21 March 2008

I always liked the phrase "March Madness."

Where does the time go? It seemed like I passed this week either doing things too dull to blog about, or conversely too interesting and off-limits to cover. One of the distractors I can name, though, is the start of the NCAA "March Madness" men's basketball tournament. I hardly ever watch men's basketball, but this is probably the sixth year I've done a bracket -- and, maybe coincidentally, have never finished higher than sixth in any pool.

Still, hope springs eternal and I'll be anxiously checking my scores like everyone else. I tried to come up with a basketball-themed book I had read in the past that really made an impression on me, but the only thing I could think of was a terrible play we read and acted out in fifth grade drama class called "Choosing Sides for Basketball." It's not really about basketball -- it's about four kids waiting to get picked for a team, but cutaways reveal they have all sorts of Big Important Problems which need to be Discussed. I played someone's mom.

Anyway, I hated fifth grade, so if you have a better basketball book to recommend, go in for the lay-up. (Er, leave a comment.) My two favorite sports books, for what it's worth, are FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (which I've mentioned before in conjunction with the TV adaptation), about high school football, and John Feinstein's HARD COURTS, about professional tennis on the 1990 tour. This was part of my first exposure to creative nonfiction and I read it a few times -- I'll never forget the opening scene in which John MacEnroe is about to be ejected from a game. In terms of the players, the book is quite dated now -- this was when Sampras and Capriati were just starting out -- but the descriptions are still as vivid. Interestingly, Slate's very funny article about teams they love to hate faulted Feinstein's basketball book THE LAST AMATEURS, about American University -- a book I had on my to-read list but am contemplating taking off after their takedown.

1 comment:

Sycorax Pine said...

I too am TOTALLY engrossed in March Madness (it helps that I am a huge Tar Heel fan). Last year at this time I was reading Feinstein's book on the Final Four, "Last Dance," which I really enjoyed (despite the very damning account of him at the Slate article you link to!). This year I am reading "To Hate Like This is to Be Happy Forever" by Will Blythe, which I am also finding very entertaining, although I am not sure whether someone not engrossed in the Duke-Carolina rivalry that is the book's subject would have the same experience. Although I have been watching the Heels for ten years now, I wouldn't say that I am (ahem) actually that knowledgeable about basketball as a sport, and both books are pitched so that they are very engrossing for both readers like me (who approach the sport as a drama of characters rather than a set of skills and rules) and friends who are much more informed about the nitty-gritty of the game.