A sequel explores love, sex, and basketball.
This new novel from Ashe (Toogoodoo Dreaming, 2014) continues the story of Edward “Skip” Walker, an African-American born and raised in the South Carolina low country and the first person to coach a Historically Black College or University in the NCAA Final Four. In this tale, Skip narrates his own story and stresses to readers that he is only half of a winning personal team. His wife, Veronica Louise Browning Walker, is a major character here, a prominent arbitration attorney who inspires some of the tale’s headiest stylistic riffs: “My wife loves nothing more than weaving around town at high speed making deals a cellphone tucked between her ear and a shoulder a laptop nearby probably plugged into the onboard computer in expensive little hard to drive sports cars when taking care of business.” The book also features Skip’s children, including his wards Romulus and Remus, and photo illustrations by the author. In addition, there’s a pronounced erotic thread running throughout the narrative when dealing with the husband and wife at the center of things. (Skip and Veronica are, suffice to say, very happily married.) But the most powerful and successfully executed parts of the story revolve around the author’s gritty, weirdly eloquent, and unfailingly thrilling depictions of the world of big-time college basketball—the coaches and athletic directors, the money people and fans, and especially the players. Although occasionally sloppy (there are some distracting typos throughout, including “EXORSIST” and “GODESS”), the narrative is thick with jazzy dialogue and sparkling character descriptions. Skip varies the sports talk with generous and often very funny digressions about his extended circle of family and friends. And all along, there’s the dream of victory, which is rendered with excitement but no sentimentality. “It’s an immensely beautiful and magical thing to sit back and watch your future unfold right before your eyes,” Skip reflects at one point. Readers should certainly feel that kind of momentum in these pages.
A raucous, off-kilter, and sometimes steamy tale about personal triumphs on and off the basketball court.