Sunday, June 8, 2008

Question of the Week

Jonathan, El Paso, TX
Subj: Doing it by the book
Hey Ryan, I’m about to go on a two-week vacation with my wife’s family (faking my own death was out of the question). Can you recommend a good sports book so I don’t have to talk to my mother-in-law?

You bet, Jonathan. One of the finest books I’ve read in the past five years is The Great American Novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Philip Roth. The hilarious tome tells the story of the Port Ruppert Mundys, a hapless wartime baseball team that featured a one-armed outfielder, a one-legged catcher, a narcoleptic third baseman, a 14-year-old infielder and a flame-throwing pitcher famous for his “snot” ball. It’s satire at its best and Roth hits a grand slam with every page. The New Republic has called The Great American Novel “An awesome performance,” praising Roth for reinventing baseball literature as pure slapstick.

If you prefer something with a little more historical accuracy I’d recommend Loose Balls, a rollicking page-turner about the short, wild life of the ABA. Author Terry Pluto wisely lets the league’s stars tell the stories in their own words as they recount tales of two-foot high afros, disappearing franchises and bloody melees erupting on “Kid’s Day”. It’s been called “The best sports book of the year” by USA Today and it’s easily the funniest basketball book on the market. Good luck, and enjoy your vacation!