KEEPERS by Bill Littlefield

KEEPERS

Radio Stories from Only a Game and Elsewhere
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KIRKUS REVIEW

The well-known Boston-based National Public Radio host (Only a Game) slaps his quaint “ain’t sports funny” shtick between two covers, leaving readers, unlike listeners, unable to switch the station. Littlefield has carved out a niche for himself among sports-loving radio listeners for his amiable, sometimes achingly wry musings on the sporting world. This volume, comprised of essays, commentary, and excruciatingly corny verse, gives focus to the author’s gentle conceit that he and his listeners are somehow above the rank and file of fans who, owing to their blind lust for statistics, sporting memorabilia, and $175 sneakers, are somehow accountable for the decline of our civilization. Undoubtedly displaying a fine style, Littlefield’s writing, when divorced from his dulcet-toned radio voice, seems meandering. For instance, his take on how a pitched baseball seemingly defies the laws of nature (—a virtual staple in the baseball writer’s repertoire—) will only seem fresh to readers who seldom stray into the sports section of their local papers. But apparently that’s the point. To his credit, Littlefield offers lucid and moving odes to such heroes as the late tennis pioneer Arthur Ashe, Boston Celtics star Larry Bird, and the baseball hurler Nolan Ryan, as well as some evocative slice-of-life stuff about minor-league and amateur athletes, and his daughters’ soccer leagues. Nevertheless, these gems seem lost among such puffery as his ode to the Harvard-Yale game or his painfully unfunny football haikus. Contrary to modern myth, sports and high erudition are not mutually exclusive. Sportswriting like this only helps perpetuate that myth. This book will thrill Littlefield’s core of listeners; it will anger anyone who simply likes to play and watch games, rather than dwell on their greater cultural significance.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 1-883684-14-8
Page count: 248pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1998