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Kick the Balls: An Offensive Suburban Odyssey Hardcover – June 12, 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Black's sardonic view of suburban America and his propensity for saying the wrong thing to the wrong people may remind some of a Scottish Larry David, but this San Francisco writer and pub manager possesses a distinct voice and an aggressive passion for soccer: "Earth wasn't pigskin shaped, all the skeptics had to do was look at the heavens and see what God's game was... the perfect immaculate conception of our fertile earth was the soccer ball, soft and hard at the same time, delightfully floated, spinning with atmosphere and promise." Black ties in memories of childhood fandom in Glasgow with tales of coaching the eight-year-old Dragons, his son among them, managing bar and watching late night TV with his ice cream, Ben and Jerry ("I grabbed Ben and Jerry and marched them to the sofa"). Merrily skewering every target in sight (especially soccer moms: "The field was a big womb and their babies were in there kicking"), Black includes lots of fantasy, funny nicknames and fake articles from an imaginary newsletter, "The Sporting Green." Any suburbanite with kids in organized sports will find Black a riot, provided they aren't easily offended; readers may actually learn some new swear words.
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Review

"Savagely hilarious."
-Po Bronson, author of What Should I Do with My Life?

"Any suburbanite with kids in organized sports will find Black a riot."
-Publishers Weekly --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Hudson Street Press (June 12, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159463047X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594630477
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,362,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I was a kid in the 1970s, they said in the future soccer would become massively popular in America and we would all use the metric system. Didn't happen. The metric system is pretty much only used to refer to illicit drugs, but almost every American kid in the suburbs plays in a soccer league at least once.

Alan Black's "Kick The Balls" is about his adventures coaching a kids' soccer league, yes. But it is much more. It's about Alan trying to assimilate into the American suburbs. And this is the super funny stuff. No one is safe from Black's barbs: TV preachers, kids, Dockers pants, parents, multiculturalism, the cult of the suburban lawn. Oh and it's not just a snarky hit piece on the easy target of suburban life, Black reserves his sharpest wit to mock himself: a cynical, uncomfortable, Scottish transplant to California. Recommended to anyone in need of a hearty jaundiced laugh at the world and themselves. Extra bonus funny (and insightful) if you are in the position of trying to cope with maintaining your identity and making new friends in a suburban, middle class, vanilla wasteland (i.e., if you're like this reviewer).
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Format: Hardcover
I saw this book at my local bookstore earlier today, and read the dustjacket description. I was delighted to see one of Bill Shankly's famous quotes, and started flipping through it. I read the first three chapters standing in the sports aisle, then bought it, took it home, and read it straight through. I enjoyed it immensely; the author's misanthropic tale of youth soccer is as hilarious (and, as the cover states, offensive) as it is heartwarming, as he tries to bring some level of discipline and success to a motley group of youngsters. As a huge fan of the game, it was very interesting to see an outsider's perspective on the little league culture in the United States, and a little bit validating to see the level of ridiculousness of it all exposed.

I highly recommend this book to fans of the beautiful game, as well as fans of a good laugh at the author's (and America's) expense.
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Format: Hardcover
This book starts out with great promise. There are points in it that literally had me laugh out loud. There are great annecdotes from Mr. Black's life growing up in Scotland. And he possesses a cynical, sarcastic sense of humor much like my own that I really clicked with.

For awhile it is actually quite a page-turner of a book, and very humorous. The problem with the book is on several fronts though. First off, there is absolutely no real look into the lives or views of anyone other than Mr. Black. Many of the kids are completely nameless throughout the book, and we know nothing of them at all.

But more than that lack of connection to the other characters is just that by the end of the book, everything is worn out and old and not so funny anymore. The jokes are essentially the same over and over. The results the same - off he goes to his 3 am appointment with Ben & Jerry's to mock the televangelists. The jokes get old and by the time they are repackaged for the 23rd time it loses some of it's humor.

Top that off with the largely dissapointing finish to the book - both the team's season, and Mr. Blacks conclusions and actions - and there just isn't much that can be said.

And finally I will say this ... I can laugh at myself and others. And I know that many parents are crazy about youth sports. But as someone who has coached youth sports for 14 years myself, I can say that if Mr. Black's actions were even a quarter of what he wrote, then he is a disgrace of a father and a person for the way he treated the kids and acted during the season.

In fact as I type that last paragraph I am wondering if I should not lower the rating more - but the humor prevents it, as it was good, at least early on, and the insights into his life growing up were really wonderful. Is the book worth a buy? Probably. But I'm glad that I merely borrowed it from the library, and I will not be adding it to my own personal library.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I wrote a review for this book on June 28 and now it's gone. In fact, there were a few reviews up here. Well, thanks to Google cache here's what I said:

When I was a kid in the 1970s, they said in the future soccer would become massively popular in America and we would all use the metric system. Didn't happen. The metric system is pretty much only used to refer to illicit drugs, but almost every American kid in the suburbs plays in a soccer league at least once.

Alan Black's "Kick The Balls" is about his adventures coaching a kids' soccer league, yes. But it is much more. It's about Alan trying to assimilate into the American suburbs. And this is the super funny stuff. No one is safe from Black's barbs: TV preachers, kids, Dockers pants, parents, multiculturalism, the cult of the suburban lawn. Oh and it's not just a snarky hit piece on the easy target of suburban life, Black reserves his sharpest wit to mock himself: a cynical, uncomfortable, Scottish transplant to California. Recommended to anyone in need of a hearty jaundiced laugh at the world and themselves. Extra bonus funny (and insightful) if you are in the position of trying to cope with maintaining your identity and making new friends in a suburban, middle class, vanilla wasteland (i.e., if you're like this reviewer).
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