Book review: Heaven Is a Playground

Last week I finally got around to reading Rick Telander‘s Heaven Is a Playground.  It’s not a new book, and it had been on my Amazon wish list for a long time.  I was psyched to get it for my birthday last month.

The book is very good.  It’s a fascinating read if you like inner-city playground basketball culture, as I do.  Of course I’m mostly an observer, especially now that I don’t play much anymore.
I’ve seen a bunch of movies in this genre, and always enjoyed them.  In fact if I’m channel-surfing and any of these come on, I’ll probably stay down and watch them until they end: Heaven is a Playground (the movie), Above the Rim, He Got Game, Rebound, Soul in the Hole, Hoop Dreams, and there are a bunch more.  Many of the movies have references to Telander’s earlier work, implicit or explicit.
Telander’s writing is honest, easy to read, and engaging.  There’s no need to make up characters, as reality trumps the imagination in this context.  I kind of wish I could have been there with him, watching the players and the culture.
The book is an easy, engrossing read.  Highly recommended.