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12 arts days of Xmas day 10: 'Butler's Big Dance'

December 23, 2010

Day 10: Here's one I wasn't expecting on my reading pile--a book by essayist Susan S. Neville that takes a kalaidoscopic look at the effects of Butler basketball's NCAA tournament run on the campus and its students, teachers and faculty.

Yes, there's some play-by-play in "Butler's Big Dance" (Indiana University Press). This is a book about basketball, after all. But there's also a visit inside a literary theory class trying to absorb the excitement into its intellectual world view and a trip to the planetarium, where connections are sought between those round objects in the heavens and those bouncing balls on the court.

How does it feel to be on an otherwise low-key campus suddenly overrun with T-shirt buying fans and out-of-town media? Neville's slim book captures that moment in a way I haven't seen tried before.

I plan on writing more about "Butler's Big Dance" in an upcoming column. In the meantime, consider it as a gift for the person who loves the written word and a good three-point shot.

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