Jay Atkinson is the best-selling author of Memoirs of a Rugby-Playing Man. After years of suffering broken ribs and dislocated ankles playing his favorite sport, Atkinson decided to tell the story of what made it all worth it. He joined Bill Littlefield in the studio.
Bill’s thoughts on Memoirs of a Rugby-Playing Man:
Jay Atkinson comes across as an unapologetic throwback.
He embraces rugby in part because he finds in the game the potential to demonstrate courage and celebrate the brand of “manliness” that requires rolling in the mud, breaking bones, sharing bedmates, and getting drunk and naked with your equally manly teammates.
So Memoirs of a Rugby-Playing Man is perhaps not for everybody.
But those who aren’t put off by all or some of the above will find in Atkinson an energetic story-teller with lots of material. There is the rugby, of course. But beyond that, Atkinson studied creative writing with Harry Crews, one of the great characters of recent American fiction and the author of one of the most powerful memoirs I’ve ever read, Childhood: The Biography of a Place. On the occasion of their first meeting, Atkinson mistook Crews for a janitor and addressed him as “Chief.” Then he told Crews his accent was impenetrable. Crews responded by asking if Atkinson wanted to step outside. Atkinson, still high on the adrenaline rugby practice had provided, said “Let’s do it.”
They didn’t, but it’s a good story, no?
As Jay Atkinson writes, “Being a 165-pound wiseass has always been a dangerous occupation.” His writing is “wiseass,” too, and his book glorifies a lot of behavior that’s “dangerous” even before it gets cranked up.