RUDE BEHAVIOR by Dan Jenkins


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The veteran sportswriter rounds up his gang from Semi-Tough (1972) and Life on Its Ownself (1984) for a crassly funny, cynical, but ultimately endearing nod at professional football. This time out, former New York Giants Superbowl winner Billy Clyde Puckett puts together his very own NFL team and takes them to the Superbowl. Jenkins’s latest roman-Ö-clef is really about growing old. Back in his hometown of Fort Worth, where men are men (unless they’re gay “shirtlifters”) and where women are “rack-loaded wool drivers” (unless they’re “mature”), Puckett defiantly smokes Marlboros and knocks back on the booze in a woebegone little bar called He’s Not Here, as he contemplates football’s pointless afterlife. Most people no longer recognize him; he’s bored with giving motivational speeches to CEOs; and his stint as a TV sports commentator was too silly to endure. Now his wife, sexpot movie star Barbara Jane Bookman, has gone to Switzerland to film a stupid movie directed by Billy Clyde’s best friend, Shake Tiller; T.J. Lambert, here a college football coach, is stoically bailing his brainless players out of jail; and sportswriter buddy Jim Tom Pinch is still picking up young bimbos. But just as Puckett’s bleary eyes are beginning to wander toward the —mature— silhouette of bartender Kelly Sue Woodley, Puckett’s billionaire “bidnessman” father-in-law Big Ed Bookman gives him a blank check so he can find a town (code-name: Big Food), build a stadium, sign up players, and otherwise invent the West Texas Tornadoes. Puckett goes at the task over infinite quantities of booze and food. But despite false starts, phony injuries, bad calls, and dumb fumbles, the West Texas Tornadoes make it to the Superbowl, where they prove that winning is a matter of making the best of what little you can call yours. A coarse mix of good ol’ boy put-downs, below-the-belt slurs, sports gossip, and aw-shucks sentimentality can’t mask the sadness in this tale of men building monuments to their former glory. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-385-47000-2
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1998


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