A Few Seconds of Panic is a fast-paced mix of all-American male fantasy, fear, guilty pleasure and gentle stab of "might have been" - while offering more laughs per page than any sports book in years.
While the plot involves Fatsis improving his kicking to the point of non-embarrassment as part of the Denver Broncos, the deeper stories revolve around issues of belonging and achieving, of men proving themselves to themselves, and of the sacrifices we are willing to make to have done something extraordinary.
While Fatsis endures initiation and a brutal training regimen, humiliating public failures and private doubts, the book isn't really about him. Rather, we see through his sharp and empathetic eyes the arc of young lives enriched and betrayed by a business that masquerades as a game.
I'm reading the book AS Fatsis - imagining myself in his (size 6 1/2) shoes, taking a ribbing from my teammates, being ordered to sing my college fight song in the locker room, facing intense performance anxiety, and worst of all - getting into a jacuzzi filled with 47 degree water for 15 minutes.
That's only fitting, since the central theme of the book is how we men measure ourselves, against other men, against great tasks, against pain, and against fate itself.
What are my Few Seconds of Panic?
My takeaway, several weeks after finishing the book, is a series of questions:
What glorious, outrageous claim to greatness have I not dared to dream?
What self-imposed rules have kept me on the sidelines?
What fears of ridicule by the "in-crowd," in whatever setting, have limned my ambition?
So thank you, Stefan, for bolding going into the breach and paving the way for this reader, at least, to look for my own Few Seconds of Panic.
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