THE LAST MAGIC SUMMER by Peter Gent

THE LAST MAGIC SUMMER

A Season with My Son
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 This poignant if occasionally rambling memoir is a curious departure for Gent, who is known primarily for his rowdy novels of sporting world disclosure (North Dallas Forty, 1973; North Dallas After Forty, 1989; etc.). Until the early '80s, former pro footballer Gent admittedly had it all: a successful writing career, a stately Texas ranch, a lovely wife and adorable, perceptive six-year-old son named Carter. One day in 1983, however, that all changed when Gent's wife (whom the author refers to only as ``she'' or ``Carter's mother'') announced she was leaving and taking everything--joint accounts, cars, house, and property. The separation, divorce, and ensuing custody battle (which Gent won) are recounted in excruciating detail. Now destitute, Gent moved back home to the rust belt agrarian hamlet of Bangor, Mich., a town where ``the Fonz woulda got his ass stomped by every farm kid.'' Carter grew into an accomplished athlete. And Gent reached for ``the only analgesia . . . to mitigate the damage'' caused by his troubles: supporting and sharing his son's love for baseball. Coaching Carter's AABC Connie Mack league team (age group 1618), Gent became both reacquainted with his sporting career--a bittersweet reconciliation, given that his body, battered by football, was constantly racked with pain-- and better acquainted with his son. But despite the frequent depictions of both Carter's childhood antics and his ball club's valiant struggles against better-funded, more talented opposition, this folksy and dour book is essentially Gent's mid-life memoir. Frequently touching, this is too often hamstrung by sentimental and self-conscious commentary, a curious and somewhat hollow story coming from a middle-age man best known for his ``take-no-prisoners'' approach to sports writing, who, like many before him, is forced at once to take stock of his life and confront mortality.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-688-13365-7
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1996