Tuesday, 29 November 2011

letter of note

I know you are eager to learn what I think of Pippa Middleton's advance, and I do have something lined up on that, but I just wanted to do this first.

Scott Raab has just written a book called The Whore of Akron. Its ostensible subject is a guy called LeBron James, the best basketballer of his generation, who played for his hometown Cleveland Indians, a long-suffering team whose passionate fans he constantly claimed to understand. Then he went to Miami to join a team of superstars, and he did it in a vulgar, self-serving way. Raab knows he's being unfair and his book is about being a sports fan.*

He asked two people for cover blurb: Buzz Bissinger, because Bissinger wrote Friday Night Lights (amazing book, passable film, very good television series) and Philip Roth, because he had just interviewed Roth and Roth is his hero. This, from Slate's Hang Up & Listen sports podcast, is Roth's reply:

Dear Scott,

You’re asking the wrong man to say something about your book. I was curiously incompetent at basketball as a boy, I have never followed basketball as an adult, and I know nothing about the teams or their players. I remember that Bill Bradley played for Princeton while I was teaching there, but otherwise, as far as I know, LeBron James is a hat worn by men in the 1920s.

Sorry to let you down, but you’ll do alright without me.

* Descriptions of how Raab analyses sport's place in his life make it sound like a more memoir-y version of Frederick Exley's A Fan's Notes, which is one of the best novels I have ever read. I have no idea how good Raab's book is, but people say it's very good.

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