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Audiobook Review: A Few Seconds of Panic by Stefan Fatsis

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Title: A Few Seconds of Panic
Author: Stefan Fatsis
Genre/Format: Literary Journalism/Audiobook
Year: 2008
Acquired: Library
Rating: ★★★½☆

Summary: Stefan Fatsis, a 5-foot-8, 170-pound, 43-year-old sportswriter, wanted to find out what it’s like to play in the NFL. So he became a kicker and joined the Broncos.

Book Review: In this book, Fatsis is echoing the work of classic sportswriter George Plimpton who joined the Detroit Lions in the 1960s to write his book Paper Lion. Given Fatsis’ size, age, and changes in the NFL, the only position he had a chance at was NFL kicker, so he went to kicker training and tried to get almost every team to take him during mini-camp and pre-season training camp. Finally, the Denver Broncos agreed.

In general, this is a very football-focused book — similar to The Blind Side. It’s probably not something someone who doesn’t enjoy football would get or enjoy. But as I’ve mentioned, I love football, so it worked for me.

If one thing sticks out from the book, it’s just how tough the NFL can be emotionally and physically. Unlike other sports, football doesn’t have guaranteed contracts which means players can come and go without warning. Players go all out for training camp, then can be cut for almost no reason. This happens a lot to the lesser-known and more disposable players.

Fatsis takes on the NFL from a player’s perspective and profiles a lot of other players — most that won’t get contracts after the pre-season and will spend time floating through the NFL trying to make it in. This makes the book a bit of a downer at times, but ultimately more realistic than the types of football stories that get profiled in mainstream media. I can appreciate that, even if I’m more cynical about the NFL than I was before this book.

Audio Review: This book was read by the author, and I enjoyed that. Fatsis did a good job, especially in expressing his nervousness and excitement being a player in the NFL. I really appreciate that added depth to personal narrations.

The book is very, very quote heavy though, and Fatsis doesn’t do a great job distinguishing quotes from his writing. In book form I’m sure this would be find, but it’s hard in audio. A voice actor might have been better at this than the author was. Still, it was nothing I’d have stopped listening to because of, and recommend this book for football fans.

Other Reviews:

If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • bermudaonion (Kathy) June 23, 2010, 8:54 am

    This does sound fascinating! I can’t imagine playing in the NFL at that age.

    • Kim June 24, 2010, 4:23 pm

      bermudaonion: I can’t either. It took a lot for him to do it — a lot of prep work and practice and pain. And he was never awesome, but definitely respectable.

  • Jen - Devourer of Books June 23, 2010, 9:47 am

    I had no idea that the NFL doesn’t have a guaranteed contract! It does sound like this might have been even better with a more experienced narrator. Sometimes the author’s narration works, sometimes it really doesn’t.

    • Kim June 24, 2010, 4:24 pm

      Yeah, that was crazy to me too. And without a guaranteed contract, players can play through camp then be cut, or be cut any time during the season only to be picked up again just a few games later.

      And his narration worked for parts, but with all the quotes a voice actor who could distinguish more would have helped.

  • Jason Bates June 23, 2010, 12:01 pm

    Kim, I’m glad to learn that you “love football”; that fact combined with your love of books may mean that you are my ideal woman. There’s really only one way to test that theory.

    Jokes Jokes. But that’s awesome that you love football. I can suggest a few good books about it and advise against a few bad ones. Please let me know if you’re interested. In the books.

    Jokes again. Ha.

    • Kim June 24, 2010, 4:25 pm

      Jason: Lol. This made me smile 🙂 I’d love more football book suggestions. I’m coming up with a couple future Narrative Nonfiction 5’s on the topic, so that’d help.

  • Just Mom June 23, 2010, 3:46 pm

    Thsi sounds interesting and different! I know what you mean about the quotes gettign mixed in – Into the Wild was the same way for me – kept wondering if in print, perhaps he changed fonts or something to delineate – hard on audio!

    • Kim June 24, 2010, 4:26 pm

      Just Mom: I think anything with lots of long quotes gets to be a challenge if there’s not something to differentiate. If I remember Into the Wild, there’s lots of journal passages and stuff — I bet in the text they get set off better.