Author Neal Pollack
Things You Might Like
- Sharp wit
- Old school basketball
- Jews playing an actual sport!
- Dastardly Nazis
- A trip to Harlem
Things You Might Not Like
- Nazis might be a bit too dastardly?
You may have been watching the Olympics. If you have, then you probably know that the U.S. got gold in basketball. As well as, well, let’s be honest, winning the whole thing.
It’s really not fair because the only other country that plays basketball even a quarter as well as we do is Russia. And that’s only when they’re not completely smashed on vodka.
Of course, the basketball we know today is very different from the bread in Neal Pollack’s Jewball. That sort of basketball was a gentleman’s sport, where the Irish, the blacks, and the Jews were the best, because the WASPs were too scared to leave their precious baseball diamonds to head to the courts.
Jewball follows the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association, a Jewish basketball team, as it finds itself in the precarious position of being under the debt of the local Bund, the American brand of National Socialism.
Told from the viewpoint of Inky Lautman, one of the point guards for the SPHA, and occasional muscle for the Bund, the book weaves in the history of basketball with sharp wit, questionable moral decisions, and enough stabbings and gang violence to fill up a Guy Ritchie movie.
It’s a very enjoyable read with little to detract from its quality Pollack’s writing follows the incredibly important rule of not being the star of the story, letting the characters fill that role. Ranging from Philly to Manhattan to Harlem to Chicago to Minneapolis, the book’s pace is fast, but not so much that you feel like you’re missing out on important character development.
While there’s a lot of comedy in the book, it’s not a comedy. It’s a sports book at the heart of it, but a sports story more on par with Major League than Rudy. (Which is a good thing. Watch Rudy too many times and you’ll develop diabetes from the extreme cheesiness and uber-saccharine ending.) And the good thing is, like Major League, you don’t have to know anything about basketball to enjoy the book.
So, what else can I say about the book? It’s a sporty, less ornate version of Michael Chabon. If you’re looking for negatives, I’d say you’ll have a hard time finding any. The most I could say is that the characters curse a bit too much to be nice Jewish boys, and that the Nazis are a bit too dastardly. (Of course, they’re fucking Nazis. Good luck finding one of them who’s warm and fuzzy inside.)
Buy, Rent, or Pirate? Make your mother happy and buy this book on Amazon now. (NOTE: Bullet Reviews does not condone piracy. If you pirate media, you’ll get a visit from the Bund.
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