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Sports Guy: In Search of Corkball, Warroad Hockey, Hooters Golf, Tiger Woods, and the Big, Big Game Paperback – December 26, 2000

4.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A self-described "rummager and scuffler" among sportswriters, Charles Pierce displays his drive to illuminate the nooks and crannies of the American sporting life in this collection of 30 essays. "My own personal America," he writes, "comes with six seconds left, and the home teamAanybody's home teamAwith the ball and trailing by a point or a goal." Pierce admits to having little regard for the celebrity profiles he has included, because, for him, they pale alongside the tales in which context plays as vital a role as does the subject. He's right: essays on Tiger Woods and Shaquille O'Neal fall flat alongside the moving soliloquies and hearth-and-home portraits making up the rest of the book (his tale of the corkball leagues of St. Louis is particularly endearing). He avoids the two demons currently plaguing sports dialogue: sentimentality and the indictment of athletes as the sole agents of sedition in sport. Attending a game during Tiger Stadium's final season, Pierce notes that he has no attachment to aging concrete, despite hailing from Boston, "where ballparks... find themselves afflicted with talismanic characteristics, as though they were concrete Kennedys." Ten years after the Seoul Olympics, he wonders aloud how Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson's steroid use made him a villain, while Mark McGwire's made him a hero. One wonders, in fact, why these fluff pieces were included at all, since they tend to work at cross purposes with Pierce's thesis: "Big games are not about trophies and banners.... [M]emories are at stake, entire lifetimes of them." Pierce's finely detailed pieces should resonate with any sports fan who has watched in desperate agony as his team succumbs to inadequacy, and who knows the passionate optimism that springs when the season starts anew. (Jan.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Pierce is a weekly commentator on National Public Radio noted for his humorous sports writing and for last year's Hard To Forget: An Alzheimer's Story. This book is a collection of sports pieces he has previously published in Esquire, GQ, and the New York Times Magazine. Pierce is at his best when exploring offbeat topics like those noted in the subtitleDcorkball, smalltown hockey, professional athlete jewelry, the Hooters Golf Tour, and so on. However, even in more conventional profiles of nationally famous figures like Tiger Woods or Larry Bird, he has a real talent for finding a unique angle from which to approach his subject. The writing is regularly engaging and, despite the sports focus, sprinkled with offhand liberal political commentary. This book has a place in any general sports collection.DJohn Maxymuk, Rutgers Univ. Lib., Camden
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (December 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306810050
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306810053
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,370,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

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I love Charlie Pierce. I bought his book "Idiot America" years ago and loved it. I read his blog in Esquire Magazine daily. It was nice to find another book of his. I'm and old lady who isn't particularly interested in sports so I did like "Idiot America" more. You should try one.
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By A Customer on May 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
I am a fan of the game behind the game when it comes to sports. I do like to watch the games, but what I find really interesting is stories of the individuals and the stories about what happens off the field. That is why I have thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Pierce's book.
I believe the reason sports fascinates us so much is not do to the game but the people who play the game, and how the "game" effects the rest of the world. Mr. Pierce provides that much-needed insight into sorts. He pushes beyond the box scores to bring reader to the heart of sports.
In this collection there is a wide range of topics and sports covered, each with Pierce's attention to detail and sharp wit. He goes from the back roads to the inner offices to find the stories behind the sports. He handles each subject with care, and though he may not handle each person or more appropriately ego with care it is done only to breathe reality into the Hollywood and marketing of sports.
Pierce has a writing style that is refreshing and each piece has its own flavor. Sitting down with his book is almost like sitting down with a collection of different authors. While Piece does have his own style he does not let that interfere with writing the story they way it needs to be written. He does not try to shoe horn events or people into his style instead he lets his subjects pick the tone and the pace, and he adds the frame and the lighting for us to better understand them.
But please do not take my comments about Pierce style to mean that his work is heady or inaccessible. In fact its quite the opposite, after all this is a man who likes to sit in the bleachers with a paper cup of beer in his hand and cheer loudly for the home team. Instead I offered my comments to point out that this book is not just for sports fan, but also for people who enjoy stories.
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Format: Paperback
Charlie Pierce has been writing about sports for about a quarter-century, and Sports Guy anthologizes some of his work of the past 10 years. Lots of sportswriters would like you to think they are essayists and that they are writing not about athletics, but about life and its profundities. However, boxing and food and travel and history and war correspondent A.J. Liebling is dead, so Pierce has the center ring to himself.
There are 30 pieces here. Take one a day, save some for your flight delay, or read them all at once. Here are some favorites:
"Soul on Ice," where Pierce's sentences swoop like chittering bats in the soft night to scoop up another tasty adjective, only to halt in mid-air for the kill: "Community is virtually lost to sports today. A team does not rise within a city. It is laid upon it ..." Plus the history of the Ojibwe.
"The Snake-Handling Pole Vaulter," which is every bit as funny and quirky and charming as the title, until the end.
The racism in the distinction between "smart" ball player and the one with "natural ability," and how Larry Bird and Magic Johnson messed with this.
And how Magic Johnson sentenced Earvin Johnson to exile and possibly to early death.
"The Man. Amen" is notorious, and important, and not funny. It is the Tiger Woods piece, where Pierce ripped the façade of sainthood off the golfer. This chapter should carry a graphic-language disclaimer. And for that very reason, every journalism student should read it.
Other celebrity interviews include Allen Iverson, Shaquille O'Neal, and Deion Sanders. Even better are the talks with the unknowns: Bob Marley's son the linebacker. Wolfman the lottery-winning traveling wrestler.
Read more ›
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By A Customer on March 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
I am a fan of the game behind the game when it comes to sports. I do like to watch the games, but what I find really interesting is stories of the individuals and the stories about what happens off the field. That is why I have thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Pierce's book.
I believe the reason sports fascinates us so much is not do to the game but the people who play the game, and how the "game" effects the rest of the world. Mr. Pierce provides that much-needed insight into sorts. He pushes beyond the box scores to bring reader to the heart of sports.
In this collection there is a wide range of topics and sports covered, each with Pierce's attention to detail and sharp wit. He goes from the back roads to the inner offices to find the stories behind the sports. He handles each subject with care, and though he may not handle each person or more appropriately ego with care it is done only to breathe reality into the Hollywood and marketing of sports.
Pierce has a writing style that is refreshing and each piece has its own flavor. Sitting down with his book is almost like sitting down with a collection of different authors. While Piece does have his own style he does let that interfere with writing the story they way it needs to be written. He does try to shoe horn events or people into his style instead he lets his subjects pick the tone and the pace, and he adds the frame and the lighting for us to better understand them.
But please do not take my comments about Pierce style to mean that his work is heady or inaccessible. In fact its quite the opposite, after all this is a man who likes to sit in the bleachers with a paper cup of beer in his hand and cheer loudly for the home team. Instead I offered my comments to point out that this book is not just for sports fan, but also for people who enjoy stories.
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