Thursday, August 27, 2015

Boys in the Boat

I should have noted that my post on earlier this week on the high point of summer was prompted by my reading of Boys in the Boat, about the University of Washington 8-man crew that went to the Berlin Olympics and won, upstaging Hitler much like Jesse Owens had.  Admittedly, they weren't black, but still.

Up in Larchmont there was great fervor about this book, apparently some poobah of some sort anointed it the greatest work on non-fiction since sliced bread. Naturally, this called forth the sleeping cynic in my breast, ever-envious of anyone who might pretend to write the greatest book of any sort, which I believe, of course, is in fact crouched somewhere within me, waiting to pounce on something.

But I read it anyway.  And it was good, if not transcendent.  Even though I knew what the denouement must be, it was suspenseful nonetheless.  It was difficult to not like the main character, Joe Frantz, particularly since the author worked so hard to make him likeable. The fact is, even though I knew where it was headed, and even he telegraphed the moral thrust of the book -- that these hard-working honest working-class kids from bumfuck nowhere looked deep within themselves to rise up and conquer the elitists of the East as well as Nazis -- I found myself crying at the end.  It projects an ideal of America that we, or at least I, want to believe in.

What's more, I learned quite a bit about Goebbels, Leni Riefenstahl, and the pig dog apologists on the 1936 US Olympic Committee.  All told, a fine book.

And it reminded me of Seattle.

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