Synopses & Reviews
A spirited debut of a rising basketball star wrestling with his towns outsized expectations and his family's complicated legacy.
Everyone seems to know Jimmy Kamikaze” Kirkus, the half-white, half-Asian basketball sensation from small town Oregon. College coaches flood his mailbox with recruiting letters, Sports Illustrated has already profiled him, and everyone in town hangs on his every shot. But nobody can possibly fathom the weight of all this upon Jimmy's shoulders, or the looming legacy that casts a wide shadow.
Todd Freight Train” Kirkus seemed destined for the NBA until he impregnates Genny Mori, the tough yet fragile daughter of the only Japanese family in town. Dreams of stardom and riches are traded in for a hasty marriage and parenthood until tragedy slams the Kirkus family. Jimmy and his wisecracking little brother Dex are born into a broken family, one haunted by wasted talent, alcoholism, and death.
Like Chad Harbach's The Art of Fielding and Friday Night Lights (the book and cult television show), Timothy Lane's debut novel uses sports as a lens to understand family, community, catastrophe, passion, and hope. Populated with complex characters, Rules for Becoming a Legend is deftly written by an author who understands basketball as well as he understands the human condition.
"Jimmy Kirkus, the hero of Lane's debut novel, set in Columbia City, Ore., is a high school basketball prodigy on the brink of a crack-up. Practicing in the gym after an off day, his frustration growing, Jimmy begins to run at the gym's brick wall over and over again until he knocks himself unconscious. This incident earns the half-Japanese Jimmy the nickname Kamikaze Kirkus, and makes him a legend in his hometown. From here, the novel ranges backward and forward in time, each chapter indicating its relationship to this event: 'three years until the wall,' '74 days after the wall,' etc. It soon emerges that Jimmy is the son of another onetime basketball prodigy, Todd 'Freight Train' Kirkus, who was sidelined by injury and poor choices. Jimmy's Japanese mother is suffocating in her marriage, his mentally unbalanced grandfather is frequently homeless, and additional problems await the family. The prose and plot are serviceable, but the choppy structure obscures Jimmy's feelings and motivations, ensuring that nothing he endures makes as vivid an impression as that early scene in the gym. And even that bravura moment raises more questions than the novel ultimately answers. Agent: Rachael Dillon Fried, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“With Rules for Becoming a Legend basketball has its Friday Night Lights, Timothy S. Lane has a game-winner, and you get something to read ‘til you'll miss your subway stop. What makes for a squandered life? Can a man turn around who he is like he can turn around a jumpshot? This is a great basketball novel and more than just that. Lane writes about the universal by way of the bouncing, orange particular, and his book's a triumph.” Darin Strauss, author of More Than It Hurts You
"A slam dunk of a debut. Rules for Becoming a Legend speaks to heartland America with all the authenticity and pathos of great Springsteen song — it'll hit you like a brick wall." Jonathan Evison, author of West of Here and The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving
“Rules for Becoming a Legend is inventive, stylish, and moves straight to the heart. The story of would-be legend Jimmy 'Kamikaze' Kirkus is about so much more than high school basketball; it is a book about fathers and sons, expectations and disappointments, fame and infamy. Like Kamikaze Kirkus, Timothy S. Lane drives his superb debut novel straight at the wall, without flinching.” Kristopher Jansma, author of The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards
About the Author
Timothy S. Lane graduated from the University of Oregon with a journalism degree and worked as a sports reporter for The Molalla Pioneer before pursuing a career in publishing in New York City. His writing has appeared in The Good Men Project and Pology. He lives with his wife in Portland, Oregon.