Hoop Roots ebook

by John Edgar Wideman

A multilayered memoir of basketball, family, home, love, and race, John Edgar Wideman"s Hoop Roots brings "a touch of Proust to the blacktop" (Time) as it tells of the author's love for a game he can no longer play. Beginning with the scruffy backlot playground he discovered in Pittsburgh some fifty years ago, Wideman works magical riffs that connect black music, language, culture, and sport. His voice modulates from nostalgic to outraged, from scholarly to streetwise, in describing the game that has sustained his passion throughout his life.
I've been a big fan of Wideman's work for years: his fiction, non-fiction, as well as his critical essays. I've especially enjoyed "Brothers & Keepers," "Fatheralong," etc. But I was, frankly, disappointed by this, his latest book. I would have much preferred more focus on Hoops--or at least on the Roots of Hoops--as the title seems to promise. Instead, we get more talk of (Wideman family) Roots than anything to do w/ the game of basketball (whether the street game, the pros, or Hoops in college). I suppose some (many?) might be pleased enough with Wideman to be satisfied with his writing about virtually any subject under the sun. But I was looking for a little bit more on basketball (e.g. his own H.S. and/or collegiate career, or his daughter Jamila's exploits on the Nat'l Championship Stanford team or in the WNBA). I understand that Jamila is currently at work on a folkloric study of pick-up b-ball on various courts thru'out the South (accompanied, I believe, by a photo-journalist friend of hers). I suppose I'll just have to wait for the publication of her book to get some of what I looked for in vain from her father this time.
May be the best novel about the inner experience of an aging athlete. An autobiographical novel by an accomplished writer and a complex man, Hoop Roots is a challenging read. Wideman demands something of his audience, a rarity these days, and those looking for a mindless basketball book will likely not be up to the task. As in his other books, Wideman occasionally gets carried away with his command of complex language, and some passages are a struggle even for the most commited readers. However, overall this is a first rate novel, by a first rate writer, on a subject with which he is singularly expert.
I had to read this book for a college course. Too bad for me, since it's the worst book I've had to read from cover to cover. HoRrIbLy boring, mostly incoherent, the book takes very promising themes and turns them into very stylish [material]. Loaded with clichés and overused images. Blah, blah, blah, it goes on and on. If I wasn't being evaluated on it for class I would have stopped reading it after the first 15 pages. It's the only Wideman book I've read, and of course I don't plan to read any others, but if this is proof of his best work, I hope he is a better creative writing professor than his writing would suggest.
If you think John Wideman's Hoop Roots is about playground basketball you may find yourself disappointed -- as I was.
Wideman is a wonderful writer. When he describes a player's drive to the basket, gliding into the air, checking out all around him, you can picture the action and feel the the excitement. When he describes the social protocols for the pick-up game he nails it When he describes the early days of the National Basketball Association, including the unique challenges for Black players, you can see it and feel it.
Unfortunately Hoop Roots contains far too few accounts like these. This book is about John Wideman growing up in a Black neighborhood in Pittsburgh, about his relationship to his family and in particular his grandmother, about Black athletes and Black men in America. Basketball, which has played such a key role in Wideman's life, is sprinkled throughout, often in bits and pieces that left me wanting much more.
Wideman was a star high school and college basketball player. He came the same neighborhood as NBA great Maurice Stokes and other noted stars. He played highly competitive playground basketball until he was 59, long after he had become an award-winning writer. I had so many questions for him. What was it like playing organized high school and college ball compared to the playgrounds? What were his own experiences as a playground player? What were some of his most memorable experiences in the playground game? How did he ever play until he was 59?!
Instead Wideman gives us long passages on the different routes he took to get to the playground as a youth, oversized shorts versus short shorts, and a fable about the Globe Trotters first road trip. It's all brilliantly written. It's just not about basketball.
Hoop Roots ebook
John Edgar Wideman
Ethnic & National
EPUB size:
1753 kb
FB2 size:
1315 kb
DJVU size:
1279 kb
Mariner Books; Reprint edition (February 6, 2003)
242 pages
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