This is an odd book for me to review, both because it was written by a friend, and it’s about sports. Sports is normally something I think of as inconsequential, displaying repressed sexuality, glorifying war, or on my really grouchy days, all three.
I have many writerly friends. When I don’t like their books/stories/articles, I say absolutely nothing. To keep them guessing, I often say nothing even when I do like them. If someone asks me outright what I think, I have the character flaw of the compulsively honest, and I really do tell them.
To add to the amazing-that-I-care factor, the book is a collection of King Kaufman’s columns about about the 2002 and 2006 Winter Olympics, as seen from the couch in front of his TV in St Louis. So the mere fact that I am reviewing When Curling was King at all means I liked it a lot.
In fact I enjoyed the hell out of it. When King talks about sports, he talks about the idea of sports as much as the particulars, making him pretty much the only sports journalist I can pay attention to for more than five minutes. This includes my patron saint, HST. I could only get through his writing because he couldn’t stick to sports for a full five minutes before veering off into politics and other degenerate kinks, many of which I share. But King seems used to writing for effete intellectual anti-sports snobs like me. He brings in points of culture, and talks about people without sacrificing a love for athletics.
King is really funny, and good at laying out context for the uninitiated. He manages to say what we’re all thinking about Winter Olympic sports, and therefore makes it ok. His love of sports comes through as infectious, not overbearing. But he never takes it too seriously either. It’s a relief to find out that some of the things that just look silly to me are in fact silly, rather than deep sports mysteries I will never understand. That people love ice skating for the melodrama and the paper-mâché nightmare costumes. That no one is quite sure what a luger is accomplishing other than holding very still, athletically.
And I have no idea exactly how or why, but I’m interested in curling now. Of all the sports discussed, I actually want to see curling. It sounds fantastic but I have no idea why I think so. That’s what good writing can do to your head.
If you’ve ever wanted to see what it’s like to care about sports, but don’t want to actually subject yourself to the time loss of watching them, or worse, be subjected to the mercilessly detailed explanations of the passionate fans, head down to yon Scribd and get yourself a digital copy. It’s quick, full of the lols, and a gateway to another world if you haven’t been able to care about sport since, like me, they stopped forcing you to care in high school.
Once again, that’s When Curling was King, by King Kaufman,$3 from Scribd. So cheap even I can afford it.