Picks and Pans Review: Players and Pretenders

updated 11/30/1981 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/30/1981 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Charles Rosen

Bard College is 100 miles north of New York City, and this autumn the freshmen were told to show up three weeks early so that they could be taught how to write. But then, the school, whose best-known alum is Chevy Chase, has always had a reputation for doing things its own way. Rosen, a novelist (Have Jump Shot Will Travel), scholar of medieval literature and 6'8" semipro basketball player, decided that Bard would be the perfect place for him to coach. His basketball team there would seek the "spiritual radiance of the game." This book, recounting his year (1979-1980) as a coach, is a funny, tender Zen and the Art of Basketball Losing. Most of Rosen's players, some old hands and some totally inexperienced, wrote a short essay for the book during the season, and every one becomes an extraordinary character in Rosen's hands. He is a delightful writer, and for anyone who has ever tried to toss a basketball through a hoop, this book about a bunch of losers (season record: 1-16) is better than 20 nights in front of a TV set watching Doctor J slam-dunk his way through the NBA schedule. (Holt, Rinehart, Winston, $14.95)

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