Thursday, January 14, 2010

From Peanuts to the Pressbox

Periodically, I will include a book review like the one below as an extra post to this devotional blog. I hope you enjoy it.

To call Eli Gold’s From Peanuts to the Pressbox the best memoir I have ever read would be a lie, but it is not the worst book that I have read in this genre either. In reality, this autobiography, written with Gold’s frequent collaborator M. B. Roberts, is rather entertaining with its plethora of amusing anecdotes and momentary glimpses of the various luminaries of the sports universe. What is tiring, though, is the lackadaisical structure of the narrative, an error that tends to make the book easy to put down.

Gold’s honesty about his ambitions and transparency about his pratfalls from the past are part of what endears the book to the reader. He comes across as flawed but likeable, a normal guy doing what he loves without any sugarcoating. Gold leaves us with the impression that he is approachable, funny, and the kind of man you would have over to the house to watch the game and swap stories with.

The celebrities he peppers the memoir with are also human, caught in candid portrayals that either reinforce or forever alter any former impressions of them. Sportscaster Howard Cosell comes across as arrogant and talented as others have portrayed him. However, former quarterback Kenny “The Snake” Stabler is shown to have a quick, biting wit in addition to his more publicly known ability of being a phenomenal color commentator.

Truly, there are some wonderful gems to be found throughout Gold’s tale. The haphazard way the story is told, though, can be very distracting. Yes, there is a fine, linear thread that connects the first chapter to the last, but the journey is also so pot-holed with incidents from various stages of his career that the reader is jolted around at times like a passenger in a roadster’s rumble seat.

From Peanuts to the Pressbox has plenty of merit, but it reminds me of going over to listen to old war stories at your grandfather’s house. There are some interesting anecdotes, but the way the tales are woven together make it hard to take in one sitting.


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