Thursday, February 16, 2006

Wanting to Wonder

I'm about 90 pages into Will Blythe's new book about the Duke-North Carolina basketball rivalry, which my company is publishing (it's available to you mere mortals at the end of the month). When I was about nine years old, living in southern Long Island, I became, for reasons that are lost to time, an obsessive UNC basketball fan. (At the very least, I know that Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is still the most mellifluous place name I've come across. I suppose this alone made loyalty to it seem righteous.) From 12 to about 24, my devotion to the Tar Heels approached the level of Reason for Concern, and it remains slightly radioactive to this day.

Blythe can write, and he's a nut about the rivalry (an objective take on things wouldn't be half as entertaining; the author's on my side, the side of the angels). But I bring the book up now mostly because of a paragraph very early on, when Blythe, whose father had recently passed away, is suffering through the final moments of a Duke-UNC tilt and considering whether his father's spirit is watching it along with him. The last two sentences go a good way towards summing up my world view:
Duke had one last chance. Chris Duhon hoisted a shot from near midcourt, and as time expired, the ball bounded off the back rim. Too close for comfort, but off just enough for jubilation. North Carolina triumphed, 85 to 83. I'm not the type of guy to point up to the sky at a dead relative the way many athletes do these days. But I wondered. Or, anyway, I wanted to wonder.

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