Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Book Review: Longshot, by Lance Allred

It's not often that a national publishing company contacts me to review one of their new titles; in this case, it was the HarperOne division of HarperCollins that sent me this review copy. I agreed to review Lance Allred's memoir Longshot: The Adventures of a Deaf Fundamentalist Mormon Kid and His Journey to the NBA mainly because I'm rather fascinated by polygamy and anything related to Mormonism, especially when it's published by a non-Mormon national company. However, I probably never would have purchased this book on my own, because its main focus points appeared to be basketball and the NBA, which don't interest me much.

In the end, I don't regret the time I put into reading the book, although I got my fill in 250 pages and wouldn't have wanted more. Overall, it's a pretty quick, entertaining read, and I enjoyed Allred's youthful, somewhat goofy voice, even when he overreaches or is otherwise uneven as a writer. I told myself that I would skim or skip the sports-related parts, but I found myself sticking with the story of Allred's twists and turns in the worlds of college basketball and the NBA minor leagues. I was surprised how negative the publisher let Allred be about the verbally abusive University of Utah coach Rick Majerus and some other people, and the publisher allowed the author's own idiosyncratic prejudices and stereotyping to remain intact, which I think is overall good because it reflects the whole person rather than a sanitized, politically correct person.

While the editor did allow much of the author's voice and many quirky details and tangents to shine through, I saw several errors and typos and punctuation problems and imprecise expressions and weird literary misfires and wobbly attempts at humor that I would have fixed or maybe even deleted, if I were the editor. I liked the often-funny asterisked footnotes that the editor let him include, but I strongly disliked the sappy, cliched epilogue about following your dreams, blah, blah, blah. I found the climax quite moving when he finally got called up into the NBA after all he'd been through.

For such a short book, this memoir covers a lot of ground, from Allred's upbringing in the Rulon Allred polygamous group (Rulon was the author's grandfather) to fleeing that group along with his parents and siblings to facing hearing loss and OCD, including a form of OCD in which he feared he was gay even though he didn't apparently feel attracted to males. After reading his memoir, I found Lance Allred interesting enough to look up online, and I found that he lasted only a few weeks in the NBA and is now moving on to play pro basketball in Europe and write additional books. While uneven in places, the book is certainly not boring and is sometimes funny and inspiring, with plenty of personality.

1 comment:

Paul Burrows said...

Hey are you going to do a Comic-Con/San Diego report?