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An old adage favored by writing teachers has it that one should write about what one knows. Certainly John Feinstein has done that in "Last Shot." Over the last couple of decades, Feinstein has paid a great deal of attention to men's college basketball, and this novel is set at a Final Four in New Orleans. The author knows the game's non-fictional characters - players, coaches, broadcasters, reporters, sneaker representatives - well enough to make fun of them, and he knows the game itself well enough to present it convincingly.
Feinstein's avowed purpose in writing this book was to give kids - starting with his own son-- something sports --related to comfortably read. Early sales suggest that he knows how to do that, too.
But it will be sort of a shame if "Last Shot" doesn't attract at least a little attention beyond the "young adult reader" category. Though the action is fast-moving and the plot is simple enough for a youngster to comprehend without strain, the author includes in the story some ambitious questions. I can imagine a twelve year old reading Last Shot and asking mom or dad whether it's true that most college basketball players aren't really students at all, and whether the reason some athletes embrace Christianity is that they have intimations that what they're doing on the court won't last, and yearn for something more significant.
In the past, John Feinstein has traveled with pro golfers, pro tennis players, college basketball teams, and lots of other folks in sports who'd have him along for the ride and grant him access. He's also written some fiction for adults. "Last Shot" represents his first attempt at fiction for kids, but it won't be his last. His two fourteen year old sportswriters doubling as detectives will be back. Actually, given how quickly John Feinstein turns out books, their next adventure may already be in the bookstores by the time you've finished reading these notes.
This program aired on March 11, 2005. The audio for this program is not available.
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