Make It, Take It (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

The strange and sheltered business of college basketball, where coaches and players alike perilously teeter between personal and professional ruin and waver between adulthood and adolescence, is the setting for this often hilarious and ultimately disturbing novel. A range of character sketches reveal a world where everyone is playing everyone else to get ahead--and the basketball games themselves are a mere backdrop to the often harebrained scheming. Bradburd has exposed the dark, dank underside of a shady business and has seemingly picked up a rock to expose the creatures that slither out: venal coaches, dishonest recruiters, opportunistic administrators, and disloyal teammates.Make It, Take It is a wisely funny novel with a jaundiced view of a very American social institution.

— Will


An inventive novel, Make It, Take It sneaks the reader past the press conferences, locker rooms, and huddles of college basketball. Without judgment or sentimentality, Rus Bradburd lays bare the web of conflicts between players and coaches, blacks and whites, revealing the complex humanity of a team's inner circle. Here, every choice has a very real cost.

Steve Pytel is an assistant coach and top recruiter for a university basketball program. His goals are simple. He wants to keep his job and be a head coach someday. Keeping his wife barely makes the list. The team staggers; everyone's days are numbered. Pytel was responsible for landing prized recruits Leonard Redmond and Jamal Davis. Pytel's duties now? Keep Leonard out of jail. Make sure Jamal ignores the advice of his preacher, sidesteps his girlfriend's pregnancy, and puts the ball in the basket. Good thing Pytel doesn't carry around a bagful of scruples.

Rus Bradburd is the author of the controversial Forty Minutes of Hell: The Extraordinary Life of Nolan Richardson (HarperCollins/Amistad) and a memoir, Paddy on the Hardwood: A Journey in Irish Hoops (University of New Mexico Press). He spent fourteen years as a college basketball coach, working for legends Don Haskins and Lou Henson. A regular contributor to SLAM Magazine, his essays have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Houston Chronicle, and Chicago's SouthtownStar. He is married to poet Connie Voisine. They live in New Mexico and Chicago, Illinois.

About the Author

Rus Bradburd is an assistant professor at New Mexico State. He walked away from the glamorous world of college basketball after coaching fourteen seasons at UTEP and New Mexico State.

His book about Nolan Richardson, race and college sports--"Forty Minutes of Hell"--was published in 2010 by HarperCollins' Amistad Books. ESPN's film version of Richardson's life, based on Bradburd's book, came out in early February, 2012.

Bradburd traveled to Ireland in 2002 to coach in the laughable Irish Super League. While leading his beloved Tralee Tigers into dead-last place, he gleaned wisdom from his reclusive Irish fiddle teacher. His book about that time, his first, was called "Paddy on the Hardwood: a Journey in Irish Hoops" (University of New Mexico Press, September 2006).

His free summer program in El Paso's poorest neighborhood &mdash Basketball in the Barrio &mdash has been featured nationally on NPR's Weekend Edition, was the subject of an award-winning feature film, and comprises a chapter of David Zirin book "Welcome to the Terrordome: the Pain, Politics, and Promise of Sport."

His short stories have appeared in "Southern Review" (special mention for a Pushcart Prize), "Colorado Review," "Puerto del Sol" and "Aelthon." His essays have appeared in the "New York Times," "Los Angeles Times," Chicago's "Daily Southtown" and "Houston Chronicle."

Rus married to the award-winning poet, Connie Voisine. He lives in Chicago and New Mexico.

Praise For…

"Coach Pytel's pivots to keep his job, his marriage, and his troubled players afloat are so much fun to watch that you may not even notice Bradburd’s hard-won wisdom until it socks you. For all the hilarity in these pages, Make It, Take It is a soul-wrenching indictment of how the game behind the game is played." Alex Shakar, author of Luminarium, winner of the 2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction

"Rus Bradburd, like other tough visionaries, has selected a universe unique unto itself college basketball. In it, he reveals quintessential American issues: race, power, corruption, and, sometimes, excellence. Make It, Take It casts light and shadow on both the coaches and the players. It also quietly invites the reader to consider the ways in which basketball reflects a country's virtues as well as its lamentable flaws. This is a very savvy book." Antonya Nelson, author of Nothing Right and Bound.

"One of our favorite writers." Slam Magazine

Product Details
ISBN: 9781935955436
ISBN-10: 1935955438
Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press
Publication Date: January 8th, 2013
Pages: 188
Language: English