Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I Like Kenny Mayne So Much That I Don't Want Him to Write Another Book

Kenny Mayne's An Incomplete & Inaccurate History of Sport is the kind of book targeted towards people like me: lovers of sports, snark, memoir, snark, sports memories, and more snark.

And while this book doesn't hinder my undying admiration for the last bastion of the "Big Show" era, it pains me not to love Mayne's first foray into publishing, is a mixed marriage of sports, comedy, self-reflection, stream of consciousness, and shockingly, frustrating boredom.

While his droll, sly delivery and penchant for quips and smart alecky-goodness has made him a mainstay and beloved anchor of ESPN fans, his humor doesn't necessarily translate well into print. Though his intent was not to make an actual authoritative sports book, or sports memoir, but simply an entertaining read, it struggles to do just that.

Mayne relies too often on repetition within the book, and barely halfway through the book, it's difficult for even the biggest Mayne purist to not be somewhat befuddled by a lack of some semblance of focus, whether it be comedically or narratively.

At points during the book, he makes light of the fact that the reader in question may regret buying the book held in their hands; by the third reference to tricking you into buying it, you pretty much wish you never thought of picking the damn thing up.

There are some funny personal moments, such as his diatribes on his experiences "Dancing with the Starts."

And there are some genuinely somber and real moments within the book, when he's reflecting on personal tragedy or sharing the joy that is his children. But much of that is bogged down and lost in the constant need for the droll sarcastic punchline.

He paints scenes from his childhood and growing up as an athlete that are interesting, but would be better served to be more descriptive. We hear about his childhood friends like the Sansavers, but we don't see them. It's as if Mayne is relying on a video clip of his memories like he were broadcasting the book to us from a anchor desk, not aware of the blank page he provides.

All in all, Kenny Mayne's An Incomplete & Inaccurate History of Sport is definitely not worth a buy, or stealing (as he jokingly suggests in his much funnier promotional viral videos) but maybe, dare I say, a borrow from the library (do those still exist?) or a long read sitting in the corner of a Barnes & Noble fire exit.

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