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Sting-Ray Afternoons

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  1,803 ratings  ·  367 reviews
ONE OF AMAZON'S BEST BOOKS OF 2017 A wild and bittersweet memoir of a classic '70s childhood

It's a story of the 1970s. Of a road trip in a wood-paneled station wagon, with the kids in the way-back, singing along to the Steve Miller Band. Brothers waking up early on Saturday mornings for five consecutive hours of cartoons and advertising jingles that they'll be humming all
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published July 3rd 2017 by Little, Brown and Company
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Lorraine I'm into chapter 4 and yawning. I lived through this, I remember this stuff, and I was looking forward to a 'story' as well. SO MANY brand names and…moreI'm into chapter 4 and yawning. I lived through this, I remember this stuff, and I was looking forward to a 'story' as well. SO MANY brand names and references to commercials. Did he sit and watch one of those history channel shows like, "The '80s: The Decade That Made Us" and took notes as he remembered things? I can do that to. There is no real story here. Its like I'm reading an outline to a story he wants to write. I am bored already and that is why I turned to read some more reviews and saw yours. SPOT ON Leslie!(less)

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Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1970s, 2018, nostalgia
”A long long time ago
I can still remember how
That music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they'd be happy for a while
But February made me shiver
With every paper I’d deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn’t take one more step
I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died.”

-- American Pie, Don McLean, Songwriters: Don McLean

”I’m a product of the 1970s. Like
Kimberly Dawn
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
The author looks back fondly upon his 1970s childhood in the Midwest. His Catholic family included five boys and one girl.

A treasure trove of 1970s culture, some of which I had forgotten, this book is sure to bring back your own childhood memories.

From toys, candy, commercial jingles, to news events, cars, music, TV shows, movies, church, sports, family vacations, it’s all there. Although the references to numerous 70s commercial products can get tedious, fast forward to Steve’s family
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
How could so many of us have the same childhood? Fun, fun book.
Nancy Joseph Petermann
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
This book was great. Every single chapter reminded me of growing up with my three brothers. I loved all of the references to the items of the 60's, 70's and even the 80's. From the "8-track" to the "boom-box". This is a must read for anyone that grew up in that era. I am sending the book on to someone else that loves that era, and will probably love reading this book. Good Job Mr. Rushin!
David Quinn
Based on the last third of the book I'd like to rate this book higher but based on the first two-thirds I cannot.

The bulk of the book is a mile wide and an inch deep. The author seemed more determined to check off a list of every notable product and experience of the 70s (including slogans, jingles and occasional brief histories) than he was to tell his own story. (There are also the multitudinous quotes from parents that most will recall.) His stories in the early and middle sections were
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A perfect read for the summer, but also just a very entertaining Generation-X memoir. Like the Nine Mile Creek referenced by the author, the ambient 70's nostalgia flows steadily throughout his various anecdotes. Nicely detailed, occasionally bittersweet, and often funny - highly recommended if you grew up in a suburban nuclear family during or close to the same era. Thanks for the memories, Mr. Rushin.
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
More a chronological list of memories and brand names than an actual memoir - I felt like he was trying to ping every 1970s kid's memory bank with jingles and products rather than tell a compelling story. Which is too bad, because it seemed like there could be a compelling story underneath all the wordplay and the detailed histories of Bic pens and Boeing planes. (I particularly wanted to know more about his dad - what an interesting character.) Overall this felt pretty self-indulgent.
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a fantastic ride down memory lane! This book spoke to me on many different levels, as I am seven years older than the author. I laughed out loud and at times cried. This book brought back my youth for a couple of days. When a book makes you feel things and does a great job of bringing back your own good times as a kid, it is officially a five star book. Many thanks to Steve Rushin for this gift.
Heather Alderman
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this memoir so much. I knew it was a memoir of growing up in the 1970s, but I didn't realize all the other parallels there would be between my childhood and the author's - moving to Minnesota from Chicago, growing up in Minnesota, going to Catholic school, brothers, etc... I enjoyed this walk down memory lane so much. The reason I gave it 4.5 stars instead of 5 was that in places it was sort of like talking to my husband with too much mechanical detail given to 747s, bikes, radios, ...more
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
What a beautiful book you wrote, Steve Rushin. A few years younger, thousands of kilometers away, a childhood in a different country in fact, and I can still relate. My hat's off to you.
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book had me at the cover. I'm the same age as the author and had a bright blue sting-ray with glitter in the seat. This book had so many instances I could relate to I found myself nodding my head in complete understanding throughout the book. I have nothing but total respect and admiration for the research I know he had to do to get the details right when referencing specific events and products from the '70s.

