Tag Archives: football

Books Acquired Recently: Nikki Reimer/PM Press Edition

I recently read Nikki Reimer’s My Heart is a Rose Manhattan and loved it. I decided to buy her previous two collections as a result, and they came in the mail today.

Reimer, Nikki. DOWNVERSE. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2014.

—. [sic]. Calgary: Frontenac House, 2010.


I just joined PM Press’s Friends of PM program, which sends subscribers several books each month for a flat fee of $30.00. It’s like a leftist Book of the Month Club! I got my first shipment today. There were three books. One is a vegan cookbook that I’m giving away, but these are the two that I am keeping:

Phillips, Gary. The Jook. Oakland: PM Press, 2009.

I am excited to see that this novel is about American football because there are almost no novels about the sport. There is Don DeLillo’s End Zone and Chuck Klosterman’s Downtown Owl (and even this one is a stretch), and that’s about it.

Stout, Mike. Homestead Steel Mill: The Final Ten Years; USWA Local 1397 and the Fight for Union Democracy. Oakland: PM Press, 2020.

The cover photograph of this book shows a bunch of workers at a protest yelling with their middle fingers raised.

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Books Acquired Recently

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve gone a little wild buying books lately. Here’s what’s come in over the past week or so.

Campbell, W. Joseph. 1995: The Year the Future Began. Oakland: U of California P, 2015.

I received this book as a birthday gift. I am excited to read it because I remember 1995 quite clearly, and it’s weird to me that I am old enough now to be having history written about times when I was alive. I look forward to seeing why Campbell argues that it was 1995 specifically that began a new era in America rather than, say, 2001.

Frank, Arthur W. Letting Stories Breathe: A Socio-Narratology. 2010. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2012.

I have been interested in the theory of narrative since taking a course on narrative theology my last year of college nearly fifteen years ago. I’ve been looking to incorporate more of this theory into my own scholarship, and in doing some research on the subject came across this book, which sounds intriguing. I purchased it from one of amazon.com’s network of independent booksellers.

Loeppky, Lynette. Cease: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Desire. Fernie: Oolichan, 2014.

I read a review of this book in Rhubarb magazine, and decided to buy it because it is in a genre, queer Mennonite writing, that is a primary focus of my scholarship. I bought it from one of abebooks.com’s network of booksellers, which is where I end up buying a lot of books that have been published in Canada, but not the U.S. Sadly, this is often the case for Canadian Mennonite writing.

Plimpton, George. One More July: A Football Dialogue with Bill Curry. New York: Harper, 1977.

I read about this book a few months ago in Nelson Aldrich’s oral history of Plimpton’s life, George, Being George. There was an interesting story told by Curry about how he made Plimpton take out the story of Curry learning about how to use the word “motherfucker” from Bubba Smith. Last weekend I was browsing at the Rose and Laurel Bookshop in Oneonta, New York, and found this copy in good condition for just a dollar, so I decided to buy it. I’m really sad that it does not have the motherfucker chapter, though.

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Books Acquired Recently: Sports History Edition

Katz, Jeff. Split Season: 1981: Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike That Saved Baseball. New York: Dunne, 2015.

1981 was one of the weirdest seasons in Major League history because it was bisected by a players’ strike. Apparently no one has ever written a book on it, though, and I was too young to remember it, so when I heard about Katz’s book I was immediately intrigued.

Michaels, Al, with L. Jon Wertheim. You Can’t Make This Up: Miracles, Memories, and the Perfect Marriage of Sports and Television. New York: Morrow, 2014.

Al Michaels has been one of my favorite sportscasters since I was old enough to be able to tell different announcers apart. I especially remember him announcing the excruciating 1988 NLCS, and also Monday Night Football, but have enjoyed his work on a number of sports throughout the years. He has announced some of the most important sports moments over the last forty years–way more than any other announcer–thus I am excited to read this memoir.

