Friday, August 25, 2006


I'm still working my way through my pile of books to review. I have to read and review one more that arrived several weeks ago, then I can get to the one that arrived last week. After that, I will get to the one that should arrive any day now. Then . . .

Author: Robert Gussin
Publisher: Oceanview Publishing
ISBN: 1-933515-04-X

Violence in major league sports is not unusual. Athletes fight each other. Fans fight each other. Athletes and fans fight each other. Is there a feasible way to reform the culture of sports and eliminate all of this violence? In Trash Talk, Robert Gussin offers a humorous solution by imagining what could happen if several hundred professional athletes spent four days with several hundred environmentalists.

This meeting of brains and brawn is brought about through a hilarious coincidence. The commissioners of the four major American professional sports (baseball, basketball, football and hockey) have declared that all major league athletes must attend at least one educational seminar each year. When an athlete discovers an advertisement for a conference entitled, Trash Talk, he thinks he’s found the perfect solution. Expecting to learn more about the art of trash talking their opponents, hundreds of athletes register for the conference. They are baffled and angry when they find themselves amidst hundreds of environmentalists who intend to discuss the dilemmas of rubbish management. A joint committee of athletes and environmentalists imaginatively resolves the conflicting agendas of the two groups.

While I found Gussin’s book entertaining, I was disappointed by a couple aspects of the story. First, Gussin builds his dilemma by catering to stereotypes. The athletes are portrayed as dumb jocks and the environmentalists are portrayed as geeks. While these stereotypes lend themselves to some humorous scenarios, they are shallow and they do not render the characters believable.

Second, Gussin mentions a number of substantial environmental concerns but does not provide insight into any of them. If Gussin had focused more deeply on some of these issues, the book would have been more engaging. Since Gussin’s stated intention was to “[infuse] humor into stories about serious topics,” I assume he had hoped to educate, as well as entertain, his readers. He succeeds in entertaining but misses the mark on education.

Overall, Trash Talk is amusing and may be suitable as a book to read at the beach or by the poolside.

No comments: