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HOME AND AWAY

WRITING THE BEAUTIFUL GAME

Though the correspondence is mostly about soccer, it is also about so much more.

An epistolary exploration of soccer and life.

In 2014, the highly regarded Scandinavian writers Knausgaard (My Struggle: Book Five, 2016, etc.) and Ekelund exchanged letters during the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. This book is the result of their exchanges. (It seems clear that they planned to produce a book based on their correspondence). Ekelund was in Brazil, an almost home-away-from-home for him, while Knausgaard was home, mostly in his adopted Sweden. Both are acclaimed writers in their own region, with growing reputations internationally, especially Knausgaard and his bestselling autobiographical My Struggle novels. Both love soccer, and thus the sport and especially the World Cup provide the connecting line for these insightful and discursive letters that reflect not only on o jogo bonito but also on seemingly everything else under the sun. From gender politics to family, food to writing, love and loss, tragedy and triumph, thoughts of suicide and feelings of ecstasy, and from the mundane aspects of daily life to the things that make life worth living (sometimes these are one and the same), the authors cover vast swaths of the human experience while always returning to their differing perspectives on the soccer they witnessed in 2014. For readers willing to accept these letters on their own terms and go with the sometimes stream-of-consciousness ramblings of two men deeply committed to the writer’s art, the rewards are great. However, there may not be enough soccer for fans expecting a work focusing on the sport, and what strikes some readers as joyful perambulations with two thoughtful interlocutors may strike others as self-indulgent and meandering. But for those for whom these letters resonate, the effect is powerful and cascading, a pleasing waterfall of imagery and intellect.

Though the correspondence is mostly about soccer, it is also about so much more.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-374-27983-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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