A sports journalist scores a smooth three-pointer with her debut memoir.
King grew up in rural Arkansas, where there were no “flute lessons or gymnastics,” so she spent her time wading in her grandparents’ pond and shooting hoops in the driveway with her brother. Still, she didn’t give basketball much thought until, at age 27, she moved to Chicago to take a job at a natural foods company. After a few months in the big city, she joined a basketball league, mostly to stave off restless loneliness. And so begins a meditation on baskets and life. Basketball takes King through her years in the big city and back home to the Natural State. When she hits her mid-30s and decides she’s too old to play pickup ball with teenage boys, she begins coaching fourth-grade girls. At the close, she’s teaching her two-year-old son to appreciate the game. King’s gentle self-deprecation makes her a lovable narrator, with her cool humor a plus throughout: her first job was “unremarkable,” she says, but it was a pretty big deal for a girl whose parents “married at nineteen, quickly had two babies, and spent the next twenty years recovering.” (See also the love scene with a satyr, too detailed to adequately summarize, but really funny). King’s episodic text has too many vignettes and not enough narrative; a little more glue between basketball musings and a tad more about her life would have better held the book together and maintained the reader’s interest. But her poetic prose, as rhythmic as a dribble, will carry readers wherever she goes.
If Alexander Wolff and Anne Lamott teamed up, they might slam-dunk something like this—but King did it all by herself.