A funny, exuberantly plotted tennis and conspiracy novel from Cootsona.
This sequel to Slammin’ (2014, etc.) centers on Wally Wilson, a 59-year-old tennis teaching pro who won the 2011 U.S. Open due to some unusual circumstances, including an unbeatable serve, some international intrigue, and a disqualification. The story begins in 2013 with him and his wife, Danielle, on their way to a college tour for their son, Deuce, who would rather be a professional magician than go to school. Their van breaks down on the highway, which unexpectedly leads to Wally playing in an exhibition tournament. He eventually gets a spot on the U.S. team for the Davis Cup international team-tennis competition. Wally owes his spot on the team to Ashley Margincall, a 19-year-old billionaire who bought and revamped the Davis Cup competition and built a sports complex in Nebraska for Cup competitions in other sports, as well, including soccer, golf, and horse racing. If that wasn’t offbeat enough, it gets stranger: a set of shady characters are breaking into homes and meticulously cleaning and organizing them as they search for a lost Breughel painting that’s been forged tons of times. The plot, involving tennis and art fakes, is reminiscent of David Foster Wallace’s or William Gaddis’ work, but its biggest homage is to Thomas Pynchon: there are oddly named characters, such as Deeplee Arqane and S. Carrom Ouche; wacky locales, such as the Uncertainty of Causation Bar, full of Scottish philosophy buffs; conspiracies that may or may not exist; and puns galore, with much being made of the Davis Cup being called the “D-Cup.” Cootsona’s writing is dialogue-heavy and full of pop-culture references, from celebrities to sports. However, the shtick sometimes wears thin, as almost all of the analogies and metaphors are based on such references. But although the plot and characters follow the mold of Pynchon and Wallace, Cootsona’s sentences rarely dazzle as theirs do—though that’s a tall task for anyone—and the work lacks the emotional depth that belies the zaniness of the best postmodern fiction. That being said, this book is still a fun, whip-smart tennis read.
An oddball but ultimately rewarding comedy.