I missed one of the most famous of these moments, the earthquake during the 1989 World Series (you can watch a clip of Michaels’ call of the earthquake here; the earthquake happens at about 4:38 of the clip), and I am still kicking myself for it. I was nine at the time, and my bedtime was a half an hour after the games would begin (I believe they started at 8:00 and I had to go to bed at 8:30), which was incredibly frustrating. Usually I would watch that first half hour, but I would only get to see the entire first inning if I was lucky, and so I remember that night deciding to watch a sitcom during that time instead. This choice caused me to miss history. I remember flipping to ABC to check on the game during a commercial break and having the screen just be black (I was watching on a small black-and-white television in my parents’ room; I think they were entertaining company, which is why I wasn’t watching the color television in the living room), and thinking “that’s weird, they’re having technical difficulties. I guess I made the right choice.” But when I heard the next day (remember those days before the internet when you had to wait until the next morning to get the news from the paper?) what had happened I realized that I was wrong.

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Books Acquired Recently: Desk Copies Edition

DeLillo, Don. End Zone. 1972. New York: Penguin, 1986.

I’ll be teaching this novel in my Literature in Focus: Teens and Twenty-Somethings course next semester. The course only includes books with youngish protagonists. End Zone is the story of a college football team in Texas, and I am including it in the course with the hope that it will help some of the student-athletes who don’t read for fun realize that there is literature out there that speaks to their experiences. The novel is the best (and, frankly, one of the only) novel about American football by far. It is fascinating to me that there haven’t been more books written on this subject, considering that Americans are obsessed with it (and, of course, DeLillo does an excellent job exploring football as a metaphor for the American psyche). Perhaps this is because of football’s brutish nature. It appeals to a different mindset than a sport like baseball does, which has inspired a literary tradition almost as rich as the game itself.

Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. 1939. New York: Penguin, 2006.

This has been one of my favorite novels since I first read it in high school, and I am finally going to teach it for the first time, in my American Literature After 1865 survey. Its length is right on the edge of what is possible to teach to undergraduates without them losing interest, but I think that the compelling storyline and the richness of Steinbeck’s prose will keep them engaged.

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In Defense of Tiger Woods

Yesterday, Tiger Woods shot a 61 to give him a seven-stroke lead in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He will now almost certainly win the tournament, which would give him four PGA Tour victories this year ahead of next week’s PGA Championship. Even though it isn’t finished, Tiger’s year is already one worthy of yet another Player of the Year award.

But despite his high level of play this year, most of the discourse surrounding him has focused on his failure to win a major tournament since 2008. Some columnists (e.g., Rick Reilly earlier this summer on ESPN.com) wonder what Tiger’s legacy will be if he never wins another major and thus fails to break Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 major victories.

While I understand that this is a compelling storyline, it is also a ridiculous one. Whether Woods wins another major or not (and I think he will, and if he does win another major and gets that load off of his back, he will definitely break Nicklaus’s record), the way he has been playing this year makes it clear that he still has a number of prime years left and will obliterate the all-time record for PGA Tour wins, and maybe even become the first player to reach 100 wins. He is the greatest golfer of all time, and it is time the media started treating him as such the way they crowned Michael Jordan the best basketball player ever while he was still playing.

But, of course, there are extenuating circumstances. Aside from Woods’s highly-publicized womanizing and subsequent messy divorce, he is, apparently (just like Jordan!), not the most pleasant guy to be around. So of course many in the media focus on his failures instead of his continuing success. I think especially here of Curtis Strange’s commentary on Woods during the final round of this year’s British Open, which made me want to turn off the television. Strange acted like no one before Woods had ever had a bad final round to fall out of contention at a major at the same time Lee Westwood was doing the exact same thing! (The narrative there was simply “Poor Lee Westwood, will he ever win a major?”)

While I do not condone Woods’s personal behavior during his marriage (I have no problem with him sleeping with multiple women [let’s be honest, ninety percent of heterosexual American men would have done the same thing if they were in his position], but he should have been honest and asked for a divorce before doing so instead of trying to hide it from his wife), I do think it is unfair that the media keeps harping on it. Just compare the way the media treats Woods to how they treat Michael Vick’s story, which is presented as a narrative of redemption. Woods made mistakes, he paid for them both financially and in terms of trying to “get better” by going to rehab, and it is time to move on, which many in the media refuse to do.

It is thus difficult not to read a racist element in the media’s treatment of Woods. He is a black man succeeding in a white sport, and not only did he cheat on his wife, but he was guilty of that most punishable of sins throughout American history, having sex with a white woman. I suppose that, this being America, I shouldn’t be surprised about how Woods gets treated, that he gets judged for things other than his performance on the golf course, but it angers me nonetheless. This is why I continue to root for Woods. He is the one more sinned against than sinning.

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