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SLOT MACHINE by Chris Lynch


by Chris Lynch

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 1995
ISBN: 0-06-023584-5
Publisher: HarperCollins

Lynch (Gypsy Davey, 1994, etc.) lightens up in this story of three teenagers sent to camp at a seminary, ostensibly to prepare for high school. To his dismay, Elvin and two friends discover that it's a thinly disguised sports camp, designed to give the school's athletic program an illegal jump-start. Overweight, Elvin is immediately assigned to the football sector, which is a bone-crunching disaster. He quickly descends the hierarchy, a washout in baseball, wrestling, and even golf. Elvin tells the tale in an ironic, slightly detached tone that can be hilarious (``They gave us an hour after dinner to either barf it up or keep it down. I figured it was one of those trial-by-fire things that would make men out of us'') but doesn't conceal the fact that all three friends face serious testing. Ultimately, Elvin winds up at the place no one has mentioned previously—the arts sector, run by a friendly crew of seminarians. It's a revelation, and Elvin, inspired and reassured by a reading of Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, finds an agreeable slot, one he's actually had all along—that of the the interested observer. A change of pace for the author, this still features sports action both hilarious and horrifying (sometimes at once), a slightly larger-than-life cast, and penetrating observation of adults and young adults. (Fiction. 12+)