A moving, lyrical, eye-opening look at the true nature of intimacy among men.
The L.A. riots had an indelible effect upon the city of Los Angeles, upon the wider debate in this country about race, and especially -- in the pages of this wonderful memoir -- on ten weekend basketball players. After the riots, and once he'd fled his mid-city home for the relative safety of suburban Santa Monica, Alan Eisenstock at last found himself with a driveway that was big enough for a weekly basketball game. For years he'd yearned for this; now all that stood between him and the zone defense was the fruits of the carob tree that fell on the driveway and threatened to ruin the game. Once the surface was clear, however, Sundays were given over to a raucous, competitive, and hilarious series of ball games. But what began as a recreation soon became a chance to shatter the Boy Code once and for all.
So here they are: doctors, lawyers, writers, construction guys -- some single, some married -- all, however, committed to the game they're playing, and to the deepening of friendships the time together engenders. Along the way there's a fight and a falling-out; the tragic death of one of the guys' wives; a trip to Mexico that's right out of a buddy movie, except that these early-middle-aged men end up in bed by 9:30 P.M.; a laugh-out-loud karaoke session that has to be read to be believed; and more bagels than any book should ever be able to bear.
Holding it all together is Alan Eisenstock himself. His own personal journey from unhappy, stressed-out screenwriter to full-fledged, fulfilled book writer is the story of a man risking his financial and emotional life in order to follow his heart. And what begins as a weekly ritual of game-playing becomes, over five years, a meaningful exchange on marital issues, money worries, and the onset of various midlife crises. The result is a lovely, whimsical, and hilarious book about guys and what they talk about when their better halves are not around.
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April 30, 2003
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Excerpt from Ten on Sunday by Alan Eisenstock
It is spring of 1992. Even though a videotape clearly shows four Caucasian police officers brutally beating and kicking an African-American man named Rodney King, the all-white jury delivers a verdict of not guilty. The four officers are freed. Outraged, people in South Central Los Angeles begin to burn the city down. They set fires and loot stores in their own neighborhoods, then head north toward other areas, such as Hancock Park, where I live.
Less than a mile away from me, buildings burst into flame, windows exploding, panes of glass dissolving into powder. Looters lug television sets out of the rubble that was once an appliance store and dodge police in riot gear. Fear grips my street. People I know, friends and neighbors, reveal that they are armed with handguns and rifles. They are going to keep watch at their front windows and they are going to wait.
"Lock and load," a neighbor tells me.
I have no weapon. I stand guard in my living room, staring in disbelief at the news on television. In the sky above me, helicopters hover, circling rooftops with flames that lunge at their metal bellies. Samy's Camera, five blocks away, shines fiery in the moonlight as a throng of rioters tromp through what was once the showroom, hauling off the entire contents of the store. I move outside to my driveway and watch white ash from Samy's flutter onto the hood of my car like snowflakes.
While my children sleep, I pace, ears cocked to the sound of sirens and blasts I'm sure are gunshots. In the morning, an eerie silence shadows me as I crunch across small hills of glass along the curb. Every car parked on my street has had its windows smashed. I decide to take my family -- my wife, two children, and my cousin -- and flee. I call for hotel reservations in Santa Barbara. Every hotel is booked. My last call is to the Pancho Villa, a sprawling Spanish hacienda on several rolling green acres.