The Really Bad News Griffith Park Pirates
by John Albert (Scribner)
by Brian Varney
As the subtitle implies, Wrecking Crew is like some sort of adult version of the Bad News Bears. The team in question plays in a league formed by the city parks and recreation office in L.A. and is populated in large part by casualties of the L.A. music and film industries. Wrecking Crew tells the story of the successes and failures of both the individuals and the team.
Although it isn’t really marketed as such, Wrecking Crew is at least partially a recovery book, since the vast majority of the guys playing on the team, disparate though their backgrounds are, suffer from some addiction or another. Several of them are recovering junkies, including Albert himself, and the successes and failures of various members attempting to stay clean are recounted, but never in enough detail to make you think that this is the book’s main focus.
And that the book’s major flaw. The book is not especially short (280 pages or so), but the chapters themselves are very brief, almost episodic in nature, so that we never really get a chance to dig into the meat of the very interesting stories lurking just beneath the surface. I personally would’ve enjoyed more character development and a bit more detail, something to fill out the skeletal framework into a full-blooded organism. The way the book is written, it reads more like a series of brief promotional clips for a full-length film that never really materializes. There are some amusing moments and Albert’s plainly a talented writer, but there’s just not enough storytelling muscle at play to come anywhere near involving readers emotionally in the characters’ lives or in the team’s fate.