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Playing the Moldovans at Tennis Paperback – November 9, 2002

4.3 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The follow-up to British comedian Hawks's Round Ireland with a Fridge (a chronicle of his efforts to make good on a liquor-sodden wager to hitchhike Ireland with a refrigerator in tow) employs a similarly ridiculous premise. While watching a football game between Moldova and England, Hawks, an ex-junior-tennis-champion, and his friend argue the importance of technique in sportsmanship. The conversation culminates in a ridiculous bet; Hawks must beat the Moldovan football team at tennis, or else strip naked in a London street and sing the Moldovan anthem. What follows is an oddball travelogue spanning Moldova, Northern Ireland and Israel as Hawks tracks down and plays each team member. Hawks, who admits to knowing nothing about Moldova, offers few insights about the country; his socioeconomic and cultural observations lean toward the superficial. However, Hawks offers plenty of easy laughs (mostly at his own expense) as he brazenly and good-naturedly takes on local bureaucrats, would-be capitalists and seemingly insurmountable language barriers in pursuit of an admittedly pointless goal. "Things can be done," Hawks notes as he gears up for the journey. "The people in life who get them done are the ones who know that, and the ones who don't are the rest." Noting his reliance on the kindness of others, Hawks engages in a social experiment, demonstrating the willingness of strangers to help another achieve even the most whimsical of goals.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In Round Ireland with a Fridge, Hawks, England's answer to Dave Barry, bet his friend that he could carry a small refrigerator around Ireland while hitchhiking. And he won. Now it seems that he drank too much again and made another outrageous bet with his buddy. This time he wagered that he could play and beat each member of the Moldovan soccer team at tennis. The loser must sing the Moldovan national anthem naked, of course. In order to win this bet, he first had to establish the location of Moldova (formerly a member state of the USSR), contact the Moldovan football team, and be invited into the country by a native on special official letterhead. Oddly enough, his adventure begins at the International Beatles Week in Liverpool, to which he finagles an invitation from inside Moldova. Soon thereafter, Hawks travels the remote country trying to find the team, with a side trip to deliver a round table to King Arthur (the newest King of the Gypsies). But I'm not telling who sings nude! This is a hilarious, quirky book. As long as you don't allow yourself to get hung up by a few obscure British references, it may be one of the funniest books you have ever read. Highly recommended. Sandy Knowles, Henderson Cty. P.L., NC
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (November 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312305184
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312305185
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,295,649 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Having just traveled through Moldova on a cycling trip through Eastern Europe, I was fortunate enough to have the chance to read this whilst staying at the one and only hostel in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova.

Tony's bet and ensuing journey make for laugh-out-loud, can't put it down reading. The funniest part it, having seen the country first hand, how remarkably accurate his circumstances and plights are - and similar to many situations I found myself in (though I didn't actually play any tennis whilst there).

The fact Tony takes the bet so seriously and ends up traveling to Israel to complete it speaks volumes for Tony's determination to stick to his guns. His writing, whilst entirely amusing, always is serious and reflective in parts, and balances the entire novel out. There is no question that Tony's travels to Moldova change him as he learns and experiences a part of the world so little know about.

This is a great read for anyone who plans to go or who has been to Moldova, to look back and laugh tongue-in-cheek at the wonderful way of life these people live - or to make you more excited to visit this country totally void of tourists. And if you get the chance to visit Transdnistria - do so - it is one of the single most amazing places in the world...

Tony - 5 stars mate - keep up the great writing; I look forward to your next novel: Across Antarctica with a Pogo Stick.

And if you are looking for that hostel, go to 'marisha dot net'.
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By A Customer on March 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I am a moldovan, so I probably got the most laugh out of this book. Me as a Moldovan, I was amazed of where Tony has been, and the people he met. There are places where even i wouldn't dare to got, but I have to give 5 stars to Tony because of the way he formulated his adventure and put it in a book. Sometimes I laughted so hard that tears came from my eyes. Tony made a bet with his friend that he(Tony) would track all the players from the Moldova's national football team and beat them at tennis one by one. And whoever loses the bet will have to strip naked in London and sing the Moldova's national anthem. God, I wished I was in London and see (the one that lost) sing my country's national anthem. It's really fun and entertaining!
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Format: Hardcover
British comedian Tony Hawks doesn't seem to be able to have a conversation without getting into some fantastic bet. His last book recounted his journey, on a dare, to travel "Round Ireland With a Fridge." One of my favorite travel memoirs of the past few years, "Round Ireland" combined outrageous humor with an affectionate portrait of Ireland and her people. His newest, "Playing the Moldovans at Tennis," follows the same path: challenged by his friend Arthur that he can't beat the entire Moldovan national football team at tennis, Tony immediately jets to the tiny Balkan country and is met with frustration at every turn to even get a chance to set foot on a tennis court. Since the loser of the bet strips naked and sings the Moldovan national anthem in public, he doesn't dare lose, but the incredibly different customs of Moldova are against him from Day One. Red tape, diplomacy, and the language barrier rise up to block his success, but for every pushy, arrogant football team manager he comes across there's a dozen friendly, supportive, and helpful journalists, fixers, and everyday folks who are intrigued by and helpful with Tony's seemingly mad quest.
While not as fascinating as "Round Ireland," (there's less of travel interest here to the casual reader), Hawks brings his usual humor punctuated by moments of hilarious despair, and the ending even has a twist that couldn't have been written more cleverly if it had been in a Hollywood movie. In the end it's a gentle and affectionate portrait of the Moldovans, a people and country I knew nothing about before this book. More important, Tony himself sums up the real result of his offbeat quest as *not* the chance to avoid singing starkers outside a London pub, but inspiring a young Moldovan man who, pessimistic at the first, comes to realize a silly impossible pursuit is just as worth doing as a dull everyday task.
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Format: Hardcover
An enjoyable book, like a Bill Bryson book with a basic plot and some human relationships. A British comedian bet that he'd play tennis with every member of a Moldovan international foootball/soccer team he saw play in Britain, and win. And why not?
He knows nothing about Moldova (it's somewhere between Romania and the Ukraine) but he's an optimist, so he gets the most basic of leads and off he goes on his 6-month quest.
It's a mix of an appreciation/travelogue of this emerging, poor country (think Albania with a few nightclubs but no streetlights at night) with a good appreciation of its people (pleasant but whose history has made them fatalistic) and his connection with a generous family who let him in. He can't play against all the footballers there and to complete his bet he needs to visit Northern Ireland for an international football match and a quirky interlude. And then the final footballer has transferred an Israel football club...
I enjoyed it. Hawks gives a good account of his own ups and downs on his 6-month mission, and the interactions with the Moldovans and others brighten his tale.
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