Football, I think it’s fair to say, is primal. Speed and strength and aggressive ferocity matter. Coaches like to talk about game plans and strategy, but nine times out of ten, the faster, stronger players win. And make no mistake, winning is everything. There may be talk of building character and lessons learned in losing, but such subtleties are just that – talk. It’s a man’s game, in every sense of the archaic phrase.
So it is with Andrew Spradling’s novel, The Long Shadow of Hope.
His prologue paints the scene. If you’ve ever watched a college football pre-game show, you’ve seen it. The fans, the cheerleaders, the tailgating – and the players who still display a naive enthusiasm for a multi-billion dollar business that masquerades as a game.
Spradling’s book is a behind-the-scenes look into that world. There’s no Rudy who sticks with the game against all odds. There’s no underdog team battling for a championship. It’s a story of how selfishness and greed can ruin lives and it’s told with the same direct, unflinching fierceness that is on full display on Saturday afternoons every fall.
In Long Shadow, story is everything. It’s pretty clear who the good guys and bad guys are. In fact, Chap Roberts is one of the more despicable characters I’ve met in a long time and he has little time for inner reflection. And the men in Long Shadow, being the primal sorts that they are, are susceptible to the lure of illicit relationships and their encounters are described with direct clarity. Things are happening, surprises are brewing, and there are more twists in the story than the road up Lookout Mountain.
Like a good football game, you don’t know who is going to win until the end. It will leave you shaking your head, and hoping that college football isn’t really that bad.
The Long Shadow of Hope. Find it now on Amazon.