Ever get just punched in the mouth by how awesome a book is? It happened to me, and it’s all Vox Media’s fault. They had the best sportswriters of a generation and they squandered them in the face of Covid. Not great for long term security of the writers who lost their gigs, but hugely great for those of us who apparently needed a novel about loving broken institutions.
Once the creators of The Sinful Seven, Spencer Hall, Richard Johnson, Jason Kirk, Alex Kirshner, and Tyson Whiting, announced that it was coming, I forked over. Sometimes, when some creatives who you truly respect and learn from constantly announce a thing, you shut up and give them the money. Especially when 20% of the proceeds are going to a great and unfortunately necessary cause.
Someone far better educated than I am is going to be able to take you through the plot and symbolism, the veracity of the viewpoint of the historical info, all those awesome lit class things that always bored me far more than completing the actual reading. Besides, this is a no spoilers article.
However, it is absolutely a fangirl article.Embed from Getty Images
The ridiculous history of America’s most incomprehensible model for sport is used as decor in a house built on a foundation of the serious history of how money and exploitation of (especially Black) athlete’s labor and the willingness of well-meaning people to f*ck everything up and not know it until its too late – or know it and not care at all.
Seven swings from fiction to non and back again. The story somehow transitions from football to basketball to the increasingly less wild west – a place that is home to a Cyclone in a black duster, to Wolf Packs and useless mayors, to Big Cow and Queen Aggie, heroism on trauma all being exploited by rich dudes for dumb reasons.
Let the team of creators go Ann M. or George R.R. Martin on this thing. I need dozens of novels to fuel a long-running Netflix series and several video games and to make this thing a cultural juggernaut that pulls in people who don’t like history or fantasy or westerns or sports but totally dig a well-crafted story.
Because we need this. We need to see our real heroes as superheroes sometimes, and then learn what made them bigger than life in an honest way. That the bad guy isn’t always the worst guy. That magic still exists, even in the messiest and most disingenuous of circumstances.
Go buy The Sinful Seven. Support something excellent.