Winner of The Paris Review/Terry Southern Prize for Humor.
"Chris Bachelder is a witty, compassionate troublemaker, and we need more like him." —George Saunders
Here is the absorbing story of twenty-two men who gather every fall to painstakingly reenact what ESPN called “the most shocking play in NFL history” and the Washington Redskins dubbed the “Throwback Special”: the November 1985 play in which the Redskins’ Joe Theismann had his leg horribly broken by Lawrence Taylor of the New York Giants live on Monday Night Football.
With wit and great empathy, Chris Bachelder introduces us to Charles, a psychologist whose expertise is in high demand; George, a garrulous public librarian; Fat Michael, envied and despised by the others for being exquisitely fit; Jeff, a recently divorced man who has become a theorist of marriage; and many more. Over the course of a weekend, the men reveal their secret hopes, fears, and passions as they choose roles, spend a long night of the soul preparing for the play, and finally enact their bizarre ritual for what may be the last time. Along the way, mishaps, misunderstandings, and grievances pile up, and the comforting traditions holding the group together threaten to give way.
The Throwback Special is a moving and comic tale filled with pitch-perfect observations about manhood, marriage, middle age, and the rituals we all enact as part of being alive.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Chris Bachelder's fourth novel—nominated for the 2016 National Book Award—is a virtuosic love note to the age-old rituals of male friendship and the unifying power of sports. Bachelder has an astonishing ear for dialogue, and his characters are profoundly relatable and endlessly entertaining. The Throwback Special is bitingly funny, achingly sad, and pretty close to perfect.
It’s not about the football
This book sent me down a rabbit hole of reading all of Bachelder before I knew it I reached the end and wanted more. His timing and story telling is amazing. I’d say The Throwback Special and Abbott Awaits might be two of my favorite books of any I read in the last few years.