By MALCOLM RITTER
Associated Press Writer
``Soccer Dad'' by W.D. Wetherell (Skyhorse Publishing. 288 pages. $22.95).
In the first chapter of this loving remembrance of his son's final year of playing soccer on a top-ranked high school team, W.D. Wetherell says he assumes that anyone reading the book ``already understands and values soccer.''
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Consider that a warning.
Not so much the part about understanding the game, although you should be ready for such lines as, ``A winger makes a brilliant little back heel to an overlapping back who scuffs the kick.''
Rather, it's the part about the reader valuing soccer. Make that, loving soccer. A lot. If you don't, reading ``Soccer Dad'' is like getting trapped in a long conversation with somebody who cares a lot more about the topic than you do.
Wetherell unabashedly loves the game, and he lives and dies with his son's team. He tells of eating a particular turkey sub combo meal during games to bring them luck. And while away on business during a game, he obsessively phones another father ``an embarrassing number of times'' for updates.
And that's just during the season. On a winter day, he takes us on a sentimental journey to maybe 20 snow-covered fields in Vermont and New Hampshire where his son has played.
Wetherell's writing style produces some nice turns of phrase, as in his noting that many high school players look like they'd be happier if they could use their hands. But it can also get to be a bit much, as when he lists milestones his son's team could reach if they played well. He then observes that the team was preparing to ``scale the treacherously sheer, dangerously icy cliff of If, where fate, just before the top, could hurl you into the abyss just for laughs.''
More discouraging are long riffs on such things as the sounds of soccer. Such passages can lead a reader to flip pages in search of something more interesting. Unless, of course, he really loves the game.