I didn’t know who Chris Kluwe was until his wrote his amazing piece for Deadspin that many know as Lustful Cockmonsters. Maryland state delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. wrote an open letter to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti asking him to force his players to shut up about civil rights. Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo spoke out in favor of gay marriage and Burns decided he should use his position to try and silence free speech. It was disgusting.
Kluwe’s response was beautiful. Click that title up there and read it if you haven’t. I respect a man who uses “Holy fucking shitballs” when making an informed argument.
As his response exploded all over the internet, I found his twitter account (@ChrisWarcraft) and found out he was in a band AND was a gamer. Holy shit, this guy was awesome. NFL punter AND a nerd? Fuck yeah.
When I found out he was writing a book I was super excited. Here’s a guy who is smart, loves to read, plays games, and has a realistic understanding of how an NFL career works. I heard him on a few podcasts and he’s really funny and clearly does his research about things that are important to him. I especially like his attitude about the NFL and how it doesn’t last forever and you better have backup plans.
I really wanted to love this book, but it was just a solid OK. He chose a few pieces that had already been published and I agreed with those choices. For a few of them he added commentary or quick notes about things that have changed since the original publication.
Like all collections, there are going to be some parts that you like more than others. For me, the fiction all fell flat. Kluwe is incredibly smart and well read and unfortunately it didn’t come across in his fiction. There were too many times I felt like he was trying too hard. It felt like he was jumping up and down and waving his arms while yelling “Look! Look what I did here! Do you see how clever it is? Right here? Look at how clever I am being! Wink wink, nudge nudge!” It bummed me out because he really is clever. I can listen to him on a podcast or giving an interview and it’s great, but when it comes to his fiction, it fell apart. (Check him out on The Colbert Report. It’s worth the internet time.)
My favorite chapters were the ones about football and I think it’s because he’s got such a great attitude about it. He understands the limitations of the job and knows that it will end. For him, it is a job, not his entire life. He has a family to spend time with and books to read and video games to play and band practice to get to. Yes, he loves the sport, but his life isn’t going to stop when he’s no longer playing. This is a good attitude to have, especially since he was released by the Vikings in May and was then released be the Raiders a few weeks ago. For some people, they’d be done. For Kluwe, he knows this is how things work.
Overall I was disappointed with the book. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but this wasn’t it. I know he will continue to fight hate and ignorance and I’m glad he’s out there. Right now he’s probably 15 hours in to GTA:V but at some point he’ll put the controller down, go to sleep, and then reemerge to fight the good fight.
PS: Lollygagger wrote a great review of this book on the Cannonball Read blog. I agree with it and wanted to steal it for my own.