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The Downhill Lie: A Hacker's Return to a Ruinous Sportby Carl Hiaasen
Synopses & Reviews
Ever wonder how to retrieve a sunken golf cart from a snake-infested lake? Or which club in your bag is best suited for combat against a horde of rats? If these and other sporting questions are gnawing at you, The Downhill Lie, Carl Hiaasen's hilarious confessional about returning to the fairways after a thirty-two-year absence, is definitely the book for you.
Originally drawn to the game by his father, Carl wisely quit golfing in 1973, when "Richard Nixon was hunkered down like a meth-crazed badger in the White House, Hank Aaron was one dinger shy of Babe Ruth's all-time home run record, and The Who had just released Quadrophenia." But some ambitions refuse to die, and as the years — and memories of shanked 7-irons — faded, it dawned on Carl that there might be one thing in life he could do better in middle age than he could as a youth. So gradually he ventured back to the dreaded driving range, this time as the father of a five-year-old son — and also as a grandfather.
"What possesses a man to return in midlife to a game at which he'd never excelled in his prime, and which in fact had dealt him mostly failure, angst and exasperation? Here's why I did it: I'm one sick bastard."
And thus we have Carl's foray into a world of baffling titanium technology, high-priced golf gurus, bizarre infomercial gimmicks and the mind-bending phenomenon of Tiger Woods; a maddening universe of hooks and slices where Carl ultimately — and foolishly — agrees to compete in a country-club tournament against players who can actually hit the ball. "That's the secret of the sport's infernal seduction," he writes. "It surrenders just enough good shots to let you talk yourself out of quitting."
Hiaasen's chronicle of his shaky return to this bedeviling pastime and the ensuing demolition of his self-esteem — culminating with the savage 45-hole tournament — will have you rolling with laughter. Yet the bittersweet memories of playing with his own father and the glow he feels when watching his own young son belt the ball down the fairway will also touch your heart. Forget Tiger, Phil and Ernie. If you want to understand the true lure of golf, turn to Carl Hiaasen, who has written an extraordinary book for the ordinary hacker.
"Hiaasen (Skinny Dip), an admittedly woeful golfer, recounts his clumsy resumption of the game after a 32-year layoff. Why did he take up golf so long after quitting at the age of 20? 'I'm one sick bastard,' he writes. Hiaasen interweaves passages about his return to the game with diary entries covering more than a year and a half on the links. He mixes childhood memories of playing with his father, who died prematurely, with anecdotes, including the time he and a friend ejected an invasion of poisonous toads from his friend's patio with short irons. His analysis of his lessons, hapless rounds and gimmicky golf equipment is hilarious, and his vivid descriptions are vintage Hiaasen, such as golf balls that are designed to 'run like a scalded gerbil.' Hiaasen also touches on topics he writes about in his novels and newspaper columns, lamenting the overdevelopment of Florida and skewering crooked politicians and lobbyists prone to lavish golf junkets. He finishes his journey with a detailed round-by-round account of his pitiful play in a member-guest tournament on his home course (his discouragement is cheered, however, when his wife and young son joyfully take up the game). With the satirically skilled Hiaasen, who rarely breaks 90 on the links, this narrative is an enjoyable ride." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"What makes Hiaasen's 577-day diary...so appealing is its everyman aspect: average golfers have a lifetime of frustrations to match Hiaasen's telescoped experience..." Booklist
"For sheer entertainment, The Downhill Lie is a very good read." Library Journal
Hiaasen's chronicle of his shaky return to the bedeviling pastime of golf — culminating with the savage 45-hole tournament — will have readers rolling with laughter in this extraordinary book for the ordinary hacker.
About the Author
Carl Hiaasen was born and raised in Florida. He is the author of fourteen novels and two children's books. He also writes a weekly column for The Miami Herald.
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