Paperback Perils: Friday Night Lights

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Title: Friday Night Lights
Author: H.G. Bissinger
Publication Date: 1988
Publishing House: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc.

Keltin and I decided to try something different in the books we read recently. He read one I suggested and I read one he suggested. He loved Good Omens and liked to send me random quotes from it that he thought were particularly well written and imaginative. As a whole he felt the book was well done and funny. I on the other hand read Friday Night Lights.

This book is in short is the story of the 1988 season of the Permian Panther football team but that does not do the book justice. This is the story of a town from the history of the city forming to the reason for their crazy football drive. The setting is Odessa, Texas and to say that they love their Permian football is an understatement.

I am not a football fan, Yes, it is fun to go to a game but I don’t feel the need to pick a team and go wild whether they win or lose. That being said Bissinger’s writing style had me all wrapped up in every game that he dictated Permian playing. I held my breath as the ball was thrown and felt the crush when it was incomplete.. His writing style is incredible and engrossing.  

At the same time I disliked this book not because of the author but because of the truth his writing presented. He exhibits the flaws in the system without bias, or with very little. Keltin put it best, “the story is not presented as things being good or bad, they are presented as they are and [the reader] is left to decide.” This book shows how sports, and football in particular, are viewed in our society and particularly in small or underrepresented communities. The players are gods under the Friday night lights.

After finishing this book I decided that I wanted to slap many of the character upside the head with culture. Football was so much a part of their lives that once they graduate they don’t know what to do with themselves because in their minds nothing compares with those Friday games. The entire community of this small Texas town ride the highs and lows of the season. The love and hate of the head coach comes with each win and loss.

This book is one that should be read. The writing is superb but beyond that the story causes you to stop and reflect. At least it caused me to reflect and a great deal of frustration at the lengths people and school districts will go to play football.

A Town, a Team, and a Dream”

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