by Chris Bachelder
narrated by R.C. Bray
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Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Genre: Sports, Literary Fiction
Hardback: 224 pages
November 18, 1985 - Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann, 36, suffers a career-ending compound fracture of the right leg on a sack by New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor during a telecast of ABC's Monday Night Football.
2016 National Book Award Finalist in Fiction
Winner of the Paris Review's 2016 Terry Southern Prize for Humor
A slyly profound and startlingly original novel about the psyche of the American male, The Throwback Special marks the return of one of the most acclaimed literary voices of his generation.
Here is the absorbing story of twenty-two men who gather every fall to painstakingly reenact what ESPN called “the most shocking play in NFL history” and the Washington Redskins dubbed the “Throwback Special”: the November 1985 play in which the Redskins’ Joe Theismann had his leg horribly broken by Lawrence Taylor of the New York Giants live on Monday Night Football.
With wit and great empathy, Chris Bachelder introduces us to Charles, a psychologist whose expertise is in high demand; George, a garrulous public librarian; Fat Michael, envied and despised by the others for being exquisitely fit; Jeff, a recently divorced man who has become a theorist of marriage; and many more. Over the course of a weekend, the men reveal their secret hopes, fears, and passions as they choose roles, spend a long night of the soul preparing for the play, and finally enact their bizarre ritual for what may be the last time. Along the way, mishaps, misunderstandings, and grievances pile up, and the comforting traditions holding the group together threaten to give way.
The Throwback Special is a moving and comic tale filled with pitch-perfect observations about manhood, marriage, middle age, and the rituals we all enact as part of being alive.
Not normally my cup of tea, which is why I like to read the Tournament of Books selection. Gets me reading good stuff that I would not come across on my own.
This story gave me a sense of a football fandom that gets into reenactments, specifically an NFL play that involves a horrible injury. Being a part of a couple fandoms myself, I get it. Get how one can totally immerse themselves into that world to derive pleasure.
I found this to be a very male oriented story that presents male bonding in the context of football.
Got me thinking of the annual office fantasy football ritual that comes around.
* Listened to audiobook version.
* part of Tournament of Books 2017 (here)