cover image Be Sweet: A Conditional Love Story

Be Sweet: A Conditional Love Story

Roy Blount, jr. / Author Alfred A. Knopf $24 (289p) ISBN 978-0

With bylines in 117 publications (e.g., Sports Illustrated, the New Yorker), 14 books (Crackers) and a Hollywood movie (Larger Than Life) to his credit, Blount has become a kind of ultimate freelance writer, maximizing his extraordinary ability to spin a funny phrase and tell a humorous story. Worried about turning 55--""roughly the age when humorists stop being funny""--he has added more heft to his writing, peppering his sharp wit with introspection and self-analysis. But the mix proves uneven. Blount is frequently hilarious and poignant, even with cast-off lines--""They tell you to `stay within yourself' in sports,... but that was too depressing a prospect for me""--and the roundup of his writing career and greenroom anecdotes from days as a regular guest on late-night talk shows are amusing. But Blount also lays bare a mother-complex that seems obsessive. It's tiresome to be continually reminded of a woman who is as exasperating in death as she was in life. But Blount soldiers on with grim memories of his upbringing at nearly every turn. He speaks with his usual clear and engaging voice, but this sometimes moving, occasionally tedious memoir shows a side of Blount that is surprisingly dark. (June)