Are We Winning Yet?how Women Are Changing Sports And...


April 14, 1991|By ANN G. SJOERDSMA MUSICAL CHAIRS. Kinky Friedman. Morrow. 264 pages. $18.95.




Mariah Burton Nelson.

Random House.

238 pages. $20.

If you are a woman who seriously pumps iron, runs marathons, or otherwise thrives on the physical challenge and camaraderie of sports, then "Are We Winning Yet?" is your personal valentine.

But even if you aren't a female athlete, Mariah Burton Nelson's provocative, informative examination of the "integrated sports arena" -- created in 1972 when discriminatory federal funding of school sports was prohibited -- merits consideration: The former college (Stanford 1978) and professional basketball player treats sports as the societal microcosm that it is.

"You can't be a female athlete without addressing questions of femininity, sexuality, fear, power, freedom -- and just how good you are compared to men," she writes.

"Are We Winning Yet?" concludes that female athletes are reconstructing sports to suit their own needs and desires, replacing the "winning-is-everything" model of competition with a caring and cooperative "partnership model," and thus leading a quiet revolution.

The Kinkster is in a darker mood this time around, and it's no wonder: Somebody's killing off the members of his old country-western band. First Tequila gets it in the rain room, with a bullet through the shower curtain and another in the face. Then Raymond Boatright O.D.s; and Wichita is shot in Tulsa; and Major Boles is hit by a car in a restaurant doorway.

Besides all that, Ratso's been clobbered in the hallway, Winnie the lesbian's ex-husband, Bud, has dropped some acid on the rug, and Kelli-the-dancer's ex-boyfriend Travis from Texas seems be dogging her around New York.

If you're confused, it might help to know that author Kinky Friedman is a former country-western singer and Peace Corps volunteer who has written five novels about a former country-western singer and Peace Corps volunteer named Kinky Friedman, who figures out whodunits with the help of buddies named Rambam, McGovern and Ratso.

The books are clever send-ups of the detective genre, and while Kinky the writer puts a lot of crude stuff into the mouth and mind of Kinky the character, there's usually enough off-beat humor to carry it. Not so this time: The flatulent jokes stink, and Kinky's scrotum, on repeated reference, is no big deal.



Marcel Montecino.


493 pages. $19.95.

Marcel Montecino's first novel, "Crosskiller," was a sprawling book concerning a Los Angeles psychopath and the cop who hunted him down. It was greeted with fine reviews. In "Big Time," he has returned with another sprawling novel.

Sal D'Amore is a barroom piano player with dreams of making the big time in the music business. What Sal does, though, is run up a $200,000 debt with a Mafia bookie. Destitute, he has one recourse -- run. But the Venezia family of New Orleans is not about to let Sal off so easily; as Sal tries to survive, he meets a fascinating assortment of people ranging from a crippled Argentine designer and his beautiful and talented daughter to a German record producer to Mexican bandits. The daughter has a smashing voice, and Sal finds the opportunity to make it in the record business.

"Big Time" is a compulsive page-turner that rockets along at warp speed. Sal is a great character. The locales are fascinating with fine insights into many aspects of the underworld and record business. There is graphic violence and a riveting scene with an unforgettable showdown at a Hollywood reservoir during the Grammys.


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