The ingratiating journal of a man content but not complacent about his lot in life. Vecsey—a sports columnist for The New York Times—kept an episodic log of his 1986 assignment schedule. It started on New Year's Day at Miami's Orange Bowl (where Oklahoma beat Penn State 25-10 to take college football's national championship) and ended on New Year's Eve in Phoenix, Ariz., with the author preparing to write about another clash for the same title. Between times, he followed the fortunes of such home teams as baseball's Mets (winners of an exciting World Series), basketball's Knicks, and hockey's Islanders (fallen on hard times after four straight Stanley Cups). Vecsey also journeyed to the Soviet Union (which tested his resolutely liberal impulses) for the Goodwill Games, Mexico for the World Cup soccer matches (of which he is an unabashed fan), and other venues well west of the Hudson River. The text's diary format serves mainly as a narrative convenience. In many cases, Vecsey uses it as a point of departure to comment on family ties, his profession, and larger issues (including the abolition of prizefighting). A working reporter who covered religion and Appalachia for over a decade before returning to the sports beat, the author is self-consciously aware of the wider worlds beyond athletics. With ghosted biographies for the celebrity likes of Loretta Lynn (Coal Miner's Daughter) and Martina Navratilova, plus books of his own (One Sunset a Week), still in print, he is able to wander far afield indeed. In less deft hands, a personal odyssey of this sort could have been self-indulgently mawkish. Vecsey, though, manages to make his points, offer the odd anecdote, pay tribute where it is due, and provide glimpses of sports reporting's less glamorous aspects in unflaggingly graceful fashion. Overall, then, a winning memoir.
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