Archive for February, 2018

50 Things I Thought While Writing Hooper

When a book comes out, you get asked about your inspiration a lot. For Hooper, I have had a really hard time articulating it, because the book comes from lots of places. Here’s a list of some things I thought, at least.

  1. Hey. I love basketball!
  2. I’m so short. I write jokes, not dunk basketballs. This is sad.
  3. We’re refusing refugees here. My dad was born Jewish in Antwerp, Belgium in 1940. In May, the Nazis came. My family fled. More on this…
  4. Not much before, something similar on my Mom’s side. My grandpa was born near Konigsberg, which was disputed land. German, Russian, Polish, Lithuanian.
  5. When Grandpa was 8, he saw his neighbor shot to death by a militia. Grandpa watched the men kick the body into a ditch. The family had to leave Eastern Europe.
  6. How did they get to southern Minnesota? Thank you, Minnesota. We’re refusing refugees here.
  7. Grandpa grew up. He farmed. He worked at Hormel. He built houses with his own hands, because he could. He was so good at it.
  8. Who is good at basketball? LeBron James.
  9. Who else? I once taught high school English in Warsaw, Poland. One of my students was on the junior national basketball team. She had the best handle I’ve ever seen up close.
  10. Like Lindsay Whalen. Kyrie Irving. Steph Curry.
  11. I think: Seimone Augustus! Maya Moore! The Minnesota Lynx!
  12. And I think about this: In a couple of my books, police officers are the heroes. I love those guys. They represent the best.
  13. But. Systemic racism is real. It is real. It is real. It is real.
  14. Michael Brown.Tamir Rice. Eric Garner. And on. And on. And on.
  15. Denying fact is un-American! We are an experiment of The Enlightenment! We are called to become more perfect, to establish justice and strive for liberty, for ourselves and our posterity. Use facts.
  16. These are some from 2015: 13% of all black Americans killed by police were unarmed. 7% of white Americans killed by the police were unarmed. Black men made up 6% of the U.S. population but 40% of all unarmed Americans killed by police.
  17. I am so sick to my stomach.
  18. One reason I make jokes. And I like basketball.
  19. These are funny: James Harden, The Beard. Kristaps Porzingis, The Unicorn.
  20. The Polish Hammer, Marcin Gortat?
  21. I think about basketball twelve hours every day. I can’t help it.
  22. Andrew Wiggins. Karl-Anthony Towns. The Timberwolves. All day long.
  23. Have you seen Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon’s historic post game?
  24. And this: My dad’s mom, my grandmother, watched the air battle over Dunkirk as my family fled Antwerp (my infant dad in her lap). Nazi planes strafed refugees.
  25. Later, a member of the SS held my infant dad while my grandparents were interrogated. Apparently, my dad gurgled and smiled. The family got away.
  26. They got visas to Brazil. Thank you, Brazil.
  27. At age 18, my dad used a student visa to study in the U.S. Thank you. He met my mom in New York.
  28. When my grandmother was middle-aged (like I am now) she followed my dad to America. Here, she reinvented herself. Here, she worked. She went to concerts. She listened to WQXR late into the night. She translated books and documents until the day before she died at 83. Thank you.
  29. But my dad once told me he never felt home. Never. Immigrating is hard.
  30. But he was safe. Thank you.
  31. The tempest tossed, the huddled masses, these refugees. Open arms. This is the best we can be.
  32. Almost all my family who stayed in Belgium, in Poland, died in the camps.
  33. What’s happening in Syria?
  34. Make some jokes. Make some jokes. That’s what you do.
  35. And think about basketball. Joel Embiid. Tamika Catchings.
  36. Tamika Catchings threw her hearing aids into the woods when she was a kid, because she hated how people looked at her. Oh, she could ball, though. She overcame. She is proud.
  37. Being good at sports (like being good at anything) is a privilege. It is a passport.
  38. Imagine catching a lob and dunking it!
  39. (It can’t happen.) (Imagine it!) (Sweet ass amazing.) (Hang on the rim.)
  40. In high school, I could hang on the rim. My gym teacher would yell at me, but I didn’t care, because, holy shit!
  41. High school. Rural Wisconsin. I love rural Wisconsin. Thank you.
  42. Thank you to the deplorables? It’s where the deplorables, live? This divisive language coming from all sides makes me sick.
  43. I grew up in a small town in the midwest. I live in a small town in the midwest. There are jackasses, of course, but mostly not. There are baskets full of great, funny, thoughtful people.
  44. But, yeah, some of them say and do terrible stuff. There’s a cancer growing in us.
  45. And the people who believe the stuff I believe are going bad, too, so vicious, unforgivable, I start to think all hope is lost for this place. I feel so sick.
  46. But no. Sorry.
  47. Because this is not the end. This is still the middle of our story. Think of Grandma, escaped from the holocaust, arrived in America where she could be safe, where she could flourish. Think of Grandpa building houses.
  48. I believe in learning. I believe in our capacity to change. I believe in redemption.
  49. I believe in the endless bounty that will come to us because we keep trying and trying and trying. We’re roughed up, but not broke.
  50. And, remember this, too. Basketball. I know you will.



I am…

Geoff Herbach. I am the author of Stupid Fast and Nothing Special, among a bunch of other stuff. When I'm not writing, I teach writing at Minnesota State, Mankato.

Stupid Fast

Nothing Special

I’m With Stupid

Fat Boy (Gabe Johnson Takes Over)

PowderKeg Stage

My Bizzle

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