From journalist/novelist Mewshaw, a shaky, rather dragged-out farce about a pro tennis player, banned for life, who sneaks...

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From journalist/novelist Mewshaw, a shaky, rather dragged-out farce about a pro tennis player, banned for life, who sneaks back onto the tour in disguise--but with, here and there, lively elements of roman à clef possibly culled from his 1983 non-fiction exposÉ on international tennis, Short Circuit. The time is 1993 and the narrator is fast-talking Eddie Brown, an American tennis agent whose big discovery (""my Lana Turner"") is North African Wunderkind Latif Fluss, who came from almost literally nowhere to make it to the very top of professional tennis, only to sink beneath the weight of all the cocaine that money can buy--and who finally ends up in an American prison, framed (heroin in his luggage) by an Italian promoter he double-crossed. Three years later he's out again, blackballed for life; but with the help of the at-first reluctant Eddie, Latif makes his comeback as the mysterious Tuareg, ""Baraka,"" keeping snooping reporters at bay with the shyness of Garbo, the surliness of Sean Penn, colored contact lenses, and a veil. Once again, Fluss beats all comers, but this time stays away from drugs and under-the-table deals, keeping himself pure by ""pyramid power"" and ""mental-imaging."" But--naturally--he's soon found out and the jig is up: a blackballing consortium of reporters, tennis officials and promoters tries to force him to deliberately take a dive at Wimbledon, but instead Latif plays five fierce sets against McEnroe, loses honorably, and leaves the tour for a home and family--as does Eddie. The complete, utter unlikeliness of Latif's comeback-in-disguise--better suited to pro wrestling--and our long wait for the inevitable finale make Mewshaw's story far from compelling--but there are enough wicked glimpses (especially early on) into the corrupt inner world of international tennis to merit a good browse.

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 1986

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1986