From Publishers Weekly
The title of this collection of reportage by a contributor to Esquire and The Village Voice (and a son of former HarperCollins senior editor Ted), suggests that an ironic, detached commentary a la Didion will bring the pieces together, and a hint of such emerges in Solotaroff's description of a Staten Island neighborhood ("I look out the back window, smelling rubber, WD-40, and steaks burning in the backyard"). The lack of any coherent pattern linking subjects ranging from trick-bike riders to Mark Gastineau is okay for a while, as Solotaroff's meticulously researched material and self-effacing, guy-next-door demeanor propel his writing (as when "some imp of the perverse" compels Solotaroff to try to block a shot of a street basketball legend, resulting in a slam dunk and a rejoinder: "Let that be a lesson to you.") He hits his stride in "The Regulars," as he chronicles the antics of rabid Yankee fans like Ali Ramirez who "hammers out an eight-beat salsa rhythm" on a cowbell when he feels a Yankee hit coming. Still, by the time readers reach the piece on Charles Manson's followers, coming as it does on the heels of a report on Bobby Fischer's chess championship in Montenegro, they may be feeling a bit bewildered.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
A striking debut collection from a journalist whose articles for the Village Voice and Esquire portray people--some famous, some obscure--hovering somewhere around the edges of pop culture. In Reno, Nevada, on the trail of the heavy-metal band Judas Priest, whose albums allegedly caused the suicide attempts of two very troubled teens, Solotaroff captures the weirdness of this metastasizing ``town for losers'' and the leather-clad bandmen who love golf more than Satan. In the Yankee Stadium bleachers, he finds cheery, beery, foul-mouthed fans who tell macho stories of sports bonding. On a Yugoslavian island of Sveti Stefan for the renegade chess ``championship'' between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky, he concludes that the surrounding war--the ``anarchy of freak individualism run amok''--absolutely fits Bobby Fischer's chess history. Trailing ex-footballer Mark Gastineau as he chases elusive glory in boxing, Solotaroff finds an overbearing stage father. He poignantly probes the lost dreams of playground hoops legend Earl Manigault, whose few personal effects include a dog- eared notebook and a photocopy of his Hollywood film option. He observes legendary musician James Brown, in perpetual trouble with the law, manically referring to himself in the third person--it sounds like ``Jamebrown''--amidst ``global/biblical self- pronouncements'' not entirely without foundation. A few short pieces--on the subculture of trick bikers, cracked-up comedian Charlie Barnett, and toilet-head comic Andrew Dice Clay--could use some more depth but are still arresting. Despite the unfortunate subtitle, a collection full of powerful descriptions and memorable moments. Ivan is the son of Ted Solotaroff, literary critic and former Harper editor. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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