Where Dreams Die Hard: A Small American Town and Its Six-Man Football Team
Carlton Stowers. Da Capo Press, $22.95 (205pp) ISBN 978-0-306-81404-4
In tiny Penelope, Texas, population 211, six-man football rules. The game is a scaled-down version of the more common 11-man version, originally designed in the 1930s by a Nebraska coach who wanted small, rural schools to be able to have football teams. Fast forward to today, and six-man football thrives in small Texas communities, where it's played among high schools that have fewer than 99 students. Stowers, a Texas journalist, went to Penelope to observe the world of small-town, small-team football. He intersperses his observations of football practices with interviews with various members of the community, and in doing so paints a picture of present-day rural life. The book poses questions surrounding the survival of small towns, as Stowers himself wonders whether the students he's observing will actually stay in Penelope. Although at times Stowers's narrative could use more visual description to really evoke the place he's writing about, the book is a glimpse into a small town rallying around a cause, and a look at a way of life that city dwellers rarely see.
Reviewed on: 08/01/2005