THE THROWBACK SPECIAL by Chris Bachelder
Kirkus Star

THE THROWBACK SPECIAL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this comic dissection of male bonding, a group of men gathers for their yearly celebration and re-enactment of a notorious play in professional football.

In their 17th annual gathering, 22 men arrive at a 2 ½–star hotel on U.S. Interstate 95 for a weekend of rituals tied to the five seconds in 1985 when Lawrence Taylor of the New York Giants sacked Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann and fractured the tibia and fibula of his right leg, ending his career. Bachelder (Abbott Awaits, 2011, etc.) looks at the strange, inane, and obvious things American males deem holy—as well as the many small pains they tend to share without “sharing.” Among the weekend’s big moments are the lottery assigning each man’s role as a real-life athlete from the 1985 game, the viewing of video of the sack, and the re-enactment itself. Bachelder seems able to riff wryly on almost anything. One conversation concerns those whose wives have asked them to sit while urinating. Another details a man’s attraction to the women pictured in illustrated children’s books. Yet another drifts “inevitably toward vasectomy and time share.” Eight delightful pages begin: “It would be difficult to overstate the men’s enthusiasm for continental breakfast.” As a group, the middle-aged men produce “waves of masculine sound, the toneless song of regret and exclamation." They often talk in a “complex alloy of sincerity and derision.” One on one, they may speak quietly of their children and marriages and wonder when “daily life [would] cease to consist of a series of small threats.”

Bachelder’s take on manhood is sharply observed and sympathetic and funny enough to win over even those readers who abhor football and its fans.

Pub Date: March 14th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-393-24946-0
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2015




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