Steve Pytel is an aging assistant coach, a hanger-on who senses a rare career payoff, one that could cost him his marriage. Pytel’s boss is a hard-drinking head coach whose proclamations are mean-spirited and perceptive. The team is a mess. Jamal Davis, a talented and religious youngster, could be their savior—if he can sidestep his pregnant girlfriend. Leonard Redmond, their star, is awaiting trial for drug possession. Good thing Steve Pytel doesn’t carry around a bagful of scruples.
The team rides the rollercoaster of a year in college ball, hoping for an NCAA tournament bid. Rather than the predictable condemnation of college athletics, this inventive novel-in-stories exposes the peculiar web of relationships between black and white players and coaches, and the complex and fragile humanity of a team’s inner circle – where every choice has a very real cost.
"Coach Pytel's pivots to keep his job, his marriage, and his troubled players afloat are so much fun to watch that you may not even notice Bradburd’s hard-won wisdom until it socks you. For all the hilarity in these pages, Make It, Take It is a soul-wrenching indictment of how the game behind the game is played."
- Alex Shakar, author of Luminarium, winner of the 2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction
"Rus Bradburd, like other tough visionaries, has selected a universe unique unto itself — college basketball. In it, he reveals quintessential American issues: race, power, corruption, and, sometimes, excellence. Make It, Take It casts light and shadow on both the coaches and the players. It also quietly invites the reader to consider the ways in which basketball reflects a country's virtues as well as its lamentable flaws. This is a very savvy book."
- Antonya Nelson, author of Nothing Right
"One of our favorite writers."
- Slam Magazine
"Rus Bradburd has given us an original novel about college basketball that is compelling, unsettling, yet downright funny and sad at the same time. Make It, Take It is even better than his incisive non-fiction—and, frankly, that’s just not fair."
- Dave Zirin, Nation Magazine, author Game Over: How Politics are Turning the Sportsworld Upside Down