WINNING THE CITY by Theodore Weesner


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Fifteen-year-old Dale Wheeler has his heart set on playing in the city basketball championships, a tournament of club-teams rather than school-teams. He has a sweet shot and owns dazzling moves, and so can't quite believe it himself when he finds that he's not even been chosen to be on the team his junior-high friends have assembled. He's been bumped in favor of the two untalented sons of the rich man who is sponsoring the team--and thus does Dale learn for the first time about the tough breaks of life, their class dimensions. Dale's father is an auto worker, an alcoholic, divorced, but so far he has kept Dale from the ""hillbilly"" or wrong-side-of-the-tracks life-style and identification. Now Dale must go to those ""hillbilly"" boys for his salvation and society--all leading up to the climactic basketball game between the forsakers and the forsaken. Weesner, whose first novel, The Car Thief (1972), closely bearded an adolescent's construction of reality, does much the same here, in simple and broad strokes. The novel has an appropriately Judy-Blume-ish, aw-hell, muttering teen-age angst about it, but you sense that Weesner keeps hoping that it will become richer than that, more analytical of inequality and unfairness. It doesn't quite. Admirably focused and tight, but there's somewhat less here than meets the eye.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1990
Publisher: Summit/Simon & Schuster