At 60, Wideman, a two-time PEN/Faulkner Award winner, is too old for playground basketball, the game he loves. He is the perfect age, however, to drift back and examine his rise from ghetto prodigy to Ivy League hoops star to literary Brahmin. At all phases playground ball is there, teaching creativity, the difference between "solo triumph" and group participation, and other life lessons. There are too many basketball-is-like-jazz musings, but at its best moments, Hoop Roots brings a touch of Proust to the blacktop.
--By Josh Tyrangiel