SBD/November 18, 2011/People and Pop Culture

Bookshelf: Critics Review Scott Raab's "The Whore Of Akron"

USA TODAY's Reid Cherner wrote SCOTT RAAB's new book, "THE WHORE OF AKRON: ONE MAN'S SEARCH FOR THE SOUL OF LEBRON JAMES," is part "comic-polemic, part-confessional and partly a love-letter to family." Raab has "released all his venom on James as the scapegoat for the nearly six decades Cleveland has gone without a title winner." Raab said, "I had a lot of fun along the way, I really did. Hopefully the reader will too. Writing through it and trying to answer a couple of the questions of what made me so passionate but such a hater. I think I needed to go deep to answer those and I do feel better." While James' fans "might not find much humor in the book, Raab hopes that isn't the case for most readers." He said, "I think it's a funny book. It is a book about a fan. So I want people to have a sense of fun reading the book" (USA TODAY, 11/16). In Cleveland, Bill Lubinger wrote the "rewind is fun, funny, exhausting, introspective and, at times, sensitive and as vulgar as its title." In pursuing James "pre- and post-'Decision,' [Raab] invites Cleveland fans to lie beside him on the psychoanalytic couch" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 11/14). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Nathaniel Friedman wrote the "anger that courses through the book is grotesque, one-dimensional and tedious." But Raab "for all his profanity and threats of bodily harm ... is no talk-radio yowler." Even at his "most crass," Raab "weaves together four or five different neurotic motifs." The book is "never as stupid as it seems, or at times, wants to be" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/12). SI's Ben Reiter writes Raab's "mastery of invective is one element of 'The Whore' that lifts the book above the standard of the average late-night sports radio caller." Another is his "self-awareness in plumbing the source of his hate, which he attributes to his dysfunctional, drug-addled past, here rendered evocatively" (SI, 11/14 issue).

BEHIND THE SCENES: In Boston, Thomas Smith reviewed "WAR ROOM" and noted author MICHAEL HOLLEY "provides a fascinating account of how" BILL BELICHICKSCOTT PIOLI and THOMAS DIMITROFF "used the draft and shrewd trades to build the Pats into the envy of the NFL." Their "success prompted other teams to raid Patriots coaches and front office personnel." Pioli and Dimitroff "left to become general managers of the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons, respectively." Based on "extensive interviews and access to the draft-day activities of the Patriots, Chiefs, and Falcons, 'War Room' has the strengths, and some of the weaknesses, of an insider’s account." The book is "crisply written," and the story "moves along like a two-minute drill." But Holley "often comes across as a booster rather than a detached journalist." Belichick, Dimitroff and Pioli "all are portrayed as princely men who possess sharp minds, warm hearts, enviable work habits, and strong family values." A PR firm "could not write more glowingly" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/16).

INSIDE THE MIND: In Cleveland, Michael McIntyre reviewed "JOE TAIT: IT'S BEEN A REAL BALL," which Tait co-wrote with the Plain Dealer's TERRY PLUTO. McIntyre noted in the book fans "will find out about Tait's love for railroads; the advent of the phrase, 'Wham with the right hand!;' his stint calling both Cavs and Indians games; his thoughts on the 'miracle' year at the Coliseum; his distaste for former [Cavaliers] owner TED STEPIEN, who fired Tait; and his take on LeBron James" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 11/14).

TOUGH GUY TALK:In Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont wrote former NHLer GEORGES LARAQUE said that he "wasn't looking for a firestorm with his new book, 'THE STORY OF THE NHL'S UNLIKELIEST TOUGH GUY,' but he got one with his comments about NHL players using steroids." Instantly labeled "the game's JOSE CANSECO, he rejected the comparison, noting, unlike baseball's bad boy, that he never used steroids and also, unlike the former Athletics outfielder, didn't name those who did." Laraque later said that the NHL "has a problem 'with all types of drugs' and that he knows '100 percent' that some players are using HGH" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/13).
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