Please enjoy the following titles. They offer an honest and unflinching introduction to the world of organized play.
MVP: A Novel
Boice wants to diagnose our cultural perversions, and chooses as his patient a professional basketball star athlete. The real problems, at least for the reader, arise in distinguishing victim from victimizer, sifting causes from effects, deliberating means from ends. Or perhaps this is just the kind of contemporary story we prefer to close in a quietly ambiguous manner, carefully avoiding self-implication.
Buried in this mystery lies an insightful weapon used to pummel the popular mythology of professional sports. Constantine, a local author, is unrelenting at capturing the authentic character of characters, and the world that blindly abuses them.
The Best of Roald Dahl.
In his story "The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar," included in this collection, Roald Dahl plays with conventionally negative personality characteristics and the ramifications of self-indulgence. Henry Sugar is a gambler whose wealth and ego provide a firm foundation for his greed. But what if the road to Heaven is paved with evil intentions?
A Fan's Notes: A Fictional Memoir
This misanthropic novel is a blood-curdling scream against conformity, written from the perspective of a failed, frustrated conformist. Why accept an invitation to tour this particular inferno? The book is well written and profound beyond explanation, and features the dreadful charisma of an alcoholic who is desperately ruminating on whether his adoration of football is the most obvious indication that he will always be a mere spectator of life.
Bang the Drum Slowly
In this more famous sequel to Harris' novel, The Southpaw, Henry Wiggen, star pitcher, returns, this time breaking the bar on the conventional cliché of inspiring sports stories -- in which work ethic determines professional success -- to prove that ethics of a more profound kind lead to success of a more meaningful sort. A heartwarming tale of friendship in spite of competition.
Tales from the Farm
The first book in the superlative contemporary expressionist "Essex County" trilogy of graphic novels in which hockey serves as the canvas for an epic story about a family in triumph and sorrow.
This deceptively simple novel describes the effects that boxing has on the soul of an adolescent struggling to negotiate the decisions that lead to adulthood. Lipsyte mines the multifaceted jewel that lies within the heart of honest competition -- where the challenge is to reflect the best of your opponent -- and its effects on a society where rules are anything but agreed upon.
The classic parable -- possibly the first, and some say the greatest novel ever written about baseball, the tragic hubris of natural-born, God-given talent, and the various veneers of myth that surround greatness in human form. A prodigy player finds that both baseball and life are more profound than the gift of talent can accommodate.
Learning to Lose
Spain -- current reigning World Cup champion -- provides the setting for this Crash-like tale of four quite different characters: a teenage girl, her father and grandfather, and a young soccer player recently arrived from Argentina to play among the elites of European club soccer. A socially diverse novel, the various perspectives prove that in a world where winning is everything, learning to lose is, while perhaps less satisfying, a far more honest and substantial goal.