Friday, February 20, 2009

My review of 'Confessions of a She-Fan'

Being a Yankee fan can sometimes resemble being in a marriage. There are great moments as well as infuriating ones. But did you ever want to divorce the Yankees? Jane Heller did, and she writes about it in her new book, "Confessions of a She-Fan: The Course of True Love With the New York Yankees."

Heller, the best-selling author of 13 novels, was a fed-up West Coast Yankee fan in the spring of 2007 , when the Yanks got off to yet another sluggish start. And her frustration bubbled over during the Subway Series game where Darrell Rasner broke his finger. Jane writes:
It is this particular game that unravels me. In the fourth inning, I explode in frustration - I want to rip the plasma screen off the wall. I start flinging objects everywhere - the TV remote, a copy of Newsweek, a hunk of Gorgonzola from my Cobb salad. The cheese lands in [husband] Michael's beard and nests there.

"What's the matter with you!" he shouts. You're being a complete *******!"

"It's the Yankees fault."

I am being an *******. But I feel betrayed by these 2007 Yankees.
(Note: Squawker Jon and I were at that game, and while I didn't throw any cheese around, I was cursing a lot! That was the game where Robinson Cano made three errors, and did his whole nonchalant thing. It was a definite low point to the beginning of that season.)

I remember I wrote a few angry Squawker blog entries after that game. Jane did some writing of her own as well, but it turned out to be on a much bigger scale.

She was so ticked off after the game that she decided to write an essay about how she was divorcing the Yanks on the grounds of mental cruelty. Just for the heck of it, she sent the piece to Harvey Araton of the New York Times. He ended up passing it on to NYTimes sports editor Tom Jolly, who ran the article, entitled To Love and to Cherish for All Eternity, in the Sunday Times' sports section.

The piece caused a huge stir - it was the Times' most emailed and discussed story for that week. While some people loved the article, other fans, including this one, were peeved over it. Divorce the Yankees? Never! I remember griping to Squawker Jon at the time about that piece because I was outraged over the very idea of divorcing the Yanks.

Heller, who was perceived as a bandwagon fan thanks to the article, was stung by the negative reaction. She wanted to "prove to [her] detractors" that she is "a true fan." So she ends up following the team around for the last two months of the regular season.

The stories of what Jane - and her patient husband, who is along for the road trips - see at the games provide most of the narrative of "Confessions." Jane also talks with a bunch of the people around the Yanks - announcers, beat reporters, and columnist - and she promises her book publisher she'll get to interview a Yankee to give her book a player's insight.

You'll have to read the book to see if she gets to talk to a Yankee, but Heller does succeed in proving her fan credentials. "Confessions of a She-Fan" is passionate, funny, smart, and sassy. It's not just an accurate depiction of the highlights (A-Rod's 500th homer and lowlights (the bug game!) of the 2007 season, but it's a great look at what it is like to be a fan.

While the book is from a female Yankee fan's perspective, the observations will hit home, whether you're male or female, and whether you're a Yankee fan, Met fan, or (shudder!) a Red Sox fan. Heller hits a homer with her first non-fiction effort.

Full disclosure - Heller had already won me over this winter with her Confessions of a She-Fan blog, and after I wrote her saying so, we've been corresponding ever since, and she's been posting here on the Squawkers as She-Fan. While we haven't "met" in person yet, I have read several of her novels since talking to her online - her fiction books are smart screwball comedic reads - and think she's got a great personality. And that personality comes through in "Confessions of a She-Fan."

You can read an excerpt of Jane Heller's "Confessions of a She-Fan" here, and purchase it here. Click here to read Heller's Yankee blog.

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