Elwood Reid If I Don't Six: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9780385491204

If I Don't Six: A Novel

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9780385491204: If I Don't Six: A Novel

Elwood Reid first appeared on the literary stage with a powerful and bruising story called "What Salmon Know," which appeared in the March 1997 issue of GQ.  Here was a writer not afraid to examine the soulful underside of the American male, or the violence that accompanies disappointed dreams.  Now, in his first, extraordinary novel, Reid tells the story of Elwood Riley, a six-foot-six, 275-pound blue-collar kid whose ticket out of Cleveland is a "full ride" football scholarship to the University of Michigan.

But Riley is cursed with intelligence and an awareness of the vicious inhumanity of the college football system.  If Riley doesn't want to "six"--lose his scholarship or get maimed--he has to become a "fella," a pain-loving freak too nihilistic to care what he does to himself or others.  And after Riley encounters the alluring, mysteriously damaged Kate, his dilemma becomes ever more painful.

Elwood Reid's portrait of this world is at once blackly humorous, starkly tragic, and perfectly detailed.  With deft strokes, he portrays emotionally stunted coaches who have mastered the art of humiliating and manipulating young men, groupies attracted to the fame but undone by the shocking cruelty of the players, and the athletes themselves, who grow addicted to violence, alcohol, and steroids, too caught up in the glory of playing for Big Blue to notice they are mere meat to the coaches and the university.

In tough, spare, beautiful prose that should invite comparisons to the works of Thom Jones and Denis Johnson, Reid describes a place where young men damage their souls and their bodies in pursuit of a worthless glamor.  This is a profound, unsettling book about a familiar yet hidden world--a Greek tragedy in cleats.

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Review:

What is it about the Great Lakes State? In this searingly dark and funny first novel, Reid, once a lineman for the University of Michigan Wolverines, puts the college gridiron to the fire the way former Dallas Cowboy Pete Gent, once a receiver for the Michigan State Spartans, did years ago for the pros in his rollicking classic, North Dallas Forty. Reid's protagonist, Elwood Riley, like Reid himself, is a block-of-granite, working-class kid who assumes he's reached life's end zone when his high school exploits nab him a football scholarship to Michigan. But he's got brains to match his brawn, and a growing awareness of himself and beyond himself that's desperate to break free. In the locker rooms and huddles of Big College, Cash Cow, move-'em-through-the-system football, even a little awareness encroaches into rah-rah values; it sends the metaphysical penalty flags flying.

What Riley sees around him is that the system stinks. Winning isn't just everything, it's the Holy Grail. His small-minded coaches will stop at nothing--steroids, humiliation, pain, abuse--to grab it, nor will his teammates (with nicknames like Napalm, what do you expect--serenity and circumspection?), and the university sees him as little more than fuel for the "Big Blue" machine on its ineffable march to the Rose Bowl. The Six of the title is a reference to both 86-ing, screwing up so you lose your scholarship, or deep-sixing, getting killed trying to hold onto it. Reid's biting prose and insider's ability to bring an outsider into the often unreal absurdity of big-time college sports will have readers alternately rooting for Riley to beat the system and rooting for him to get out alive and in one piece. It's that textured complexity that sends Six deep, elevating it to a higher number. --Jeff Silverman

From the Publisher:

A ferocious and brilliant debut novel about young men in love with violence.

Advance praise for If I Don't Six:

"A fresh new voice, compelling and possessing a fierce honesty."
--Rick Bass, author of The Sky, the Stars, the Wilderness

"Don't say you weren't warned. This book kept me up half the night."
--Charles Baxter, author of Believers

"I have a feeling that some people are going to be real upset with Elwood Reid....If you're intoxicated with college football, this book ought to sober you up. "
--John Dufresne, author of Love Warps the Mind a Little

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Book Description Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, United States, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Anchor Books.. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Elwood Reid first appeared on the literary stage with a powerful and bruising story called What Salmon Know, which appeared in the March 1997 issue of GQ. Here was a writer not afraid to examine the soulful underside of the American male, or the violence that accompanies disappointed dreams. Now, in his first, extraordinary novel, Reid tells the story of Elwood Riley, a six-foot-six, 275-pound blue-collar kid whose ticket out of Cleveland is a full ride football scholarship to the University of Michigan. But Riley is cursed with intelligence and an awareness of the vicious inhumanity of the college football system. If Riley doesn t want to six --lose his scholarship or get maimed--he has to become a fella, a pain-loving freak too nihilistic to care what he does to himself or others. And after Riley encounters the alluring, mysteriously damaged Kate, his dilemma becomes ever more painful. Elwood Reid s portrait of this world is at once blackly humorous, starkly tragic, and perfectly detailed. With deft strokes, he portrays emotionally stunted coaches who have mastered the art of humiliating and manipulating young men, groupies attracted to the fame but undone by the shocking cruelty of the players, and the athletes themselves, who grow addicted to violence, alcohol, and steroids, too caught up in the glory of playing for Big Blue to notice they are mere meat to the coaches and the university. In tough, spare, beautiful prose that should invite comparisons to the works of Thom Jones and Denis Johnson, Reid describes a place where young men damage their souls and their bodies in pursuit of a worthless glamor. This is a profound, unsettling book about a familiar yet hidden world--a Greek tragedy in cleats. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9780385491204

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Book Description Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, United States, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Anchor Books.. Language: English . Brand New Book. Elwood Reid first appeared on the literary stage with a powerful and bruising story called What Salmon Know, which appeared in the March 1997 issue of GQ. Here was a writer not afraid to examine the soulful underside of the American male, or the violence that accompanies disappointed dreams. Now, in his first, extraordinary novel, Reid tells the story of Elwood Riley, a six-foot-six, 275-pound blue-collar kid whose ticket out of Cleveland is a full ride football scholarship to the University of Michigan. But Riley is cursed with intelligence and an awareness of the vicious inhumanity of the college football system. If Riley doesn t want to six --lose his scholarship or get maimed--he has to become a fella, a pain-loving freak too nihilistic to care what he does to himself or others. And after Riley encounters the alluring, mysteriously damaged Kate, his dilemma becomes ever more painful. Elwood Reid s portrait of this world is at once blackly humorous, starkly tragic, and perfectly detailed. With deft strokes, he portrays emotionally stunted coaches who have mastered the art of humiliating and manipulating young men, groupies attracted to the fame but undone by the shocking cruelty of the players, and the athletes themselves, who grow addicted to violence, alcohol, and steroids, too caught up in the glory of playing for Big Blue to notice they are mere meat to the coaches and the university. In tough, spare, beautiful prose that should invite comparisons to the works of Thom Jones and Denis Johnson, Reid describes a place where young men damage their souls and their bodies in pursuit of a worthless glamor. This is a profound, unsettling book about a familiar yet hidden world--a Greek tragedy in cleats. Bookseller Inventory # BZV9780385491204

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