Small Ball, Big Balls

29 Mar
Make it,Take it by Rus Bradburd

Make it,Take it by Rus Bradburd

As theories go, George Plimpton’s Small Ball theory of literature has held up pretty well since he pronounced it in 1992— it stated “that there seems to be a correlation between the standard of writing about a particular sport and the ball it utilizes — that the smaller the ball, the more formidable the literature.” As far as basketball goes,I am only aware of a couple of books that make the cut to literary excellence— Pete Axthelm’s The City Game and Forty Minutes of Hell: The Extraordinary Life of Nolan Richardson by Rus Bradburd.

I am told that the planet Earth is currently afflicted by something called March Madness and much attention is thereby focused on college round ball. Which is a propitious time to mention that Bradburd has a new novel Make it, Take it (Cinco Puntos Press) about which the Nation’s sports guy effuses:

Rus Bradburd has given us an original novel about college basketball that is compelling, unsettling, yet downright funny and sad at the same time. Make It, Take It is even better than his incisive non-fiction—and, frankly, that’s just not fair.”

Bradburd, who is also a professor at New Mexico State University knows what he is taking about, as you can judge below—

It should not go unsaid that Bradburd’s chronicle of the trials and tribulations of former National Championship coach Nolan Richardson is a book which has not been given it proper due. And if we are taking about big balls,Coach Nolan Richardson has them.

Currently reading Gulp by Mary Roach (WW Norton)

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3 Responses to “Small Ball, Big Balls”

  1. hdinin March 29, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

    Well, then, by Plympton’s theory, the best writing on sports would be about competitive marbles and, possibly, ping-pong. That’s a theory that “holds up pretty well?” If I were to admit it’s applicability to some limited degree, I might allow that this means some fine writing has been produced about golf. All in all, I don’t think so. Plympton, as he would have been the first to admit about so many things, was wrong. He knew how to attract attention, it’s true. And it was usually, as in this case, by being counter-intuitive.

    • robertbirnbaum March 29, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

      GP does argue that golf has a fi ne body of literature.Competitive marbles? The theory begnis to break down with tennis…

  2. robertbirnbaum March 29, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

    My buddy Steve Fagin offers an addendum to my short short list of Round ball classics— Halberstam on the Walton Trailblazers ,Tally’s Heaven is a Playground,Ryan’s 48 minutes on the Celtics and Charlie Rosen on early fifties NY basketball scandal

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