A meditative memoir of a son, 60, and father, 95, bonding over college football.
As a strategist for the 2012 Mitt Romney campaign, veteran political consultant Stevens (The Big Enchilada: Campaign Adventures with the Cockeyed Optimists from Texas Who Won the Biggest Prize in Politics, 2001, etc.) felt so devastated by Romney’s loss that he had no idea what he might do next. “When was the last time I’d been really happy?” he asked himself. “What was it I really cared about in life?” Family and football, it turns out, would provide the key, allowing the man for whom the fall had become campaign season to revisit the boyhood when Saturday games with his father had been the highlights of his life. The result is an elliptical, evocative narrative that has ambitions beyond his scope, as the author’s accounts of the actual games with his spry and beloved father are just signposts in his story. It’s when he digs deeper into memory—about the civil rights clashes when he was coming of age with Ole Miss football and how his parents provided such a sterling example for racial equality—that this book about Saturdays with Dad is more than another stop-and-smell-the-roses, Tuesdays with Morrie–esque heart-tugger. Stevens explores his “complicated relationship with my Mississippi identity” and his ambivalence toward the racial privilege that allowed him to achieve his ambitions and toward those whose identity in the North was that of “ ‘professional southerners,’ those living in New York who tried to define themselves by some pretense that they came from a more genteel and cultured world.” What has remained undiminished is his love for football, for his father (and his mother, even with her Barack Obama bumper sticker), and for the time they have left together to enjoy the Ole Miss football experience that defined his boyhood.
An affecting tale showing that you can go back home again.