Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A football novel

Wherein The Specific Rule of Life: "Everybody is an exception to the General Rule."

I don't have much interest in football, though I kinda enjoy novels about football. One of my favorites -- one of my favorite books, period -- is The Franchise, by Peter Gent. He also wrote North Dallas 40, which I have not read.

One of the most bitter books I've read, its almost polemic in its anger and depiction of corruption and betrayal on every level. But there's also a decent love story, various levels of heroics and cowardice, all the levels of sadness, and a recipe for homemade napalm.

A couple of quotes.

"You know," Taylor began suddenly out of the quiet crackling of the oak and mesquite, "they have this show on television for old people. They give great advice for football players. I watch it a lot. The other night the subject was learning to cope with the death of your mate."

Wendy saw the sadness pass from eye to eye, then a smile turned up his mouth and Taylor laughed.

"It was too insane." He kept up the slight laugh." They had an expert guest, of course, and the expert told everybody to take time now while your mate is still alive and practice living alone. Sort of make a game of it, he advised; every time one leaves the house, the other pretends they are dead."

"Naww." Wendy began to laugh, "That's a lie...they wouldn't..."

"I swear, the expert said it. Practice living alone. The guy was an expert, this was television...Think about it...It makes sense."

"Maybe too much sense."

"Want me to close my eyes and hold my breath? Let you get the feel?"

"No!" Wendy was suddenly angry and hurt and frightened.

"Good. 'cause the expert is wrong," Taylor said, "I've been practicing living alone almost ten years. It does not get easier. All I get is increasingly numb."

After Cleveland's middle linebacker smashed Kimball's nose on ablitz, he called a time-out to let his line collect themselves and concentrate on the game. Blood running down his throat from the broken nose, Kimball stepped back and looked at the crowd. They caterwauled and snarled, barely in control, smelling blood, wanting more. Kimball decided he would drown them in it.

Kimball sniffed back blood, stepped in his huddle and plotted not victory but revenge. Texas reduced the Cleveland defense and offense and special teams to smoking ruins in less than three hours. The Pistols lost 3-0 but Cleveland never recovered.

The Long-Gone Gaggle
"...We need help this year! We have to win the Super Bowl this year."

"Too fast," Taylor said, "too fast."

"This race isn't all straightaway. We'll show our stuff in the curves."

"If we don't hit the wall or blow up or burn out."

"That's your problem, Taylor. It's what you wanted. I can lay it put, but you have to do it. You are the driver."

"Too fast, Red."

"It's the only way. This franchise won't hold together one more season."


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