The Best There Ever Was

John Ed Bradley, Author Atlantic Monthly Press $19.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-87113-384-7
Boozing, ornery Harold Gravely was the best college football coach of his generation, but now, in his final season, he's a dinosaur, reveling in his past glory while losing every game. Fans and alumni clamor for his resignation. Diagnosed with lung cancer, Gravely, who's having an affair with his secretary, turns this death sentence to his tactical advantage. Yet he musters only fitful support from his wife, Rena, who's torn between love and anger, frustrated in their childless marriage and burdened with guilt over her unacknowledged role in a 30-year-old murder case involving Harold's former star player. Bradley, whose Tupelo Nights was well reviewed, stumbles with this maudlin tale whose larger-than-life hero would fit better in a made-for-TV movie. Two surprise twists (one of them improbable) jerk the story out of sentimentality, but they come too late. The resilient prose captures the football mystique, the locker-room banter, the bluster of an old fighter. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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