ESPN’s Matthew Berry has dedicated his life to unreality. As a fledgling screenwriter in the ’90s, he toiled on low-rated sitcoms and helped pen Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles. Slowly he shifted his focus to fantasy sports, a hobby that has grown from a quirky distraction for fringe obsessives to a pastime enjoyed by 13 percent of the country.
Fantasy Life is part memoir and part journalistic recounting of Berry’s too-weird-to-be-fake fantasy-related anecdotes. The latter entries are told with chest-bumping zeal, but that tone tends to miss the mark — the guy who used his parents’ generator to participate in a draft during a hurricane-induced blackout is presented as a passionate devotee, but mostly comes across as inconsiderate.
The tales away from the virtual field score higher. Berry shares some great tidbits about his life in Hollywood (he has permanent enemies in both Hilary Swank and Paul Hogan). The book won’t convert anybody who doesn’t already know what PPR is, but Fantasy Life does make the strange alternative lifestyle of the sports nerd into something a little more human. B