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Book Review, "Stick a Fork in me" Dan Jenkins

Posted by: Pat Sullivan

Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 8:14 AM

For: HookedOnGolf.com

            May 2017

 

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            Book review:

 

            Stick A Fork In Me

            By Dan Jenkins

            Tyrus Books

            Blue Ash, OH, 2017

 

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                                                            By Pat Sullivan

 

           

                        Last month Dan Jenkins, the esteemed sportswriter known for among other things his magazine work at Sports Illustrated and his best-selling golf books led by “The Dogged Victims of Inexorable Fate,'' covered his 67th Masters Tournament. The dean of Augusta golf writers in the past few years has come to be called the Ancient Twitterer, for his incisive running comments during majors weeks. He has 56,200 followers.

 

                        Three months ago Jenkins published his 12th novel, adding to a body of work that includes “Dead Solid Perfect'' and “Semi-Tough.” Like the latter “Stick A Fork In Me'' has a football theme, but fear not, readers, there is plenty of golf in this quick-read book's 223 pages.

 

                         The cleverly designed, black-and-white dust jacket is a tipoff – Xs and Os on a coach's chalkboard frame a golf ball and two clubs. In the 40 shortish chapters there are plenty of references to fictitious venues such as Pine Knot GC, Bent Oak, GC, Windy Cove CC, Raccoon Mountain GC, Lakota CC and locales such as Mosquito Lake and Swamp Fever, Mississippi.

 

                        Jenkins' affection for such amusing word play also includes the name of the mascot at mythical Western Ohio University – the “Cheetahs'' – but that's getting ahead of the story.

 

                        Perseus (Pete) Wallace is a former college football coach who has risen to become a disillusioned athletic director wanting out of the academic scene and seeking a retirement package. “I'm tired of smiling, talking to strangers, shaking hands, making speeches, telling lies, and mostly tired of going to meetings and listening to people babble about nothing. Glad to be hanging it up,'' he says.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                        Pete also has had it with today's social mores compared to the good old days when “Freshmen were ineligible. Drugs were unheard of. The varsity studs could handle their cigarettes and whiskey.'' And, he goes on, “Once upon a time you had to be in the United States Navy

to wear a tattoo, but in this culture somebody started the rumor that they're required for social acceptance. In a single afternoon walking across our campus, I'd spot a dozen babes who'd qualify as all-stars if their arms and back weren't covered in ink.''

 

                        What really gets Pete hot are the liberal-faculty types and the political correctness floating in the air 24/7. Early on, Stanford is semi-skewered. “I've been sick of political correctness since I first noticed it,'' he says. “Which was when two great universities, Stanford and Dartmouth, caved in to the busybodies and changed their mascots from gallant Indian braves to Crayolas, or whatever they call themselves now.''

 

                        The city of San Francisco  – specifically its alt-cuisine, foodie reputation – also feels the nib of Jenkins' pen. Wallace, his wife Glenda and two other couples in town for an NCAA convention visit a trendy restaurant. “I still don't know the name of it,'' Pete says (the book is written in the first-person style). “The sign was a mixture of letters, some upside down, some backward. You had to have the address to find the place . . . the second course looked like a display of candied insects . . . I never knew what any of it tasted like. I dined on the reliable green olives in my three martinis.''

 

                        Glenda has a recurring role. Anticipating Pete's retirement, she avidly pursues golf, locking on to a personal-pro instructor, entertaining thoughts that she eventually might be good enough to join the LPGA Tour and asking her husband if they could join Augusta National.  “You don't ask to join,'' he has to inform her. “You should remember how happy you were when we were invited to join Bent Oak after I became AD.''

 

                        Another recurring character is Wallace's deputy Rita Jo Foster, “a blue-eyed blonde who can hold her own with those smokin' hot babes on Fox News.''  Yes, there is a sub-plot going on here –  tension with the missus over Rita Jo's near constant presence in Pete's professional personal space.

 

                        “Stick A Fork . . .'' concludes solidly and satisfactorily for the main characters but not before a few late chapters where Jenkins employs his extensive sports knowledge and experience to riff on the Summer Olympics, track and field – “I didn't know Bob Marley was a common first name in Jamaica'' –  swimming – and the svelte swim coach – diving, equestrian and Title IX. His predecessor as AD was one Amos Alonzo Powell, who, Pete says, ignored Title IX when it became law in 1972 and was on record saying, “Women ain't supposed to go running and jumping around. Women is supposed to shell peas and fold laundry.''

 

                        In June the 117th U.S. Open Golf Championship will be played at Erin Hills CC in Erin Hills, WI, with the scheduled final round – as always – on Father's Day. Golf fans can look forward to Jenkins' tweets during the competition. (Watch for the ones mentioning Sergio Garcia).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                         In the meantime “Stick . . . '', excellently proofread, by the way, no typos – is out there

 waiting to be recruited as a fine, poke in PC-ness's eye and gut-funny mother of all Father's Day gifts.

 

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                        Pat Sullivan covered golf at the San Francisco Chronicle for 23 years. His short-read (e-book) “Pismo Beach: Hollywood Punchline'' is available at Amazon.com.             

 

 

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