As usual, there is a lot to get to since my last post. It is very exciting to see so many things coming together for my book, PIN ACTION: Small-Time Gangsters, High-Stakes Gambling, and the Teenage Hustler Who became a Bowling Champion, which was released by Pegasus Books in November and is available everywhere books are sold.
I also am thrilled to report that Gold Circle Films has optioned PIN ACTION for film. Gold Circle is the enterprise behind the hysterical and wildly entertaining Pitch Perfect films. When I was younger, they also were the brains behind the surprise, runaway success, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, in 2001. These are guys who have the vision to discover humor and unforgettable characters where others fail to, and I would love to see what vision they have for the rough and risible characters I write about in PIN ACTION.
Lastly, PIN ACTION got a major-league endorsement, literally, from Major League Baseball All-Star, John Burkett. Burkett is a great guy I vividly remember watching defeat the New York Yankees in the 1996 playoffs. Pro bowling always was his first love, however, and he now is embarking very successfully on a second pro career on the lanes. I’ve gotten to know him a bit and written a couple stories about him for Bowlers Journal, the magazine where I work as Editor. He is a pro bowling history buff, too, and he loved PIN ACTION. Check out this great, and very funny, video in which Burkett and his fellow pro bowlers are asked to discuss their favorite books. You don’t want to miss this:
So much has happened since my last update I hardly know where to begin.
I’ll start here: PIN ACTION scored another very positive review! This time, from the San Francisco Book Review, which calls PIN ACTION ”clearly both a loving homage to and a balanced chronicle of a curious time in sports history.” Check out the full review here:
I am just as excited to have shared in a bit of history when a personal quest that began several years ago finally came to fruition. Get that story below, in my interview with my friend and fellow bowling writer, Jason Thomas of the United States Bowling Congress. This is one of the proudest achievements of my life, and it was an emotional experience for me to see it come to this:
Also, on March 25, my alma mater, Manhattan College, was kind enough to have me over for a reading and book signing. I began with a few poems from my new collection, THE PANIC INSIDE THE STARS, which was a finalist for the New American Poetry Prize last year, then read the first chapter of PIN ACTION while my baby daughter, Ellianna, roamed the room and stole the show. Thanks to my friend Steve Harris, one of the best sources for PIN ACTION, I have some photos from this great event:
Me with a Manhattan College student
Me with the star of the show, my daughter Ellianna
Me with Steve Harris
Lastly, it once again was my pleasure to be the guest on my good friend Lenny Nicholson’s legendary radio show, Phantom Radio, this month. To listen, check it out here:
I’m grateful to the folks at the Professional Bowlers Association for being kind enough to allow me the opportunity to talk briefly about my book, PIN ACTION: Small-Time Gangsters, High-Stakes Gambling, and the Teenage Hustler Who Became a Bowling Champion, on ESPN2 on Jan. 25 during their PBA Showdown telecast. Check out the clip here!
I recently dusted off my bowling shoes and began practicing again for the first time in years. If you’ve read the preface of my new book, PIN ACTION, you know I squandered my childhood in the bowling alleys of Brooklyn, bowling at least a hundred games a week during summers and almost as much when school was in, whenever my parents capitulated to my begging. But it’s been a long time since I was that 14-year-old kid shooting 300 in youth leagues with nothing to worry about but bowling and trying to get through Dark World on Super Mario 3. Despite a couple 200 games in practice, generally, I must admit, time has not been kind to my neglected bowling game.
That became obvious when I hit the lanes with Creative Loafing writer, David Z. Morris, with whom I went bowling in Tampa recently to shoot a couple games and chat about my new book over beers. Turns out, the guy is a phenomenally talented writer, and put together an hilarious and memorable piece about me, my diminished bowling skills, and, most of all, my book, PIN ACTION. The article appeared in Creative Loafing–Tampa Bay’s excellent “Books Issue,” which came out on Dec. 17. That issue features a solid review of the new biography of my favorite playwright, Tennessee Williams, among other great stories about good books that came out this year.
You can check out Morris’s story about PIN ACTION here.
But, really, check out the whole issue. It is must-read stuff for book lovers. You can find it here.
PIN ACTION has attracted a number of very impressive reviews from high places such as Booklist, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews and Library Journal. But to get a rave review from your hometown newspaper, and one for which you have immense respect, well, that takes the cake. Check out this great, fabulously well-written review of PIN ACTION by Colette Bancroft, Book Editor for the Tampa Bay Times. It is great fun to read, as Colette takes us back to her own childhood memories of bowling as “a little baby boomer back in the 1950s,” while exploring the PIN ACTION’s account of that bygone world.