In book form, Reilly's columns are an avalanche of small stones, hitting readers with trite observations and stale...

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TIGER, MEET MY SISTER…

AND OTHER THINGS I PROBABLY SHOULDN'T HAVE SAID

An acclaimed sportswriter presents a litany of gripes.

The subtitle of this collection of previously published essays by veteran sportswriter Reilly (Sports from Hell: My Search for the World's Dumbest Competition, 2010, etc.) tells readers what to expect: brash, rude opinions for which the writer does not apologize. The author, an ESPN.com columnist and 11-time national sportswriter of the year, occasionally writes uplifting stories about "People With Big Hearts" or "Tales of Strength" (two chapters in this book), but his stock in trade is quick-paced, topical humor columns for ESPN The Magazine, where his essays are a brief stop en route to something more substantial or entertaining. In large doses, his irreverent humor becomes mean-spirited and derisive. (Reilly's take on Caltech's men's basketball team’s breaking its 310-game losing streak is not a feel-good story.) The author’s complaint about the ponderous pace of major league baseball games showcases his typical hack work: He calls a three-hour-and-fourteen-minute Reds-Giants game in 2012 "can-somebody-please-stick-two-forks-in-my-eyes snore-a-palooza" and grouses, "I'd rather have watched eyebrows grow." In his column about Jason Collins coming out as a gay NBA player, Reilly describes players' fears of having a gay teammate as "paranoia in high tops." However, the author’s irritation is valid when he rebuts the tributes dozens of writers and news outlets heaped upon Al Davis, the controversial owner of the Oakland Raiders, following his death in 2011. Reilly's listing of the man's misdeeds and many examples of his disagreeable nature ("Yes, Al Davis believed in 'A Commitment to Excellence.' Yet he didn't demand it in himself") are honest and a relief from the hagiography about Davis in the press—not to mention from the author’s endless punning and tepid wordplay.

In book form, Reilly's columns are an avalanche of small stones, hitting readers with trite observations and stale one-liners.

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-17125-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Blue Rider Press

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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Effectively sobering. Suffice it to say that Pop Warner parents will want to armor their kids from head to toe upon reading...

CONCUSSION

A maddening, well-constructed tale of medical discovery and corporate coverup, set in morgues, laboratories, courtrooms, and football fields.

Nigeria-born Bennet Omalu is perhaps an unlikely hero, a medical doctor board-certified in four areas of pathology, “anatomic, clinical, forensic, and neuropathology,” and a well-rounded specialist in death. When his boss, celebrity examiner Cyril Wecht (“in the autopsy business, Wecht was a rock star”), got into trouble for various specimens of publicity-hound overreach, Omalu was there to offer patient, stoical support. The student did not surpass the teacher in flashiness, but Omalu was a rock star all his own in studying the brain to determine a cause of death. Laskas’ (Creative Writing/Univ. of Pittsburgh; Hidden America, 2012, etc.) main topic is the horrific injuries wrought to the brains and bodies of football players on the field. Omalu’s study of the unfortunate brain of Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Webster, who died in 2002 at 50 of a supposed heart attack, brought new attention to the trauma of concussion. Laskas trades in sportwriter-ese, all staccato delivery full of tough guyisms and sports clichés: “He had played for fifteen seasons, a warrior’s warrior; he played in more games—two hundred twenty—than any other player in Steelers history. Undersized, tough, a big, burly white guy—a Pittsburgh kind of guy—the heart of the best team in history.” A little of that goes a long way, but Laskas, a Pittsburgher who first wrote of Omalu and his studies in a story in GQ, does sturdy work in keeping up with a grim story that the NFL most definitely did not want to see aired—not in Omalu’s professional publications in medical journals, nor, reportedly, on the big screen in the Will Smith vehicle based on this book.

Effectively sobering. Suffice it to say that Pop Warner parents will want to armor their kids from head to toe upon reading it.

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8757-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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A broad and deep look at Japan’s medieval referents, and a capable illustration of a martial art form steeped in rich...

PERSIMMON WIND

A MARTIAL ARTIST'S JOURNEY IN JAPAN

A reflective and entertaining journey through Japan, as the author seeks to reconnect with his martial arts sensei.

Lowry is a student of koryu (not to be confused with kendo), a style of Japanese classical swordsmanship. Koryu is a medieval art, like Noh and the tea ceremony, a style of combat born on the battlefield–but more importantly, it’s a way to address the world (though an esoteric one: Lowry may well be the only American practicing the art in the United States). Indeed, present-day practitioners refrain from exercising its fatal possibilities. Lowry’s sensei left the U.S. to return to Japan, urging Lowry to follow. Though his life headed in a different direction, he never forgot his training–when the time was ripe, he journeyed to Japan to join his sensei. The narrative revolves around this pivotal decision, and it provides a warm center from which the author expounds on such topics as the glories of a Japanese bath; the evolution of the Samurai caste; the peculiarities of Japanese landscape architecture; the elements of proper sandal-tying; the custom of the premarital shenanigans called yobai; and the teachings of mikkyo Buddhism. He also includes the vital story of the sword–what it reveals about Japanese life and technology, social structure and aesthetic values, etiquette, apprenticeship and the process of education. Lowry’s seriousness lends an earnest cast to the proceedings, but he’s not without a sense of humor–commenting upon his accomplished slurping of noodles, a friend’s wife notes, “He really sucks!”

A broad and deep look at Japan’s medieval referents, and a capable illustration of a martial art form steeped in rich tradition.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2005

ISBN: 1-890536-10-5

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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