cover image Blind Your Ponies

Blind Your Ponies

Stanley Gordon West, Algonquin, $14.95 trade paper (560p) ISBN 978-1-56512-984-9

In this originally self-published hit, the small town of Willow Creek, Mont., is the place where dreams go to die. English teacher and basketball coach Sam Pickett hasn't won a game in five seasons and decides to quit coaching, but he changes his mind after getting a look at the 6-ft.-11 Norwegian exchange student, Olaf Gustafson. Sam's other recruits include Tom Stonebreaker, whose drunken father would rather see him working the family farm, and Peter Strong, who moves in with his hippie grandmother after his parents' divorce and would rather be back home in Minnesota with his girlfriend. As the team coalesces around Olaf and begins winning games, their march toward the state tournament inspires Willow Creek and ignites a touching romance between Sam and his assistant coach. If the novel is a little too long, its sentiments worn too shamelessly on its sleeve, and its symbolism a little too obvious (Sam dubs the team bus "Rozinante" in honor of Don Quixote's steed), this uplifting story about the triumph of human decency is sure to be enjoyed by those who fondly recall another David vs. Goliath roundball yarn—Hoosiers. (Jan.)