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The Whore of Akron Paperback – November 15, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

Review

“A powerful storyteller in full command of his game...wonderfully immoderate.” (New York Times)

“There is more passion, anger and sublime writing in Scott Raab’s The Whore of Akron than any 50 other books you’ll read this (or any other year) combined.” (New York Post)

“The book is both poem and polemic, a lyrical inventory of rage and appetite and loss.” (Jeff MacGregor, ESPN.com )

“[A] pleasure to read. Raab is an inspired, energetic writer. . . . . The Whore of Akron is a poignant exploration of sports fandom. It’s insane. . . . . And it’s also redeeming. . . . . After reading The Whore of Akron, you’ll be hard pressed to think sports don’t matter.” (Time)

“[The Whore of Akron] is very funny. It is also wise...If you’ve a taste for the sort of overstatement Raab shares with the late, great Hunter S. Thompson, this is perhaps the sports book for you. Keep it on a shelf the kids can’t reach.” (NPR)

“A (very heated) Fan’s Notes. . . . . Rollicking and profane. . . . . Raab’s sustained attack on James is diverting, [but] it is the author’s self-portrait of a man and a fan of serious extremes, one who loves his wife and son as fiercely as he hates most of the rest of the world, that engrosses.” (Sports Illustrated)

“[A] splenetic wonder…For all of its rousing, air-clearing invective, The Whore of Akron is strangely celebratory, making a particuclarly Jewish-American case for family and place, and for waiting and hoping past the point of reason.” (Will Blythe, New York Magazine)

“In pursuing James pre- and post-‘Decision’ . . . . the author never does complete the subtitle’s mission to find James’ soul. Instead, Raab . . . . discovers his own. And, in some twisted sense, maybe ours, too.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

The Whore of Akron is hilarious, heartfelt and wincingly honest. This is the best kind of book, one that surprises.” (Buzz Bissinger )

“With all due respect to Frederick Exley, Scott Raab has just written the smartest, funniest, most passionate, loving, hateful, bathetic, honest, and deeply personal sports jeremiad slash memoir of our time…The Whore of Akron is about a basketball player the way Moby-Dick is about a whale.” (Stefan Fatsis, author of Wordfreak and A Few Seconds of Panic)

“Mr. Raab sure-footedly turns his monolithic hatred for Mr. James and devotion to Cleveland into a vehicle for exploring his struggles with drugs and alcohol, the mental illness and abandonment that have haunted his family, questions of faith and Jewish identity and the joy of fatherhood.” (Wall Street Journal)

The Whore of Akron isn’t really about basketball. It’s about addiction and sobriety, marriage and divorce, childhood and parenthood, loyalty and autonomy.” (The Awl.com)

“A searing manifesto that is impressively pointed and, in the end, even feels fair—not balanced, of course, but justified. . . . . Whether you’re convinced [of LeBron’s treachery] depends not on whether you care about Cleveland sports, but if you care about sports at all. . . . . Hilarious invective and smart commentary.” (Fortune)

“Hilarious.” (Christian Science Monitor)

“A hilarious and profane love letter to fandom, faith, loyalty, and sports in America.” (Parade)

“Genius. . . . . Raab is Hunter S. Thompson, Wolfe, and Breslin; every bit as messed up, alienated, angry, bitchy, cruel, and angelic. . . . . The Whore of Akron is a masterpiece.” (Dan Klores, Huffington Post )

“A modern-day Portnoy’s Complaint. Standing in for the piece of liver is LeBron James.” (Slate)

“As far as I know, a LeBron James is a hat worn by men in the 1920s.” (Philip Roth)

“Indelicate and unhinged...The Whore of Akron soars because Raab is unflinchingly honest, naked with emotions and embarrassments most of us keep penned inside.....at its heart, this is a book about loyalty, and why attachments count. Basketball could use a little more of Raab’s disorderly passion.” (Jason Gay, Wall Street Journal)

The Whore of Akron reads like Frederick Exley’s A Fan’s Notes on brown acid. Raab is a bastard, but he’s a funny bastard.” (The Onion)

From the Back Cover

"If there was an opportunity for me to return to Cleveland and those fans welcomed me back, that'd be a great story."—Lebron James

Scott Raab is a last vestige of Gonzo Journalism in an era when sanitary decorum reigns. Crude but warmhearted, poetic but raving, Raab has chronicled—at GQ and Esquire—everything from nights out with the likes of Tupac and Mickey Rourke to a moral investigation into Holocaust death-camp guard Ivan the Terrible to the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site, but the book you hold in your hands is neither a story nor a job: The Whore of Akron is the product of lifelong suffering, and a mission bound with the meaning of existence.

Raab sat in the lower bowl of Cleveland Stadium on December 27, 1964, when the Browns defeated the Colts for the NFL World Championship—the last sports title the declining city has won. He still carries his ticket stub wherever he goes, safely tucked within a Ziploc bag. The glory of that triumph is an easy thing to forget—each generation born in Cleveland is another generation removed from that victory; an entire fan base "whose daily bread has forever tasted of ash."

LeBron James was supposed to change all that. A native son of Akron, he was already world famous by the age of seventeen, had already graced the cover of Sports Illustrated, was already worth $90 million to Nike. He seemed like a miracle heaven-sent by God to transform Cleveland's losing ways. That the Cavaliers drafted him, the hometown prodigy, with the first pick of the 2003 draft, seemed nothing short of destiny. But after seven years—and still no parade down Euclid Avenue—he left. And he left in a way that seemed designed to twist the knife: announcing his move to South Beach on a nationally televised ESPN production with a sly title ("The Decision") that echoed fifty years of Cleveland sports futility.

