AN ACCIDENTAL SPORTSWRITER

A MEMOIR

TV contributor, biographer, veteran sportswriter and young adult novelist Lipsyte (Center Field, 2010, etc.) revisits key events in his life, the sporting world, the lives of professional athletes and the evolving cultural significance of sports in America.

The author begins with an account of how he stumbled into journalism, landing a copyboy job with the New York Times not long after graduating from Columbia University. He had a skeptical eye practically from the beginning. As a chubby schoolboy, he had endured harassment from jocks. “I was,” he writes, “a fat kid trapped at the bottom of the masculinity chart.” His remarks about the Times, scattered throughout, range from grateful to caustic (he has only ill to say of Howell Raines). But he acknowledges some mentors, too, principally Gay Talese and Howard Cosell. He charts the vicissitudes of his relationships with some athletic legends, among them Muhammad Ali, Mickey Mantle (he praises Jane Leavy’s 2010 The Last Boy), Joe DiMaggio and Billy Jean King. However, Lipsyte doesn’t focus entirely on athletic celebrities. He provides sections on lacrosse players on the New York Onondaga Indian reservation and on Gerard Papa (a youth-basketball pioneer), and he talks about two huge stories he started, then abandoned for various reasons: the drug investigations that became the story behind The French Connection and the life of David Berkowitz (the “Son of Sam” murderer). The author also tells about his experiences with NASCAR and cycling, and he writes sensitively about women in sports and about the emergence of openly gay athletes. He reserves his harshest criticism for his sports-writing colleagues, many of whom he views as little more than dim cheerleaders. Though frank about his struggles with cancer, Lipsyte bobs and weaves about other aspects of his personal life (three marriages ended for reasons unrevealed) and ends with a moving tribute to his late father. At times a bit detached for a memoir, but packed with bright, biting insights about America’s obsessions with athletics.

 

Pub Date: May 3, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-176913-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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