Although not Super Bowl material, this novel is nevertheless a winner: a fun, breezy read that even lukewarm football fans...

Driftwood

A veteran football player seeks to overcome the odds and lead his team to a championship.

In his first novel for adults, Bentley (No More Hiccups!, 1995, etc.) takes readers through a season with the Buffalo Blizzard, a pro football team down on its luck. The protagonist, Jack Driftwood, a 17-year veteran linebacker, hopes to end his career in glory by propelling the team to the Mega Bowl. Play-by-play accounts of regular and postseason games alternate with chapters delving into Driftwood’s personal and business affairs. He meets Gerry Wainscott, gorgeous daughter of the team’s elderly owner, Gerald Wainscott III, and becomes her lover. But the Blizzard’s general manager, Donald Fegel, desires her too, and hates Driftwood anyway. Scheming to kick this “renegade linebacker” off the team, Fegel bribes a male nurse, aka the Pissman, to doctor results of a random urine test. Enraged at the skullduggery, Driftwood attacks Fegel but is subdued by security guards and sent to a mental hospital for observation. But it turns out Fegel has been skimming money from the construction funds for the Blizzard’s new stadium and an adjoining Native American casino. Driftwood’s wacky friends, including an overweight Buffalo cop, a Seneca tribe member, a restaurant owner from Mexico, and a few shady local underworld types, unite, seeking to expose Fegel, do in his associates, and break Driftwood out of the hospital. Bentley, a former NFL player, shows an insider’s knowledge and love of the game, and gives vivid descriptions of brutal play on and off the field and the quirky, foulmouthed characters in Driftwood’s life. The dialogue is sharp and the wit often acute, but Bentley makes some rookie mistakes. Spell-check hasn’t fixed all his missteps with spelling and word use, such as “teaming” for “teeming.” And the clichés come fast and furious, but seldom with the sharpness that’s needed: “She smoked like a chimney, cussed like a sailor, and drank like a fish but was as healthy as a horse.” Despite all of its humor and big doses of testosterone, violence, and physical and emotional pain, the tale can occasionally become strangely mawkish, as in a Gipper-esque appearance in the locker room by the Blizzard’s sickly owner.

Although not Super Bowl material, this novel is nevertheless a winner: a fun, breezy read that even lukewarm football fans might cheer.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-943706-00-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Five Count Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2016

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS

This is good Hemingway. It has some of the tenderness of A Farewell to Arms and some of its amazing power to make one feel inside the picture of a nation at war, of the people experiencing war shorn of its glamor, of the emotions that the effects of war — rather than war itself — arouse. But in style and tempo and impact, there is greater resemblance to The Sun Also Rises. Implicit in the characters and the story is the whole tragic lesson of Spain's Civil War, proving ground for today's holocaust, and carrying in its small compass, the contradictions, the human frailties, the heroism and idealism and shortcomings. In retrospect the thread of the story itself is slight. Three days, during which time a young American, a professor who has taken his Sabbatical year from the University of Montana to play his part in the struggle for Loyalist Spain and democracy. He is sent to a guerilla camp of partisans within the Fascist lines to blow up a strategic bridge. His is a complex problem in humanity, a group of undisciplined, unorganized natives, emotionally geared to go their own way, while he has a job that demands unreasoning, unwavering obedience. He falls in love with a lovely refugee girl, escaping the terrors of a fascist imprisonment, and their romance is sharply etched against a gruesome background. It is a searing book; Hemingway has done more to dramatize the Spanish War than any amount of abstract declamation. Yet he has done it through revealing the pettinesses, the indignities, the jealousies, the cruelties on both sides, never glorifying simply presenting starkly the belief in the principles for which these people fought a hopeless war, to give the rest of the world an interval to prepare. There is something of the implacable logic of Verdun in the telling. It's not a book for the thin-skinned; it has more than its fill of obscenities and the style is clipped and almost too elliptical for clarity at times. But it is a book that repays one for bleak moments of unpleasantness.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1940

ISBN: 0684803356

Page Count: 484

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1940

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