Football, Fast Friends, and Small Towns
In this heartfelt memoir, Steve Love, contributor to two Akron Beacon Journal Pulitzer Prizes, shares familiar loves and losses. Nostalgic but never saccharine, Football, Fast Friends, and Small Towns is filled with Americana to which Baby Boomers and subsequent generations can relate. Small towns, whether his own Nowata or the Sallisaw of national champion quarterback Steve Davis, have rhythms and cultures, as common yet as special as the sight of leaves changing colors, the smell of smoke wafting from chimneys, and the sound of players in pads smashing one another under Friday night lights in the fall.
Football isn’t the only collision sport found here. A clash between father and son and a small-town teetering on the economic brink strip bare the mythology of place. Yet such places, beloved hometowns, stand. Imperfect, with warts that rose-colored glasses and the distance of adulthood cannot hide, their sweet memories remain. Why do we remember what we do? These eclectic tales of football lost (and found again, if differently), a girl unwillingly left behind, and friends suddenly gone offer answers—or at least hints—to these and other of life’s mysteries.
Using award-winning journalistic skills, Love fleshes out stories gone unfinished and finds telling details to all-too-common tragedies. Rich in self-criticism and laced with humor, Football, Fast Friends, and Small Towns is a cool drink of water from Nowata.
What Readers Say about Football, Fast Friends, and Small Towns
The book’s title begins with “Football” and its importance cannot be overstated. All the metaphors for football as life are present, but [Steve] Love wants to follow the real story of his time in Nowata [Oklahoma], and the friends he made playing basketball and football. The Berry family, with four athletic sons, became an extended family; their youngest son KB played quarterback to Love’s center and later fullback.
The central themes of high school football and friendships and their connection to the world beyond is well-grounded by Love’s personal insight.
— Barbara McIntyre, Akron Beacon Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK book critic
Critic Barbara McIntyre recognizes that [Steve Love] has written, fittingly, a love letter to small-town life in Oklahoma, which centers around, of course, football. One spoiler not in the review: The author gets arrested for drag racing, sort of like Harrison Ford in American Graffiti.
— Stuart Warner, retired Akron Beacon Journal columnist, writer, and editor (book blurb from Facebook)
This is a book authored by long-time friend and former fellow sportswriter Steve Love. He became famous . . . I became a non-famous writer. Anyhow, we both have our roots deeply entrenched in our beloved Oklahoma and this book is well worth reading . . . especially if you come from a small town (no matter where it is) and love high school football. I do!
— Henry J. Inman Paonessa, Founder Goldfinch Communications and author of Rubber Mirror: Reflections of the Rubber Division’s First 100 Years (book blurb from Facebook)
Steve Love shows us the pain of moving from his loved small of Nowata Oklahoma to Sacramento and how he could never really go home again. Friday night lights came to life in this book and friends made along the way are friends for life. This is the book for peaceful night of reading and reflecting on our own lives.
— Art Krummel, retired Akron Beacon Journal illustrator, designer, art director, technology guru (Amazon review)
Steve Love is a writer who can turn a phrase. (It hurt so good) We have been friends for a long time, but this semi-autobiographical book had things that even surprised me, including his stories from Virginia Military Institute. We are enjoying reading about the boy-man who grew up to be an outstanding journalist. Nowata and Bridgeport, Ohio [my hometown] are not all that different. The life-shaping effect of the game of football is way out of balance. Yet it is very much as [he] describes. [He is] such a good writer.
— Charlene Nevada, retired Akron Beacon Journal writer and editor (combined Facebook book blurb and an email)
Everyone in town knows that Nowata is a special place. From the Friday night lights of Ironmen football to the unique experience of growing up in a small town, Nowata has so many great things to offer, in both good times and bad, because of the folks who live here. That experience . . . in small-town America has been perfectly captured by an acclaimed writer who still calls Nowata his home town. Steve Love grew up in Nowata before moving on to become an award-winning journalist and author over a 40-year career. In his newest book . . . Love recounts his fond memories of growing up in Nowata, the friendships formed and the [heartbreak].
— Denton Thomason, Nowata (Okla.) Star staff writer
Got my book from my old friend Steve Love . . . Now to read about my home town. Well, just passed a record. I read Steve Love’s book about Nowata, among other places, and people he knew and worked with [in] two evenings. Couldn’t put it down.
— Dave Neely, former Nowata Ironman and Nowata County Assessor (on Facebook)
Like Steve, I too grew up in Nowata a year behind him in school. This book really captures what it was like to be from Nowata. Many of those mentioned in the book were also friends of mine. What a great read. Thanks, Steve, for reminding me . . . how great it was to grow up in Nowata.
— Jim Atkisson (Amazon review)
I [had] not read a book in more than 24 years. Just haven’t been interested in any. This book about football was a gift for Christmas. Steve captured the essence of the Good Old Days. I read this book in three days, and, to be honest, wanted more. Many of the people in this book I either knew on a personal level or [had] heard of. Please take time to give this a thoughtful read. Even if you are not from Oklahoma, California, or Ohio, you will love the history of each as seen [through] Steve’s eyes.
— Lynda Gillman (Amazon review)
I was born and raised in Nowata also, so I have many fond memories. I have never moved from Nowata . . . I am a Nowata girl, through and through. I just finished reading your book . . . It is so nice that someone would spend the time to write such a great book and talk about so many of the people that I remember. I had to take this opportunity to thank you for writing it.
— Sandra Dodge Craven (from a personal letter)
OTHER BOOKS BY STEVE LOVE
What Readers Say about The Indomitable Don Plusquellic:
How a Controversial Mayor Quarterbacked Akron’s Comeback
Akron has borne its share of outsized personalities—Ray C. Bliss, LeBron James, Jack Knight. Don Plusquellic can hold his own with any of them and might likely be the first to tell you so. This is the biography he deserves, big and tumbling, profane and heartfelt, rough-edged and charming—just like the man himself. This book will stand among the most important chronicles of our region’s history.
— David Giffels, author of Barnstorming Ohio to Understand America and the memoirs Furnishing Eternity and All the Way Home
Maybe we needed a former sportswriter, Steve Love, to unravel the enigma of the former quarterback, Don Plusqullic . . . Love provides not only well-reported, nimbly written insights into the man but also takes us behind the scenes to show us what it takes to run a city. So whether you have booed or cheered the mayor, I think you’ll agree that Love scores a touchdown with this book. — Stuart Warner, former Akron Beacon Journal associate managing editor and author of Jock: A Coach’s Story
I wish I had had this book when I first came to Akron … I learned that the people of Akron speak in code, [and] there is a reluctance to clue you in. Perhaps that is the Midwest mindset. I wanted to break the code. Having finished the book . . . I am closer to deciphering the encryption. The book is biased in favor of the former mayor. So what! This biography is also a biography of the life and recent history of the city of Akron. If you are a newcomer or an outsider, the book provides background and context and thus perhaps a guide to translate the secret language of Akronites — Martin H. Belsky, Randolph Baxter Professor of Law and former dean University of Akron School of Law