A Former Basketball Player Playing With His Kids – Short Story Book Review

Now then, as a former athlete, I know a thing or two about discussing glory days. Those times in our life when we were younger, playing sports, and had everything under control. Our bodies were full of agility, adrenaline, and testosterone. We were fearless, unstoppable, and best of all we knew it. We realized that we could will events to occur, that nothing was impossible, and that we would never get hurt, that nothing would happen to us. Of course, as you grow older, and experience more in sports, the competition gets tougher and you realize that you actually can get hurt, seriously in fact.

Not long ago I read a very interesting short story that reminded me of this, of the glory days. The name of the short story is; “Two on Two” by Brain Doyle, who is also the Editor of the Portland Magazine, University of Oregon at Portland. It indeed talks about a father who remembers a time when he was a basketball star, he reflects back on his own glory days; playing basketball in the park, in high school, and college, and eventually getting hurt and tweaking his back. It’s as if he wants to relive this vicariously through his own children, even though they are only ages one and two, so he plays with them on the driveway, with a small plastic basketball hoop not more than 3 feet high.

In this story he notes that he is sitting down about 8 feet away from the basket, he dribbles the ball a couple of times, and his kids try to grab it out of his hands. He then puts it behind his back, and one of his kids pulls his hair, the other reaches around and tugs on the ball, eventually he is able to get away from them, and as he tries to shoot, they are still all over him. As he reflects back, he also reflects forward, thinking that he wished he had a dad like that, one who played with him when he was growing up. He wonders if his kids will also become sports stars like he had.

It’s quite a touching story for a dad, for a father of very young children, wondering if he can become a great father, perhaps making up for his own dad’s shortcomings. How often do you think this happens in real life? Probably more than it should, and I think that’s what makes this story so memorable. It truly puts us in another man’s shoes, from his perspective of going from athlete, to injured, to father. Please consider all this and think on it.

When Mom Came To Live With Us – A Short Story Review

It seems every family has a story about how one of their parents came home to live with them in their old age. This is becoming more and more common in our society as the baby boomers grow into their older years and as healthcare costs and in-home nursing skyrockets in price. Not long ago, I read a very interesting short story by Priscilla Hodgkins titled; “Einstein Didn’t Dream of My Mother,” and I’d like to recommend this story to you because it is an insight into the reality of how the mind tends to slow as folks get older.

This story talks about a mother whose memories, wishes, and dreams often got mashed together in her mind. Sometimes what she says doesn’t make sense to anyone listening, but she’ll tell the stories over and over again. Her dreams are vivid and realistic, and she enjoys them as much as her wakeful state. She forgets things, and must be reminded the next day, and in this story the mother has several strokes, sometimes they come in clusters, and sometimes they come on one by one. This real-life story talks about ambulance rides and sheer terror of the family worried that their mother might have had her last stroke, that this might be the end.

Today of course scientists are doing their utmost with public funding of research dollars to solve some of these challenges of the mind in old age, but that won’t help people in the present, or people who have finally let go in the past. As one loses their mind, their memories become vaguer, more mixed up, and eventually they lose their ability to move their bodies, talk, swallow, and even eat. These are tough times to watch a loved one grow old and senile. Nevertheless, many of us will not be so sharp in the mind in those final days, days which may turn into weeks, months, years, or even a decade or more under the care and supervision of family.

For anyone going through this right now this is a great short story to read. It also might help people understand what they might be dealing with in the future when a parent comes back to live with them. The story was full of empathy, philosophy, and heartfelt emotion. It’s a great read, and although it is quite short, it certainly puts you there in that place and time, a more common occurrence in our society than ever before. Indeed I think you might enjoy very much reading it. Please consider all this.

Book Review – The Dog Thief: And Other Stories by Jill Kearney

It is often hard to describe the intricate relationships between animals and their humans. In her book, “The Dog Thief: And Other Stories,” Jill Kearney has no such issue, delivering a poignant collection of short stories that pull at your heartstrings, leaving imprints not likely to fade when the reading is finished.

Inspired by her own experiences working as a care provider and dog rescuer, Kearney spins the narratives of people forgotten or displaced by society, and the animals that place their trust in them. In her own words, “I’m interested in the lives of people who feel like they don’t matter to anyone.” This statement truly echoes throughout the book.

The collection begins with the self-titled novella, The Dog Thief, in which neighbors of a downtrodden community band together to rescue a couple of dogs from their neglectful owner. Donald, the owner of the dogs, actually inherits the dogs upon the death of his mother and then later, his sister. Donald is lazy and neglectful toward the dogs, yet one gets the impression he feels duty-bound to keep them. His protectiveness of the dogs however belies any regard he has toward their well-being, placing his mental capacity into question, at least for this reader. The author also weaves riveting subplots into the story as we follow Donald’s neighbors in their efforts to help. Dealing with the injustices and the confines of their environment, Elizabeth, Blacksnake, The One-Eyed Woman, and others provide intriguing viewpoints of the complex issues they encounter as they learn first-hand how seemingly insignificant acts can make a difference in the world.

The short stories that follow the novella are just as captivating, each one striking a chord within, causing a need to stop for contemplation before moving onto the next. I was so drawn by some of the characters and the ways I could feel what they were feeling and going through, I actually read several of the stories twice.

Kearney’s writing is passionate, straightforward and direct. Foregoing the need to placate the reader with sugar-coated narrative, her voice and certain outspoken nature tells it like it is, with a wit and freshness that is as charming and endearing as it is haunting and discomforting. Seriously, there is no way one can help but be moved by these stories. Some of the most paltry surroundings, places I could never have imagined, became clear and distinct in my mind through the vivid and rich descriptions presented by the author.

Heartbreak, helplessness, hope, and inspiration – these words only hint at the range of sensations readers will feel in these pages. “The Dog Thief: And Other Stories,” by Jill Kearney is a book I highly recommend. Pet and human advocates will be hard pressed to put this book down as Kearney provides an insightful look into what truly matters.