The Moves Make the Man
by Bruce Brooks
This book not only made me care about Jerome Foxworthy and Bix Rivers, it made me fall in love with basketball. The Jayfox, as narrator Jerome Foxworthy is called, first notices Braxton Rivers the Third as the fine shortstop at a summer baseball game in Wilmington, North Carolina. Later, when Jerome is the first to integrate Bix’s lily-white school, they encounter one another again in a home ec class where they bond in a protest against making mock apple pie—though Bix’s outcry grows a bit more emphatic than Jerome’s, to put it lightly. After Jerome is shunned by the racist basketball coach, he starts playing solo hoops on an abandoned court in the woods. One night Jerome is surprised to find Bix already there. As Bruce Brooks describes the oncourt action, his details make even beginners feel like insiders: the Jayfox explains to Bix how “the ball is not really ever out of your hand control” when you dribble, the way you have to bend in the knees not at the waist, and the clues you can detect from the rhythm of the ball’s bounce. Brooks takes the essential part of the game, the need for “moves,” the ability to fake where you’ll be traveling on court or to whom you’ll pass the ball or when you’ll jump for the shot, and creates a metaphor for the boys’ relationship. Braxton Rivers the Third always tells the truth. Always. That serves him well as shortstop, but not so well when it comes to playing on the basketball court. By the time Jerome learns why the truth is sacred to Bix, both Jerome and Bix begin to question the role of truth and lies.