I am starting to believe that there is no subject Joe Queenan can't make interesting. The blisteringly witty essayist has taken on everything from crap culture (Red Lobster, White Trash and Blue Lagoon) to crappy movies (Confessions of a Cineplex Heckler) to the corruption of baby boomers (Balsamic Dreams). Now Queenan has tackled the prickly world diehard sports fans, with the hilarious True Believers: The Tragic Inner Life of Sports Fans.
In a series of essays, he takes on nearly every aspect of rooting for the home team (or your father's team), from the crushing humiliation of watching your team lose week after week and year after year to frustrating "fans" who only root for teams that are winning to idiotic fans who moon the stadium and "accidentally" smack people in the head while supporting their team.
Each chapter is insightful, particularly the wry "Fans Who Know the Score," which provides a list of guidelines for being a sports fan (the wittiest: "Do not root for people like Anna Kournikova"; the wisest: "Don't expect the players to be any better than they are. Be happy that they aren't worse").
While I am not the sports junkie Queenan is, his essays have the sting of truth about them. I remember when I was in eighth grade and my then-beloved Detroit Pistons lost a series to the Chicago Bulls and missed out on their third championship in a row. Even though they had done reasonably well that year and just come off of back-to-back championships, I was devastated. Everyone I knew felt they had been horribly cheated. They took a long time to recover. I never did.
But even if you've never felt that, Queenan is so funny and accessible that he's nearly impossible not to enjoy.