Out of James's treachery grew a monster. Raab, a fifty-nine-year-old, 350-pound, Jewish Santa Claus with a Chief Wahoo tattoo, would bear witness to LeBron's every move, and in doing so would act as the eyes and ears of Cleveland itself. (He did not keep this intentions a secret and was promptly banned by the Miami Heat.)

The Whore of Akron is an indictment of a traitorous athlete and the story of Raab's hilarious, profane (and profound) quest to reveal the "wee jewel-box" of LeBron James's very soul.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 302 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (November 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062066366
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062066367
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.9 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #706,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Scott Raab, a Writer-at-Large for Esquire since 1997, is a graduate of Cleveland State University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. His work has been widely anthologized in the Best American Sports Writing, among others. Born and bred in Cleveland, he now lives in Glen Ridge, New Jersey.

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 30 people found the following review helpful By MrD on December 30, 2011
Format: Paperback
I bought this through the Android market on my tab, and was pretty excited about reading it. Being both a sports nut and a LeBron hater, this seemed to be right up my alley.

However, it wasn't what I expected (or hoped) it would be. Scott Raab, the author, should instead have named it "Fat Jewish Guy, featuring LeBron James." The reason I say this, is because he never misses an opportunity to remind the reader that he is, indeed, fat and Jewish. He constantly mentions these things so often it actually becomes pretty annoying. A large portion of the book seems to cover exactly that subject throughout. Frankly, who cares? Not me, but thanks for the info and incessant reminders, Mr. Raab. Oh, but he also mentions LeBron James occasionally, too.

I did enjoy some aspects of it. I liked reading some of the 'behind-the-scenes' encounters with athletes, owners, etc. Of course, I enjoyed the LeBron-bashing as well but, as another reviewer stated, the book is less about LeBron and more about Cleveland and its long-suffering sports fans.

While entertaining in some aspects, and despite Raab's constant vulgarity -- seemingly with a great effort to actually BE as vulgar as possible -- this book was a very big disappointment. I don't care about how much the author weighs, I don't care how his wife gives him tugs when he's down (His son must really enjoy reading about these little stories, by the way -- Nice work there too, Mr. Raab) and I certainly don't care to hear these things over and over and over -- and then over again.

Take my thoughts here with a grain of salt, as I know many others have enjoyed this one thoroughly, but as for me, I feel like I wasted my money, and the author wasted my time.
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32 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Christine L. on November 17, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have been waiting for this book for months and was not disappointed. Mr. Raab's writing style is funny, clever, self deprecating and on the money. He accurately portrays what it is like to be a Clevelander and how, even if we may leave Ohio, being from Cleveland is who we are down to our soul, and always will be. I think the way he describes his feelings and views about what it's like to be a Clevelander is just as important to this book as any of the LeBron stuff. I found myself agreeing with everything he said and even wrote down some quotes that really struck a cord with me. As for the LeBron stuff, I think he was again on the money. No where did Mr. Raab disregard LeBron's athletic skills, he freely admits LBJ is one of the best, if not the best, basketball player he has ever seen. I think the important thing to take from this book is that being a remarkable athlete doesn't make you a good human being. LeBron can score 80 points a game, win every MVP title, win multiple rings and it still won't make him a person with good character and morals. LeBron being from the Cleveland area and coming to our Cavs to ideally bring us our first championship in generations was the stuff movies are made of. Hometown boy becomes hero, immortalized forever as the one who broke the "curse", he understands our torment, he IS us. You couldn't write a better script. Then he did the unthinkable and did it in such a cruel, heartless way that it stunned us. No way could OUR hero, our native son turn his back on us in such a way, it's just not possible... I think Mr. Raab truly captures how we felt and yes, still feel to this day. I'm thankful that Mr Raab wrote this book and gave all of us in the Cleveland area a voice. Highly recommend, just not to Ohio people, but anyone who wants a funny, introspective and interesting read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By ellison on September 17, 2012
Format: Paperback
As it is unauthorized the information contained herein is akin to watching a TV being filmed--from a distance. The author shares his ethnicity, his hair color and dimensions as well as his drug-influenced past and that he is on his second wife and that he had a difficult childhood, oh, and he grew-up in Cleveland, having left 25 years prior.

The Lebron part of the story begins with the Cavs collapse against Orlando. From there Cleveland trades for Shaquille O'Neal to try to get a championship before Lebron is a free-agent. They play and try and lose, so they fire the coach. There is interesting talk that Lebron only signed a three year extension instead of say seven years and the owner says maybe he should have just let him go then. (But they got three more years of $!)

So, ESPN does 'The Decision' and Lebron goes to Miami. So, the author decideds to stalk him to Miami. He did actually meet Lebron one time in the locker room and tell Lebron that Lebron is 'The Best'. Lebron says "Thanks." Stintilating.

There is some kind of dream-like sequence I guess where the author thinks he is having a discussion with Lebron, though it could be due to the meds he is taking. He does have a foul response to Lebron on Twitter (A load of bad language) that causes him to be no longer welcome to receive a press pass in Miami. So, he has to buy a ticket if he wants to see a game, and does so on-line from Heat season ticket holders. He is also watching games of Cleveland as they stumble horribly and the Heat on TV.

Then the Heat fall to Dallas. The author does locate the bakery that makes cakes for Lebron and interviews a barber. A brisk read, had thought it would contain something. Does have a couple of good insights on the human condition, a lot of whining also.
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