Thursday, January 17, 2008

Pure Book Review: Senior Year by Dan Shaughnessy

Pure Book Review will be a semi-regular (meaning whenever I feel like it) installment where I review a book (shocking) that probably has something to do with sports. This would have been less lame if it debuted before the Deadspin Book Club, but oh well.

Do you remember where you were when Anthony Gurley scored the 1000th point in his high school career? How about when J.T. Ross somehow managed to pitch a no-hitter and lose the game (errors)? No? I don't blame you. But I remember where I was. I was there.

One thing that I should note about Sam Shaughnessy's senior year was that it was also my senior year (Newton North, Class of 2006. Great, now you know how old I am). The memories in this book were my memories, the characters were my friends.

Now, I knew that because of his dad, a certain Curly Haired Boyfriend, Sam often took batting practice with players on the Red Sox. I know he would have dinner with Peter Gammons, joke around with Bob Ryan, and probably be chummy with Bill Simmons (I doubt that he had much interaction with Theo Epstein).

I remember Sam's romance with Emily Proia (arguably the best looking girl in our class of 550 kids), I remember his friendship with Gurley and Alexis Mongo. I remember all of that.

How close was I to Shaggs (I can call him Shaggs, that's close enough, isn't it)? Let's just say that one saga not entailed in the book was an AP Stat scandal headed by Sam, Coopstag (the estranged weekend editor of this blog) and myself.

These stories were my stories. Our stories.

In any case, now comes te real question. Why is Will Leitch going to read this book? Why do Sooze, Lizzy, Sarah, and Melissa care about Shaggs being on the Padres' draft card? Why would Skeets and Tas (don't forget JD!) want to know about Sam toiling away on the JV Basketball team (I always wondered why he did it)?

The answer? There's no reason. CHB is not particularly well-versed in telling this story. The events are neither especially intriguing nor tear-jerking. These stories are just that. Stories about real events about an ordinary high school senior. Without a personal connection to Shaggs, there's pretty much nothing waiting for you in the pages of this book.

Maybe it will make you reminisce to the days when you were a high school senior, struggling through slumps in baseball and in life. But odds are that it won't. I enjoyed this book whole-heartedly; I could hardly put it down. You, on the other hand, probably won't hate it, but I wouldn't put money on you loving it.

Rating: Three Dirty Dishes

[edit] My good friend Alex Dietz points out that I introduced a rating system without explaining it. Basically assume dirty dishes are like stars, in that more are better. The top score is 5 dirty dishes. Why dirty dishes? I think you can figure it out (Pure Point?).


Alexander Dietz said...

1. I was going to say "'arguably' is right" but then I remembered that Rachel Berman is a year below us.

2. You should probably explain your ratings system. I can think of at least six things that "Three Dirty Dishes" could mean.