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Playing the Moldovans at Tennis
by Tony Hawks
ISBN 0312305184 / 9780312305185 / 0-312-30518-4
Publisher St. Martin's Griffin
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Tony Hawks' debut book, The Round Ireland with a Fridge, was an irreverent satire. The topic of the sequel is even more absurd. Like Round Ireland, it supposedly originates from an obscure bet. This time, Hawks bets he can't track-down the Moldovan football team and beat them all at tennis. The loser must perform the Moldovan national anthem naked on Balham High Road. However, knowledge of tennis and/or football isn't required to enjoy the book.
Hawks' Irish trip was characterised by willing accomplices who joined in the fun. In Moldova, Hawks also expects a good laugh. Despite the rarity of visitors, he receives an apathetic welcome as his mission provokes little more than weak smiles. Tracking down the footballers and persuading them to play turns becomes almost impossible.
The book treads a fine line between brilliant and juvenile, between Jeremy Beadle and the genuinely witty. Hawks' sixth-form joke of presenting a round table to Moldova's new King Arthur is especially cringe-worthy. His experience as a second-division stand-up leads to innumerable trite quips. Still, overall Playing The Moldovans At Tennis is an entertaining, easy read that will make you chuckle. It provides an interesting view of Eastern Europe's post-Communist life, while keeping you in suspense: Will he? Won't he? Suffice to say that, yes, at the end of the book someone does end up naked and singing outside a South London Woolworths. --Sarah Champion --[via]