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Bowling Across America: 50 States in Rented Shoes Hardcover – October 28, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (October 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312366191
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312366193
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,418,986 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After Walsh's father dies in the middle of a handball game, the young advertising executive quits his job to follow a variant on one of the old man's dreams by bowling at least once in all 50 states. (Walsh tried to add the District of Columbia to the list, but the White House wasn't keen on letting him roll in its basement lanes.) Walsh's story has a string of amusing moments—he loses a game against a blind man, has failed romantic encounters in three different states and almost misses his last game because of a stubborn car rental clerk—but lacks dramatic tension. From the moment he sets out in the car his mother lends him, Walsh's ability to complete his mission is never in doubt; as soon as he mentions the possibility of a sponsorship from a beer company, readers can safely assume he'll close the deal—which simply means he spends most of the trip drinking their beer. It's a clever enough story, but apart from some self-deprecating quips about how women (like his ex-girlfriend) don't really go for unemployed nomads, readers looking for a transformative life lesson will have to look elsewhere. (Oct. 30)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

When his father died, the author, an advertising executive, made a decision that, on its surface, seems, well . . . foolish. His father, you see, always had this dream of playing handball in all 50 states, and Walsh wanted to honor the man by embarking on his own quest, to bowl his way from one state to another. So he quit his job, borrowed his mother’s car, and set out on the road, full of enthusiasm but lacking any real idea of how he was going to support himself. This very entertaining book tells two stories, both of them about the same man: the story of an adventurous guy who just wants to have some fun, and the story of a tireless self-promoter who talks his way onto radio and television shows, newspaper interviews, and major-league sponsorships. Along the way he meets a variety of people, each of whom offers a distinctive slice of life, and (of course) he discovers a few surprising things about himself. Charming, funny, and sometimes heartwarming. --David Pitt

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 10 customer reviews
This is a fabulous book and it will keep you laughing.
Jeanne Koehl
Instead, I got a delightful book, full of humor, about discovering one's identity and uncovering what is truly valuable in life.
Alexander Bopp
You'll LOVE "Bowling 50 States In Rented Shoes Across America"!
Rustys Mama

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By B. Koth on November 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is the true story of a man who does what many in their late 20's always dream about, wander with a purpose. The author is a man in his late 20s, several years into the grind of life, who experiences the death of his father. This leads him to analyze his own life and is the catalyst for an adventure his father first started but was interrupted by life (work, family etc.) Walsh's dry wit and insights keeps the narrative moving along and is what separates this from a standard tale of a "quarter life crisis." I laughed out loud on a dozen different occasions.

"Bowling..." does a wonderful job capturing the angst, dilemmas and sources of happiness that is so typical of that segment of life. Walsh does a masterful job weaving in past experiences into the present that paints a wonderful self-portrait and offers the reader ample opportunity to relate. Scattered throughout are some wonderful insights on bowling, life, family and relationships. This is a great read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By D. R. Morgan on December 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
An enjoyable and amusing book about the author's road trip to bowl in all 50 states, inspired by his recently-deceased father's goal to play handball in all 50 states. Written in a very funny, conversational style, we tag along on visits to bowling alleys ranging from a classy Manhattan one with a $20 cover charge and a bouncer, to dark, smoky dumps in seedy neighborhoods. At each alley, we are introduced to the characters who work there, and the colorful patrons Walsh engages in conversation. En route, he stays with just about any acquaintance who can provide him with a bed (or floor) for the night, from former bosses and classmates to friends of friends. His hosts for the night can be as quirky as the bowlers he meets, and plenty of partying and beer consumption occur. Walsh quit his job as an advertising executive to take this trip and write about it, and I hope that he has found a new calling as an author--it would be a shame not to read more from him.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Debra Turner on December 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a great read. I laughed out loud from beginning to end, even though there were moments of seriousness in the book, the fun experiences and Mike Walsh's ability to convey the humor was terrific. Great for mature audiences due to some bad language.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Most other book club members did not waste their time finishing this book, but I did. I expected at least a small epiphany but it was the same dreary story till the end. At first there was some humor, but after awhile, the drunken nights and cheap bowling alleys took their toll on me. The writing was boring as well. I did like the Buckin' Beaver bar story!
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By WDX2BB on May 27, 2014
Format: Hardcover
A book about bowling and travel? How could it miss?

That's the story presented by Mike Walsh in "Bowling Across America." He's one of the few people to bowl in all 50 states, and lived to write a book about it.

Walsh was a little frustrated at his job and a little down about the death of his father, who had an unofficial and unattained goal of playing handball in 50 states when he died. Eventually son Mike quit his job, "borrowed" his mother's car, and hit the road. He even picked up a sponsor shortly after he started, living the High Life along the way. Indeed, it wouldn't be bowling for some without beer, and Walsh did his part.

There are some stories about media interviews as well as personal relationships. But basically this comes down to travel and bowling. Walsh sees the part of America that is still hanging out at the local lanes, and proves to be good at chatting them up. It's an interesting subculture if you'll pardon the academic tone. And it's a big country, although the author/driver/bowler doesn't do a great deal of sightseeing. Those looking for deep themes about fathers and sons probably can find better books on that area elsewhere. No matter.

By the way, Walsh went on the trip in 2002-03, I believe, and didn't get it published until 2008. Still, it's nice that it doesn't really date 11 years or so after the trip. Bowling, it seems remains timeless in some ways.

This all reminded me of the book, "The Great Typo Hunt." Two friends sailed through the interstates in search of typographical errors. "Bowling Across America" goes by quite quickly, as Walsh proves to be good company. Those with something of an interest in the two themes will find this, ahem, right up their alley.
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