The Throwback Special: Book summary and reviews of The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder

The Throwback Special

by Chris Bachelder

The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder X
The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2016
    224 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

A slyly profound and startlingly original novel about the psyche of the American male, The Throwback Special marks the return of one of the most acclaimed literary voices of his generation.

Here is the absorbing story of twenty-two men who gather every fall to painstakingly reenact what ESPN called "the most shocking play in NFL history" and the Washington Redskins dubbed the "Throwback Special": the November 1985 play in which the Redskins' Joe Theismann had his leg horribly broken by Lawrence Taylor of the New York Giants live on Monday Night Football.

With wit and great empathy, Chris Bachelder introduces us to Charles, a psychologist whose expertise is in high demand; George, a garrulous public librarian; Fat Michael, envied and despised by the others for being exquisitely fit; Jeff, a recently divorced man who has become a theorist of marriage; and many more. Over the course of a weekend, the men reveal their secret hopes, fears, and passions as they choose roles, spend a long night of the soul preparing for the play, and finally enact their bizarre ritual for what may be the last time. Along the way, mishaps, misunderstandings, and grievances pile up, and the comforting traditions holding the group together threaten to give way.

The Throwback Special is a moving and comic tale filled with pitch-perfect observations about manhood, marriage, middle age, and the rituals we all enact as part of being alive.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Bachelder's take on manhood is sharply observed and sympathetic and funny enough to win over even those readers who abhor football and its fans." - Kirkus

"This novel may appeal mainly to fanatical football fans who are also readers of literary fiction - a restricted market, to be sure - but it merits a far larger and more diverse audience." - Booklist

"Filled with subtle humor and incisive insights, Bachelder's novel will resonate with anyone who has pondered the game of life." - Publishers Weekly

"What a brilliant book. Bachelder is doing things that very few other writers can manage, and making it look so easy." - Kevin Wilson, author of The Family Fang

"With The Throwback Special, Chris Bachelder has written a hilarious literary novel about our least hilarious - and least literary - national pastime." - Tom Bissell, author of Extra Lives

"A comic meditation about marriage, ritual, friendship, parenthood, aging, and unlikely obsessions, The Throwback Special is a funny, insightful, and surprisingly poignant book." - Julie Schumacher, bestselling author of Dear Committee Members

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More Information

Chris Bachelder is the author of Bear v. Shark, U.S.!, and Abbott Awaits. His fiction and essays have appeared in McSweeney's, The Believer, and the Paris Review. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Cincinnati, where he teaches at the University of Cincinnati.

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