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Football is a powerful character-driven tale using football as a framework in which to examine teenage life in 1956 in Western Pennsylvania. This thoughtful story follows Larry Simmons through several life-changing events as 1957 looms on the horizon. Should he continue his athletic aspirations? Will he be inspired by more poetry? What does high school mean to him? And what is happening with Cameron Mitchell?
“Don Skiles’ Football certainly does capture the awesome power of the game and its collateral culture in 1950s small-town America. More than that—much more than it—it’s an extraordinary evocation of a simpler place and time—but far from being a nostalgia piece, it puts the reader squarely inside that lost reality, body and soul. I find this novel weirdly irresistible.”
Madison Smartt Bell
“In this beautiful novel, Don Skiles illuminates the life of a young man coming of age in 1950s Pennsylvania. Larry Simmons hasn’t a cynical bone in his body, but just behind his eager embrace of his world hovers the dark side of small town America. This novel’s great charm is its subtly contained melancholy, its fragile dreams modestly conveyed, its sufferings cast in the best possible light by a young man who always takes the high road even when there isn’t one. Larry is one of the most lovable and heartbreaking characters in any book I’ve read in some time.”
Elizabeth McKenzie, author of “Stop That Girl
“Don Skiles’ novel, Football, has the intimacy of a heartfelt memoir, nostalgic but clear-eyed, about an America of just yesterday. And boys, young men, like his protagonist are still to be found in today’s America, we can hope.”
Herbert Gold, author of “Fathers” and “Still Alive: A Temporary Condition”, reissued as “Not Dead Yet.
“Football is a euphemism for ‘Making It’ in Don Skiles’ passionate novel about the manifold things Boomer boys dreamed about—sex, heroes, making the team, lettering, deer hunting, victory, movies, cars, being a man—in small town western Pennsylvania of the late 50s. This time tunnel owes more to Larry McMurtry, David Guy, and All the Right Moves, than it does to Tex Maule, Clair Bee, or Friday Night Lights. And Skiles is hip to the fact that while the trappings of adolescence may change the actual process never gets any easier, which allows him to drill deeply into the heart and soul of America.”
Richard Peabody, editor “Gargoyle Magazine”
“An impressively well written and thoroughly entertaining novel, Football documents author Don Skiles as a skilled and talented storyteller. A rewarding read, Football is especially recommended for community library General Fiction collections.”
“A tour de force enters the field of sport literature. a novel that sweeps up the sights, sounds, smells, history, gossip, mores, and hopes of the fictional Western Pennsylvania blue-collar ‘football town’ of Ralston in the fading months of 1956. Into a plot peppered with allusions to the popular culture of the country and the times, San Francisco poet and short story writer Don Skiles, native to Western Pennsylvania, analyzes the role of football in Ralston through the experiences and observations of 10th-grade honor student and football candidate Larry Simmons, who himself is investigating the meaning of football to the townspeople, to the girls he and his buddies fantasize over but deem ‘unattainable,’ and to himself... After a long zig-zagging run, Skiles is in for the touchdown!”
Ned Coates, Sport Literature Association
Don Skiles is the author of Miss America and Other Stories, and The James Dean Jacket Story. His work has appeared recently in Quaartsiluni, Snowmonkey, Silenced Press, Over the Transom, MungBeing, and Chicago Quarterly Review. His poetry appears in three books from Viking Dog Press/Conehenge Studios (with the work of painter Claribel Cone): 18 Views of San Francisco, Sono Choushi! and Blue Rhapsody.