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Make It, Take It

San Antonio Express-News

With March madness upon us, Rus Bradburd's unsettling debut novel, “Make It Take It,” is the literary equivalent of a basket at the buzzer — a real nail-biter. Bradburd, a coach at the University of Texas at El Paso and New Mexico State University for 14 seasons before turning to writing with a master's of fine arts degree, seats readers on the bench next to the hundreds of assistant college coaches who labor in the shadow of the head coach. Steve Pytel is an aging, passed-over assistant whose marriage is falling apart because he's never home, whose recruits need a baby sitter more than a teacher, whose job constantly teeters on the cliff's edge at the whim of the aptly named Jack Hood, a portrait of coaching corruption and unethical — heck, illegal — behavior that college ball fans must hope is the exception and far from the rule. Bradburd's vision — through Pytel — of big-time sports is cynical and rather bleak, which, in its own way, is refreshing. Where most sports books are triumphant and heroic, not to mention sentimental and sappy, Bradburd's confident, savvy debut is more in the vein of “North Dallas Forty,” a letter from the locker room with no contrived winners or losers. The clear victor here is the reader.
- March 17, 2013  Visit Website

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