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 Southern radio personality Keith's first novel, the story of a college football player, makes some charming feints and rolls, but fumbles the ball for a loss in yardage. Corinthians Phillipians McKay is born in Tallapoosa, Georgia, sometime between the 29th and 30th of September; the doctor flips a coin to determine his date of birth. This coin toss resonates as a young C.P. receives two gifts he refuses to decide between: a football and a set of encyclopedias. He memorizes the books one by one and plays with the football in a yard that ends with a sheer drop off a cliffthe spot from which his mother tosses teenage C.P.'s Down's Syndrome infant brother ``to the angels.'' On the same day, C.P. stands up to his alcoholic gambler father, skulling him with volume 11 of the Book of Knowledge. As C.P. grows, he exhibits immense prowess as a defensive back, a writer, and poet. Recruited by a number of schools, he eventually falls for the beguiling con of coach Tad Rankin at Sparta University. The novel's energetic prose shines in the Sparta football sequences, and C.P. makes some wonderful moves on the fieldand a few off, with fellow classmate Maggie Vinyardthat will have the adolescent in most readers cheering. But Maggie is not the only one who wants something from C.P.: His literature professor wants to sleep with him; his father, still gambling, wants the inside track on the games; Sparta's president saddles him with the university's financial future, Rankin with the team's bowl game future; and a cartoonishly sinister bookie threatens the lack of any future at all. Ultimately, C.P. bows to none of this pressure, foolishly believing that he controls his own destiny. The football sequences in this novel as are good as any written, but a clumsy start and a wincingly bad end leave the book buried deep in its own end zone.

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 1995
ISBN: 0-312-13497-5
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1995


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