgingly, prepare for a ritual many of them are no longer emotionally invested in. Reading it felt like the best kind of being invisible: reader as witness to a curious cultural gathering without actually being invited. Give it to fans of Matthew Quick and readers who enjoy American football.
*long ago replaced with the silence inherent in smartphone-gazing