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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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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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