Tuesday, April 08, 2008

curse at the crybabies

Black, Alan. Kick the Balls: An Offensive Suburban Odyssey. June 2008. Hudson Street Press. 304p. ISBN: 978-1-59463-047-7. $23.95.

for Library Journal

Alan Black, who grew up in Glasgow but now runs a San Francisco bar and literary venue called the Edinburgh Pub Castle, spins this yarn of his spectacularly unsuccessful venture into coaching peewee soccer with a bartender’s irreverent style. Replete as it may be with heart, humor, and clever cynicism, the book—at 304 pages—reads like a drawn-out anecdote, with several narrative spin-offs distracting from the games themselves: fictitious “news articles” following each loss, sarcastic moral inquiries to a televangelist Black watches late at night, running conversation with Ben & Jerry whose ice cream he eats for comfort and consolation, and laments of the staid suburban life. The actual game commentary, on the other hand, is brisk, cruel, and hilarious, a play-by-play exhibition of the differences between today’s “everyone’s a winner” athletics and the antic traditions of Black's generation of players, bonded by their roguish will to take the game at any cost. While his team goes the entire season without winning a single game, Black pulls off enough laugh-out-loud insights to make this rough-and-tumble, often offensive cultural commentary a winner. Recommended for all public and private libraries. Elizabeth Kennedy, Oakland, CA