Monday, June 13, 2011

James Boice

James Boice was born in 1982 in Salinas, California and grew up in northern Virginia. He dropped out of college after three weeks to be a writer. He is the author of the novels MVP (2007) and NoVA (2008) and the newly released The Good and the Ghastly (2011). His work has appeared in Esquire, McSweeney's, Fiction, Salt Hill and others. He writes about pathological people. His two obsessions are professional sports and northern Virginia. He lives in New York after several years in Cambridge, MA.

Late last month I asked Boice what he was reading. His reply:
Right this moment—10:57 AM on Monday May 23, 2011—I am in the process of reading two books. One novel and one non-fiction. That tends to be the way I operate. The novel is Arriving in Abignon by Daniel Robberechts. I came across it on the New Arrivals shelf at the local library. This is a good place to locate good books that I normally would have missed because of the blaring fiction hype-machine which often tricks me into buying books I do not like. Anyway, this was written in the 1960s. It’s a short meditative book about the writer’s experiences with this random town in France as a young man. He keeps ending up there for one reason or another. He is a loner-type. In a lot of ways he is your every day self-absorbed 24-year-old-ish artistic type. I am not loving it but I do like it. I like books that just lay everything out in a very true way, rather than trying to pander to you or manipulate you or sacrificing the truth in order to leave you unthreatened. Telling the truth is the most important thing I look for in a book. This does that. And there are very stunning long, elaborate passages that make you want to read them over and over.

The other book I am reading is Play Their Hearts Out by George Dohrmann. It is about the grassroots youth basketball machine. This is the apparatus through which all elite basketball players pass through on their way the NBA. There are some seriously creepy men out there who pass themselves off as coaches but are really gold diggers seeking big money for themselves by latching themselves onto ten-year-old kids and marketing their talents and hyping them and promising them fame and fortune in the NBA and usually leaving them burned out by age 18 with nothing to show for it--certainly not an NBA contract, or even a college scholarship, and usually not even better basketball skills. Everyone is responsible and complicit—athletic apparel companies, parents. At all levels, sports attract the most desperate, pathological people. But what’s more interesting than that is how the parents—more often than not single moms in tough neighborhoods—not only accommodate these guys but go to them on their knees begging them to come into their lives and do whatever they will with their children in the hopes that it will give themselves and their child to a better station in life. Ain’t that America.
View the trailer for The Good and the Ghastly, and learn more about the book and author at James Boice's website.

--Marshal Zeringue