“I am not the ideal reader for this book but I became the ideal reader. I didn’t think I could read essays about basketball because I do not play the game. I read it to hear Brian Doyle’s voice, which is one of the most distinctive voices in nonfiction. I read it to learn, against my will, what a hook shot is, how to box someone out, and what a pick is. I read this book with the hope and the recognition that the big stories exist in the small stories and that paying attention to and remembering the details is what amounts to the big stuff. As a writing lesson and a life lesson, Hoop completes a generous pass.”
—Nicole Walker, coeditor of Bending the Genre: Essays on Creative Nonfiction
Brian Doyle himself explains it best: “A few years ago I was moaning to my wry gentle dad that basketball, which seems to me inarguably the most graceful and generous and swift and fluid and ferociously-competitive-without-being-sociopathic of sports, has not produced rafts of good books, like baseball and golf and cricket and surfing have . . . Where are the great basketball novels to rival The Natural and the glorious Mark Harris baseball quartet and the great Bernard Darwin’s golf stories? Where are the annual anthologies of terrific basketball essays? How can a game full of such wit and creativity and magic not spark more great books?”
“‘Why don’t you write one?’ said my dad, who is great at cutting politely to the chase.”
And so he has. In this collection of short essays, Brian Doyle presents a compelling account of a life lived playing, watching, loving, and coaching basketball. He recounts his passion for the gyms, the playgrounds, the sounds and scents, the camaraderie, the fierce competition, the anticipation and exhaustion, and even some of the injuries.
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