More advance praise:
“I found a smile on nearly every page of ‘Goldwater.’ The book has such a remarkable sense of place and time, but its truths about the challenges of growing up, fitting in and discovering one’s potential are universal. As someone who played junior high football (badly) during the Nixon years, it feels as though Garret Mathews was in every huddle, taking notes.”
– Mike DeCourcey, senior “Sporting News” writer and studio analyst on the Big Ten Network.
" 'Barking Signals' is a charming, timeless story that will remind why you first fell in love with sports."
- Jonathan Eig, New York Times best-selling author of "Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig."
About the book:
“Barking Signals (badly) During Goldwater” is the underdog story of a 14-year-old boy who is equal parts puny and shy in a little town deep in Virginia’s mountains. It’s decided that only one thing can bring A.C. Jackson out of the limits he’s put on himself: Playing second-string quarterback on the school’s junior varsity team.
Set in 1965, it’s a G-rated tale of an unlikely player’s first season at Abingdon High, both on and off the field. It’s a football book that fathers – and grandfathers – can read along with teenagers of the household.
There’s the PE-class rope climb that leads the league in the defeat of the adolescent human spirit. There’s the by-definition flawed nature of jayvees. Less aggressive. Less popular. Less likely to strong-arm another kid’s lunch box. Hesitant to buckle their chinstraps because they’ve heard it can give them blackheads.
There’s the cure-all nature of the little yellow pills that are doled out by the handful after practice. Player: “I’ve got jock itch.” Coach: “Take salt tablets.” Another player: “I’m flunking geometry.” Coach: “Take salt tablets.” Another player: “My dad left my mom.” Coach: “Take salt tablets.”
There’s the wide-mouthed admiration of varsity players because they have armpit hair, and the visit to the coal mine where the father of one of the jayvees was killed in an underground explosion.
There’s the clash between the win-at-all-costs head varsity coach and the new principal who is determined to improve academics at the school.
And there’s the young teacher who encourages a reluctant A.C. to play.
“You don’t have any life experiences,” Mr. Wiley tells the boy. “You’ve never been anywhere. Never done anything. But that starts to change when you go out for football. You find out what it feels like to hit the blocking sled. To wear shoulder pads that flap more than a condor. To wear kneepads that have rotted more than someone who was buried in the 1940s. You learn the playbook alongside guys who take easy math. You always hang out with kids in the National Honor Society. All of a sudden, you’re huddling with people who qualify for free lunch and have winter coats given to them by the Rotary Club.”
Send $22 plus $3 postage and handling to Garret Mathews, 7954 Elna Kay Drive, Evansville, Indiana 47715.