The Whore of Akron, by Scott Raab

Right, so, as I’ve mentioned seemingly a lot lately, I call Cleveland, Ohio, my hometown. I grew up right in the middle of Cleveland and Akron, and I’m just about the same age as LeBron James, so even though I’ve never been a basketball person, I’ve been annoyed with LeBron James seemingly forever.

Not as annoyed as Scott Raab, though. I was promised that this book contained hate and vitriol, and whoever promised me that was absolutely not wrong. I think the title of the book is probably dropped into the text at least two or three times per chapter, and it is not the worst thing that Raab calls James.

What’s interesting and terrible about this book is how much I agree with Raab. Wait, hold on, I’m not talking about that last paragraph when I say that. Nor am I talking about the weird squicky parts of the book when Raab is getting, um, a hand, if you will, from his wife. Yes, that happens multiple times in Raab’s narrative, and no, I have no idea why anyone would write about something like that. But.

But. There is a large part of the book where Raab is simply talking about what it’s like to be a Cleveland fan — not a Cavs fan, not a Browns or Indians fan, definitely not a fan of LeBron James, but a Cleveland fan, and I am right there with him. Raab, with some extra profanity and grossness, paints a picture of what it’s like to root for a city, one that refuses to win a championship in any major sport and therefore win at being a city. It’s depressing and a little pathetic, sure, but it’s not something that can be turned off and it baffles Cleveland fans when people from Cleveland are Yankees fans (like LeBron) or, god forbid, Steelers fans (like my friend Steve). And sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that other people feel the same way I do, and it’s definitely nice to know that there are people who are batshit crazy and that I am not one of them. I think that’s the real takeaway here.

I inflicted this book on my book club, too, and I think everyone felt basically the same way — it was an okay book that suffered from being too much about Raab (it is technically a memoir, as James would obviously not sign off on this book) and not enough about its putative subject. But at the same time, I think I would have gotten sick of the hating on LeBron had there been nothing to dilute it. Meh.

And, just for the record, there’s “exercising free agency” and there’s “being a giant tool about it.”

Recommendation: Read this if you’ve ever been a little obsessed with something that really doesn’t matter, or if you haven’t had enough anger in your life lately.

Rating: 6/10