[Audio] Chris Bachelder Reads from his Recent Novel The Throwback Special Tonight at MSU
Murray State University MFA Program Director Carrie Jerrell speaks with writer Chris Bachelder who will read at MSU this evening at 7:30 in the Curris Center Barkley Room as part of the Murray State MFA Program's residency week.
Chris Bachelder teaches at the University of Cincinnati and is the author of four novels. His short fiction and essays have appeared in McSweeney's, The Believer, Oxford American and other publications. His most recent novel, The Throwback Special was a National Book Award Finalist and winner of the Paris Review's Terry Southern Prize for Humor. It tells the story of a group of men who gather each year to reenact a play from 1985 Monday Night Football in which Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann gruesomely broke his leg.Bachelder says that shocking play has stuck with him since he watched the game as a 14-year-old. He realizes now that the moment lingers with him because of nostalgia.
“It had to do with somebody looking back on the play and thinking about it from a distance,” Bachelder said. “And it had to do, as I came to understand as I wrote the book, it had to do with ritual and belonging, certainly masculinity, but maybe even religion…. I ended up exploring way beyond football and way beyond the play.”
Bachelder says he was thinking about doing a book-length exploration of play and its switch from complete order to complete catastrophe in five seconds. He studied the play and watched it on repeat so much that he says it began to seem as if the players were acting in roles, which is where he got the idea for the novel. But he says deciding to include 22 characters and forgo a central protagonist made it challenging to figure out point of view. A few of the characters stand out among the rest, but the emphasis is on the group’s need for intimacy and connection rather than on the individuals.