Read Remark Book Review - The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder

Book Review: The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder

One-sentence summary:

In this short novel by Chris Bachelder, men gather for their annual reenactment of the Lawrence Taylor football tackle of Joe Theismann, resulting in his gruesome leg break.


I often hear people comment on what vexing mysteries women are. I’m here to tell ya, men are just as much of a mystery.

I didn’t know what to expect out of a book about a bunch of dudes, other than beer and a massive fart cloud.

The Throwback Special is fascinating. It’s like a veil has been lifted and I’m glimpsing the gears at work. (Totally mixed my metaphors there. Oops.)

It brings up a lot of questions for me about men:

  • Do men really express their feelings at length like that?
  • Are men really so neurotic?
  • Are they all so ambiguous about their spouses and children?

I’m taken with the idea of looking at the inner workings of men, but now they seem even more foreign to me. And I’ve been married to one for a long time. You’d think I’d have a better idea by now.

The Throwback Special is another of The Morning News 2017 Tournament of Books shortlist competitors. I wonder if it has a bit too much ennui to make it far in the brackets. A more explosive or tearjerking book will likely make it farther, but this is definitely a worthwhile read.

To appreciate The Throwback Special’s context, you really must first watch the Taylor/Theismann leg break.

For someone like me who knows nothing about sports and starts to glaze over when people talk about it, watching the clip helps.

As soon as I finished watching the clip, I wondered why in the world the men would want to reenact it? And why do they keep meeting up every year when they seem to not even like it or each other that much? There seems to be no joy in their joining. So why do it?

This book reminds me of a man version of A. Manette Ansay’s book, Midnight Champagne. And going back even further, The Dead by James Joyce. There are deep and profound and sometimes melancholy emotions whirling within the characters, shared sparingly and in such shockingly intimate detail that it makes you realize this long-time friend or companion is almost a stranger.

These books don’t have much of a plot. The stories live in the setting and character studies. The plot is just a device to geto the people within. For all three books, it could be summarized as “These people get together for an event.”

But oh, the vast universes within each of the people.