Read the The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder this past weekend. It’s good. Smart. The book is about a group of men who have been getting together for years to re-enact the gruesome play where Joe Theismann had his leg broken by Lawrence Taylor on Monday Night Football. It’s a funny idea, and the object of satire here is less football or fandom than middle-aged men, always a ripe target for comedy. The book reads like a literary cousin to a m Gaffigan stand-up routine (I mean this as a compliment, FYI. Although if the book’s punches drew more blood, I might have compared it to a Louis CK special.)
Bachelder will have you reading his best bits out loud to the nearest person. I recommend a graffiti-ed story that one of the characters writes on the hotel’s pristine bathroom wall. Much is great here, even though many of the 22 reenactors blur into one another, and as do their disappointments. Also, the book, at a brisk 224 pages, takes care of its business a little too quickly.
But Bachelder captures well that feeling of arriving at an age where you see your letdowns more clearly than your possibilities. For these characters the break didn’t manifest as sharply as it did for Joe Theismann, but they know they’re on the other side of it all the same.