An engaging memoir explores football and fandom.

Farewell to Football?


A debut book offers a personal and literary inquiry into the role of football in one man’s life and in American society.

“Why has football been such a big deal in my life, and in the lives of so many?” Liparulo asks in this volume. “Will I have to confess to the sin of football idolatry?” If such a confession is necessary, he certainly won’t be making it alone: the NFL is a $9 billion industry in the U.S., and the college-level network of teams is a sprawling moneymaker for schools all across the country. Liparulo often reminds his readers that “fan” is short for “fanatic,” and in America, there’s no sport that highlights that connection quite like football. But the sport isn’t Liparulo’s first idolatry; in richly observed, intensely satisfying chapters of personal recollection, he reflects on his years growing up listening to Tom Petty, Led Zeppelin, the Doobie Brothers, and Blue Oyster Cult and confesses that “rock and roll became my first religion.” Throughout his book, his narrative veers between these autobiographical chapters and more philosophical sections reflecting on the sport of football as seen through the prism of a handful of iconic games. He tells the story of his life: the friends of his youth in upstate New York, their fledgling attempts at forming rock bands of their own, his classes at Binghamton University, his ROTC experiences and service as an infantry officer in 1980s South Korea, his later teaching career. These vivid recollections are suffused with his love of literature; quotes from the Bible and Milton’s Paradise Lost are littered throughout the text (this may be the only football memoir to include multiple allusions to Michel Foucault). But the story keeps returning to football, “the big lie at the heart of the American dream,” with all its growing problems, including the harsh realities for players with brain injuries sustained on the field, a scandal that has thousands of plaintiffs pursuing legal action against the NFL. Liparulo blends all this professional and personal material with an easy, literate skill that should appeal even to nonfans.

An engaging memoir explores football and fandom.

Pub Date: June 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5308-5581-0

Page Count: 362

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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


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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