A longtime sports columnist for the New York Times interweaves stories from his life and the events he covered to explore the relationships between the games we play and the lives we lead....
Growing up, Robert Lipsyte was the smart-aleck fat kid, the bully magnet who went to the library instead of the ballpark. As the perpetual outsider, even into adulthood, Lipsyte's alienation from Jock Culture made him a rarity in the press box: the sportswriter who wasn't a sports fan. This feeling of otherness has colored Lipsyte's sports writing for fifty years, much of it spent as a columnist for the New York Times. He didn't follow particular athletes or teams; he wasn't awed by the access afforded by his press pass or his familiarity with the players in the locker room. Between bouts at the Times, he launched a successful career writing young adult fiction, often about sports.
The experience and insight he earned over a half century infuse An Accidental Sportswriter. Going beyond the usual memoir, Lipsyte has written "a memory loop, a circular search for lost or forgotten pieces in the puzzle of a life." In telling his own story, he grapples with American sports and society - from Mickey Mantle to Bill Simmons - arguing that Jock Culture has seeped into our business, politics, and family life, and its definitions have become the standard to measure value. Full of wisdom and an understanding of American sports that contextualizes rather than celebrates athletes, An Accidental Sportswriter is the crowning achievement of a rich career and a book that will speak to us for years to come.
I am not a sports fan, but I loved this book. The memories that Lipsyte presents, in such a charming and personal way, make the listening thought provoking and enjoyable. Some of the celebrities he highlights, like Mickey Mantle and Dick Gregory, are best known to baby boomers. Throughout the book, however, Lipsyte brings these folks and their egos and fame into play around relevant and present day issues. His chapter on steroids in sports--then and now--is poignant and humane in part because he presents the users and the issues through the prism of his own continuous use of hormones since cancer surgery decades ago. The chapters of the book can be read in any order, making the book an easy read for a commuter or someone working out. Most are a little more than 30 minutes each. Lipsyte's reading of his own work brings an intimacy to the experience that one rarely finds in books about our heros and anti-heros.
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