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Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Road Trip Into the Heart of Fan Maniaby Warren St. John
Synopses & Reviews
What is it about sports that turns otherwise sane people into raving lunatics? Why does winning compel people to tear down goal posts, and losing, to drown themselves in bad keg beer? In short, why do fans care?
In search of answers, Warren St. John seeks out the roving community of RVers who follow the Alabama Crimson Tide from game to game. A movable feast of Weber grills and Igloo coolers, these are hard-core football fans who arrive on Wednesday for Saturday's game: The Reeses, who skipped their own daughter's wedding because it coincided with a Bama game; Ray Pradat, the Episcopal minister who watches the games on a television beside his altar while performing weddings; and John Ed, the wheeling and dealing ticket scalper whose access to good seats gives him power on par with the governor. In no time at all, St. John buys an RV (a $5,500 beater named The Hawg) and joins the caravan for a full football season, chronicling the world of the extreme fan and learning that in the shadow of the stadium, it can all begin to seem strangely normal.
Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer is not only a hilarious travel story, but a cultural anthropology of fans that goes a long way toward demystifying the universal urge to take sides and to win.
"St. John, a New York Times reporter and native Alabaman, explores the nature of extreme sports fandom in this compelling and funny audiobook. Over the course of five months, St. John follows the University of Alabama's football team in his own RV and connects with the 'RV culture,' fans for whom game day is simply the focal point of a celebration that can last for days. Some of the fans he encounters are indeed extreme — like the couple that skipped their daughter's wedding because it took place on game day, or the man who risks having his name taken off a heart transplant list, declaring 'If I can't go to Alabama football games, what's the point in living?' But St. John's focus is less on these eccentric characters than on the general culture, in which football fetishism has been completely integrated into everyday life. St. John has a pronounced lisp, which is jarring at first, but it quickly becomes endearing. And while his character voices all sound like variations on the loud-dumb-Southern-guy theme, he approaches his narration with the gusto and enthusiasm of a fervent fan, which succeeds in getting listeners into the spirit of this fun, insightful tale. Simultaneous release with the Crown hardcover (Forecasts, June 14)." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"With perfect balance and deadpan humor...St. John brings a journalist's clarified sense of detail and narration to his story....The portraits of his fellow Bama fans are sharp, sneaky-funny, but not unlovingly drawn." Booklist (Starred Review)
"Mr. St. John...can't pin down why fans behave like such fools....In the end, it is hard to be bothered by this omission because he writes so hilariously about such charmingly eccentric characters...Like college football itself, a road trip can be a pleasure pure and true." Franklin Foer, The New York Times Book Review
"An unreconstructed fan of Alabama football, exiled in New York, Warren St. John goes home to join the Crimson Tide's most rabid supporters as they roll across the South. His four-mile-a-gallon odyssey through the sun, suds, and stink of tailgate culture is a fresh and funny take on the American road trip — and an affectionate yet unsentimental look at Southern life, from belles who chug beer and bray from the stands, to fundamentalists who forgive any sin except a losing season. Like his hero, Bear Bryant, St. John has crafted a winner." Tony Horwitz, author of Confederates in the Attic
"What does it really mean to be a sports fan? For the millions of us who are, Warren St. John captures our passion with hilarity, absurdity and poignancy. He just gets our religion. And Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer is a marvelous journey into the soul of sports in America. A great ride in the tradition of Hunter Thompson and an even better read." H.G. "Buzz" Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights
"An ode to fandom." Newsweek
"Sports fandom is a phenomenon that has so far baffled the field of psychology. The professionals haven't a clue. They should read this book. Warren St. John takes us to where the rubber meets the road." Tom Wolfe
"St. John is never mocking and has no intention of turning the RVing Alabama football fan pack into a freak show....Existentialism of the purest sort — that is, it includes laughter." Kirkus Reviews
"A remarkable and funny book about obsession in America by a really fine writer." Gay Talese
Having purchased his very own RV and immersed himself in the life and crazy culture of Alabama Crimson Tide fans during the 1999 season, St. John pens a book about much more than football — it is an enduring memoir about sport and culture in the U.S.
About the Author
Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Warren St. John is currently a reporter for the New York Times. He has also written extensively for the New York Observer, The New Yorker, and Wired. He went to Columbia University and lives in New York.
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