SLOTBACK RHAPSODY

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At 27 years old, undersized but talented Nick "Mouse" Morrison has yet to realize his dreams. After several unsuccessful training camps, Nick decides a minicamp in Detroit will be his last go-round. His rejections have been tough on him, spiritually and emotionally -- not least since the previous year marked the end of his on-again-off-again relationship with his college girlfriend Henny. The only way he's able to regroup for this final try is by attempting a Buddhist approach to his life as well as football, but even that stresses him out. While going through an existential crisis from which only a thinking man's athlete can suffer, he's being absolutely crushed by 350-pound defensive tackles and bellowed at by coaches.

The novel follows Nick as he finally finds success as a slotback. But his compromises are many. His buddy Gasper hooks him up with HGH (human growth hormone), while Gasper is betting more money than he’s got on football. Meanwhile, Henny makes a surprise visit, and now that he’s a pro Nick suspects he might have another chance with her. With his life hinging on each game, how much of his identity will he sacrifice for success in a profession that thrives on conformity?

This is Friday Night Lights all grown up. Not since Don Delillo’s End Zone has there been such a brilliant portrayal of charming meatheads and on-field action. From a writer who works as a journalist in professional sports, SLOTBACK RHAPSODY is a hilarious and surprisingly accurate inside look at what it’s like to be a professional athlete in today’s 24/7 idol-obsessed culture, as well as a meditation on the high cost of single-mindedness.