A WRITER'S WIT
Til thirty, should perceive there's a
Born January 22, 1788
The Comforting Qualities of Basketball
Behind the Book is a weekly series in which I discuss the creative process it takes to write each of the fifteen narratives included in my latest collection, My Long-Playing Records and Other Stories. Scroll to the bottom of the post to locate links to previous Behind the Book posts.
A PASSAGE FROM THE STORY
“Tikosyn is a pale apricot capsule you take at ten a.m. In twelve hours you’ll take another twenty-five milligrams. This drug regulates the rhythm of your heart, since your organ, which is fifty-eight, can’t seem to regulate itself.”
Now for the other strand of the story: The one activity that this family man enjoys is attending the basketball games of the team in his university town, a team that is a member of a large NCAA conference. Larry reminisces about the days when he and his wife, both cheerleaders, yell their lungs out for their team. At each game he can cite the stats of each player on the floor, both home and opposing. He can describe the old coliseum, which is now defunct, his love of the new venue in town, Spirit Temple Arena. Back and forth I weave these two strands: this man’s drug-controlled life and a game that he secretly admits he loves more than God. Yes, this man describes to the reader every drug that he must take to keep his life together, its benefits, the symptoms it’s trying to quell, its costs, its co-pays, its generic versions. But he also describes the fulsomeness of his love for basketball, how, when the local team suddenly has an opportunity to beat the number one team in the country at home, he hardly feels the pain in his life.
This story, along with verbiage that I borrow from medical literature and imitate (Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects), seems to come out of nowhere, but clearly the issue is something that had been nagging me for years. The sardonic yet droll tone of the narrator helps to mitigate the seriousness of the topic over the space of 13,000 words—so much so that Blackbird, the literary magazine out of Virginia Commonwealth University not only published it in their distinguished online journal but sent it onto the editors of the premier edition of Best of the Web, in which “Basketball Is Not a Drug” also appeared in 2008. It is my hope that you will buy my collection and that this story, along with the other fourteen, will provide you with a laugh or two.
Click here to buy a copy of My Long-Playing Records and Other Stories, where it is available at Amazon.
NEXT TIME: NEW YORKER FICTION 2015
CATCH UP WITH EARLIER POSTS OF BEHIND THE BOOK
11/13/14 — Introduction to My Long-Playing Records
11/20/14 — "My Long-Playing Records" — The Story
11/27/14 -- "A Certain Kind of Mischief"
12/04/14 — "Ghost Riders"
12/11/14 — "The Best Mud"
12/18/14 — "Handy to Some"
12/25/14 — "Blight"
01/09/15 — "Tales of the Millerettes"
01/15/15 — "Men at Sea"