The Swinger. A Shank.
“Hilarious…a sensational novel.” –Golf Magazine
“Will leave you howling.” –Florida Times-Union
“An entertaining, revealing, thought-provoking, and cautionary tale.” –NY Times
“A must-read.” –Yahoo! Sports
Really? Did they all read the same novel I read? “The Swinger” by Michael Bamberger and Alan Shipnuck? Can’t be. The book I read was exactly none of the above. In golfspeak it was that most horrific shot imaginable…a shank.
“The Swinger” is the story of Herbert X. “Tree” Tremont, the best golfer on the PGA tour, who happens to be black, married to a beautiful white woman from Europe, who manages to blow up the most ideal life imaginable by being a selfish, self-centered serial philanderer. Hmmm. Sound familiar? Of course it does. The veneer covering this “fiction” is thin to the point of non-existence. We are invited, nay, led to believe that we can assume that all of the details are true; the names have been changed to protect the guilty.
Laugh out loud funny? Please. I picked up the book mostly for the amusement. I looked for the funny parts. I don’t think I got so much as a chuckle out of 200 some odd pages of drivel. The hilarity of near misses and hair-raising escapes? Nah. Each sordid episode was more soulless than the last, and each escape only dulled any inclination that I might have had to find some tiny iota of sympathy for Tiger…er…I mean, Tree.
“Is this how it really happened?” asks one of the reviews? Well, that part is at least a little bit interesting, at least as far as the writers are concerned. I found myself wondering which one of the authors was/is “Josh”, the aging, good guy golf writer who gets sucked into the cesspool and becomes Tree’s publicist/apologist. Which one got suckered and is now trying to weasel his way out of accountability?
Nope, in the end “The Swinger” was a disappointment in every respect. Simple prose steeped in simile and bereft of metaphor, the writing equivalent of a cheap muni course not worthy of joining the Muirfields of golf literature. The characters were as flat and two dimensional as an Oklahoma City track. Where is all the complexity in Tree? The Americablinasian,n,n,ness? Is THAT part true, too?
I felt empty. Cheated. Did you ever pay to play a really famous course only to find out that you have to take a cart, you have to keep the cart on the cartpaths, and all the greens and tees were just plugged? Pretty pictures on the scorecard but nothing but “no fun” from the 1st tee. Yah…that. It was totally contrived, like a porn movie without the goofy, repetitive jingle in the background. I neither laughed nor cried, and I couldn’t work up an ounce of “I care” for a single soul in the book.
Frankly, I get more emotionally involved in Satellite Tour events on the golf channel in the middle of a sleepless night. My most prominent reactions were sadness and boredom, and I really like golf. And I really like Tiger. My advice for someone looking to pick up “The Swinger”? This one’s as gimmicky and trivial as a vacationland miniature golf course; it’s not worth the green’s fee.
For Mike and Alan? Take a mulligan, boys. That was one, ugly shank.
This entry was posted on Friday, October 14th, 2011 at 2:38 pm and is filed under Athletics, Random Thoughts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.