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March 15, 2017 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 Sports Fiction
It was a very good year for sports fiction—and a very diverse one, too, encompassing a quintessential guy novel about a fishing contest, a Faulknerian epic about horse racing, and the noirish coming-of-age of a teen gymnast. The titles below were reviewed between September 1, 2015, and August 2016. —Bill Ott
The Annual Big Arsenic Fishing Contest. By John Nichols. 2016. Univ. of New Mexico, $24.95 (9780826357205).
Yes, it’s a book about fishing, but it’s really about three writers who gather each year to bond over books and trout. A delightfully digressive tale of camaraderie, nature, and aging machismo.
Bucky F*cking Dent. By David Duchovny. 2016. Farrar, $26 (9780374110420).
Actor Duchovny’s debut novel is a charming, fable-like tale, set in 1978, about a peanut vendor at Yankee Stadium and his dying father, a passionate Red Sox fan. An appealing mix of baseball, humor, and lovable losers.
Champion of the World. By Chad Dundas. 2016. Putnam, $27 (9780399176081).
In this debut novel set in the world of early twentieth-century professional wrestling, Dundas tells the rambunctious tale of a disgraced, former lightweight champion of the world attempting to finagle his way back to the big time.
Chicago. By Brian Doyle. 2016. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne, $25.96 (9781250061997).
A young college graduate moves to Chicago and explores the city, bonding with others in his neighborhood over the White Sox as they drive toward a pennant. An entertaining coming-of-age tale wrapped in a love letter to Chicago.
Don’t Tell Me You’re Afraid. By Giuseppe Catozella. Tr. by Anne Milano Appel. 2016. Penguin, $27 (9781594206412).
Based on a true story, this gripping first-person narrative tells how, in the face of poverty and repression, a young Somali woman follows her dream of becoming an Olympic distance runner.
Home Field. By Hannah Gersen. 2016. Morrow, $14.95 (9780062413741).
An acclaimed high-school football coach deals with his wife’s suicide in this powerful story of one man’s effort to find a new kind of strength—the emotional depth to support his grieving children.
Legend of Jesse Smoke. By Robert Bausch. 2016. Bloomsbury, $26 (9781632863973).
A female quarterback in the NFL? Around this surprising premise, Bausch spins a tale probing the way America’s most popular and most violent sport defines—but could dramatically change—gender attitudes.
The Sport of Kings. By C. E. Morgan. 2016. Farrar, $27 (9780374281083).
Don’t give this sprawling, multigenerational Faulknerian epic about a Kentucky horse-racing family to just any punter—it’s long and dense, but it’s also audacious, intelligent, and undeniably powerful.
The Throwback Special. By Chris Bachelder. 2016. Norton, $25.95 (9780393249460).
This is a book about men, 22 of them, who gather every year to reenact the grotesque football injury suffered when Redskins’ quarterback Joe Theismann was tackled by Giants’ linebacker Lawrence Taylor. An unlikely premise produces a surprisingly enjoyable, even poignant novel.
You Will Know Me. By Megan Abbott. 2016. Little, Brown, $26 (9780316231084).
This dazzling story of a gymnastics prodigy dissects the dark, beating heart behind a teen’s coming-of-age. Vivid, troubling, and powerful—and Abbott totally sticks the landing.
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