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The Throwback Special

Fiction: Sports / Literary
Unabridged   5.0 hour(s)
Publication date: 03/14/2016

2016 National Book Award Finalist
2016 Kirkus Best Book

The Throwback Special

Available from major retailers or BUY FROM AMAZON
Audio CD ISBN:9781681680040
Digital Download ISBN:9781681680057


A slyly profound and startlingly original novel about the psyche of the American male, The Throwback Special marks the return of one of the most acclaimed literary voices of his generation.

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Product Description

Here is the absorbing story of twenty-two men who gather every fall to painstakingly reenact what ESPN called "the most shocking play in NFL history" and the Washington Redskins dubbed the "Throwback Special": the November 1985 play in which the Redskins’ Joe Theismann had his leg horribly broken by Lawrence Taylor of the New York Giants live on Monday Night Football.

Chris Bachelder introduces us to Charles, a psychologist whose expertise is in high demand; George, a garrulous public librarian; Fat Michael, envied and despised by the others for being exquisitely fit; Jeff, a recently divorced man who has become a theorist of marriage; and more. Over the course of a weekend, the men reveal their secret hopes, fears, and passions as they choose roles, spend a long night of the soul preparing for the play, and finally enact their bizarre ritual for what may be the last time. Along the way, mishaps, misunderstandings, and grievances pile up, and the comforting traditions holding the group together threaten to give way.

The Throwback Special is a moving and comic tale filled with pitch-perfect observations about manhood, marriage, middle age, and the rituals we all enact as part of being alive.


"The narrator's role in this book is a descriptive one, and Bray is a good guide." —AudioFile

"What a brilliant book." —Kevin Wilson, author of The Family Fang

"A comic meditation about marriage, ritual, friendship, parenthood, aging, and unlikely obsessions. This is a funny, insightful, and surprisingly poignant book." —Julie Schumacher, bestselling author of Dear Committee Members

"A hilarious literary novel about our least hilarious-and least literary-national pastime. No one who reads it will ever be able to think about football, Joe Theismann, Lawrence Taylor, or indeed the male psyche in quite the same way again." —Tom Bissell, author of Extra Lives

"Chris Bachelder is a witty, compassionate troublemaker, and we need more like him." —George Saunders, bestselling author of Tenth of December

Author Bio

Chris Bachelder is the author of Bear v. Shark, U.S.!, and Abbott Awaits. His fiction and essays have appeared in McSweeney’s, The Believer, and the Paris Review. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Cincinnati, where he teaches at the University of Cincinnati.