Tag Archives: Read this on a roadtrip between Rhode Island and Kansas

Stephen Florida

Thoughts by Gabe Habash, Coffee House Press 2017, 304 pages

Challenge: Tournament of Favorites

Genre/Theme: Contemporary Literature / Wrestling and/or Obsession

Type/Source: Tradeback / Indie Bookstore Purchase

What It’s About: A college wrestler in the 133 weight class is determined to win his division at the National competition. He is focused. He is unwavering. He is obsessed. He is lonely. As a friend of mine says, “He ain’t right.”

Life and the human condition are the exact same thing and it makes no difference, the design is sadness, gravitational and old, except the few times it hiccups and it’s not.

Thoughts: Wow.

I am just amazed and in such admiration of the construction of this novel. Tight, always on, never wavering. So many little WTF!s dropped in — did you see that? did that just happen? does he mean ___?!

I had attempted this and read just enough back in 2018 for that year’s Tournament of Books to know I wasn’t going to devote the necessary headspace to finish or give honest credit. So I bailed. Now it is on the list of the Tournament of Favorites so I decided to not only give it a fresh view but purchased it so that the author might know my intent was true (and forgive myself for the abandonment in 2018.)

I can’t really say I enjoyed this. A five slicer usually is one where I am joyously enthralled. That is NOT quite the case. But I did admire this as craft. And I don’t even really know what that means! I just think this is extremely impressive and can recommend to anyone who likes to read books that live in the mind of psychologically unhinged characters.

Rating: Five slices of pie.

“… telling the Minnesota kids ghost stories in exchange for their mom’s cherry pies.”


I didn’t learn anything I didn’t want to learn. It was a reality I wasn’t surprised by. When I met you I felt like someone was trying to make it up to me.


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