cover image Slo-Mo!: My Untrue Story

Slo-Mo!: My Untrue Story

Rick Reilly. Doubleday Books, $23.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-385-48884-6

An indescribable amalgam of Dave Barry, Jim Murray and Lew Grizzard, with the timing of Jay Leno and the wit of Johnny Carson, Reilly (Missing Links) may well be the funniest sportswriter in America. His second novel is an ""as told to"" biography of 17-year-old Maurice Finsternick, nicknamed Slo Mo, a 7'8"" true innocent raised in a weird, cave-dwelling cult in Colorado. Discovered by a crafty Roto-Rooter man who becomes his agent, Slo Mo is tricked into the NBA draft. He gets picked up as a starting rookie for New Jersey, playing under legendary coach Phil Jackson in a world of giant egomaniacal players, their agents, groupies and hangers-on. Slo Mo is the extremely na ve outsider, who understands nothing about his teammates' fascination with sex and cash; he's just waiting to be exploited. He has a hilarious malapropism for every occasion, along with a 30-foot, ambidextrous hook shot that could make him the best in the world. In a dead-on parody of the inner workings of big-time basketball, Reilly takes on the athletes themselves, the shoe company vultures, corrupt recruiters, alcohol-dazed sportswriters, sleazy agents and mindless fans. Real-life basketball players make appearances--Charles Barkley and Bryant ""Big Country"" Reeves--along with the fictitious Death Dedman, who resembles Dennis Rodman but is much more dangerous. Slo Mo searches diligently for his long-missing father, is tricked into hiring an entourage of Dedman's hoodlum friends (called the ""Crips,"" which Slo Mo mistakes for a family name instead of a gang) and falls in love with Lisa, the acrobatic daughter of the Spinning Stankowskis. Slo Mo eventually loses his na vet but never his innocence. There are touches of Being There and The Natural in this pseudo-autobiography that will bring tears of laughter once readers make the leap of faith and adjust to Slo Mo's tenacious, angelic personality. (Oct.) FYI: For five of the last six years, Reilly has been voted Sportswriter of the Year by his peers.