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‘Slim and None’ by Dan Jenkins
Reviewed by Tom Phillips
Editor’s Note: Here’s another review of Jenkins’ latest effort, this by a reader who has a bit more fondness for the crusty Texas golf-writing legend than Dr. Wagner.
‘Slim and None’ picks up golf professional Bobby Joe Grooves in the twilight of his career trying to cap off his career by winning one of the four professional major golf championships. Readers first encountered Bobby Joe in Dan Jenkins’s last book, ’The Money-Whipped Steer-Job Three-Jack Give-up Artist.’
Jenkins still has the best ear for Texas golf dialogue of any writer in the business. Who could ever forget the opening pages of ‘Dead Solid Perfect’ where the main character, Kenny Lee Puckett, finds himself in the interview room after shooting an opening-round 70 to lead the U.S. Open at Heavenly Pines. Puckett describes the 18th hole as being two miles of lonesome road that is harder than rent. He says he hit a 1-iron for his second shot to the green. He says he got on that 1-iron like an 18-wheeler going down Interstate 35 –just wore it out. Hit it so straight you could hang wash on it. He knew the moment the ball left the clubface that you could call in the boats and piss on the admiral, because the war was over.
Much of the dialogue in ‘Slim and None’ is up to that standard. If you haven’t read Jenkins’ writing outside of his magazine work, you should know that it’s pretty foul-mouthed, which doesn’t bother this reader. What does wear thin is the extent to which Bobby Joe seems to find himself on a soapbox railing against political correctness while he manages to touch all the bases in saying something offensive about just about every race, creed, and culture. Women, of course, receive special scorn when they aspire to go beyond the status of arm candy – no wonder most of Jenkins’s characters are have gone through at least three wives.
The other disappointment of this book is the contrived golf-rules situations Jenkins creates to thwart Bobby Joe in each of his attempts to close the deal in the final round in every major he’s on the verge of winning. In each instance, the reader finds himself saying this has never happened and would never happen. One of Jenkins’s greatest strengths as a golf writer is his knowledge of the history of the game. Until now he has always been able to weave the action into plausible events. Now it seems he’s going for cheap laughs, and it often just falls flat.
Still, if you are a Jenkins aficionado you should read this book. Jenkins even on an off day is still head and shoulders better than 90 percent of the golf writers in the trade. ‘Slim and None’ is a better book to borrow than to own, provided your lender does not ask you to write a review of it.
‘Slim and None’ by Dan Jenkins, 243 pages, Doubleday, 2005, $24.95 (hardcover), ISBN 0-385-50852-2
Tom Phillips has been playing golf for 45 of his 52 years, and been reading books for 46 years. He has been reading books about golf for 43 years. He entered Stanford University three months after Tom Watson graduated and three months before Tiger Woods was born. Tom played on the Stanford golf team with considerably less distinction than either Watson or Woods, and has yet to win any of golf’s major championships. In college and graduate school Phillips studied psychology, which has enabled him to understand Michael Murphy’s ‘Golf in the Kingdom.’ When Tom Phillips is not playing tournament golf, he is a devoted husband, father, and venture capitalist. He also manages a charitable foundation.