This was my first book by Steve Rushin and now I'm a big fan of his writing style
Randal White
A fun flashback to my childhood. So many things that I had completely forgotten about!
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographical, humor
A very nostalgic trip through the 1960s, 70s, and even a bit of the 50s and 80s. Mr Rushin tosses out many product names, songs, toys, and a lot of behaviors from his childhood growing up in Minnesota. (So thorough are the names, I'm sure he looked up old catalogues and magazines.) If your life overlaps with any of these decades, you will enjoy his observations on how good, bad or silly all of this was, and its effect on his upbringing. And probably yours.
Apr 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Rushin's nostalgic look back at the 70s was kind of delightful. I loved the tour of my own adolescence, and I liked getting a view into Rushin's family. His eldest brother is portrayed as a horrible person, I wonder how accurate that is in real life.

I enjoyed this mightily, but in the end it was a little too sports-focused for me.
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
If you grew up in the 60-70's in North America this book will bring back a flood of memories. Although set in Bloomington, Minn, Steve Rushin, like all of us who had a television and a Sears catalogue was living in the era of name-brands. TV commercials made having "this" car, "that" pair of running shoes, "those" cookies important. And if your were not aware of the newest hottest aspirational brand you quickly found out what you were missing from your friends!
This is a story of a middle class
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
In the tradition of Bill Bryson's The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid and Jean Shepherd's In God We Trust, Sports Illustrated journalist Steve Rushin takes on the 1970's. This is memoir writing at its finest, a collision of pop culture, history, and family life from Rushin's formative years in Bloomington, Minnesota.
As I am a few years younger than the author some of the references were either before my time or before I was cognizant of the world around me. However, that which I do
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a supremely enjoyable read for anyone who came of age in the 70s, or grew up in the chaos of a big family, or went to Catholic school, or had a bike and road it around town, or rooted for a losing sports team, or road in a station wagon on a family vacation or loved and feared your parents. If you have done any or all of these things you will laugh out loud at Steve Rushin's memoir many times and you may choke up once or twice as well. Rushin is a crisp clear writer with an eye for the ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
This book was a pleasurable indulgence in childhood nostalgia. I can imagine this book is popular with people born between 1963 and 1973. The book is about the author's rather pleasant childhood in a prosperous intact fairly well balanced nuclear family. If it wasn't full of props and references from the 1970s that most mod of decades, you'd think it was a memoir of a 1950s childhood. I am giving this book four stars because even though it is indulgent with its nostalgia, it evokes the decade so ...more
Elizabeth Ray
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I took it with me on vacation, which was great. (It's the sort of book you CAN put down and come back to later, which is what I needed.) Although I was a girl in the deep South, born 10 years before the author, there was SO much that related so well to my childhood. The only problem I had was that I kept interrupting my husband in HIS book, to read excerpts of mine! I would certainly recommend it!
Jay Gabler
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
When I got this book, I thought, "Why does the world need a memoir of childhood by a middle-aged white guy who grew up in Minnesota?" Of course, being a middle-aged white guy who grew up in Minnesota, I completely identified with it. Also, it's one of the best-written memoirs I've ever read. I laughed more than at any book I've read since The Last Catholic in America.
Miriam Ring
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you grew up in the '70's, this book will take you back to your childhood! Entertaining and fun, this book was a perfect summer read.
Michele Gardiner
Boob Tube-Glued Tater Tot Blathers in Boring Book:
I'm out by the pool trying to get lost in a new memoir. But it's the saddest, most boring, shallowest life story. No, the guy wasn't abused or neglected--not an orphan, either. Just a child of a fully intact, suburban, nuclear family of the 1970s.

Here's the sad part: He was a boob tube baby, plopped in front of the hypno box and left for hours. The writer watched so much TV as a kid, I'm 20 percent into this book and all he's talked about are the
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Who knew a 2-page history of the BiC pen could be so good?

Ostensibly Sting-Ray Afternoons is a memoir by Steve Rushin, who made his fame writing for Sports Illustrated. But a Rushin memoir is about the time he grew up -- the 1970s and all the things people growing up in the 1970s grow up with. We learn about 3M and their competitor Memorex as Rushin's dad was a 3M salesman. The coveted Schwinn Sting-Ray bicycle gives the book it's title. The Sears catalog provides a laundry list of products to
Dec 01, 2019 rated it liked it
I almost gave up on Sting-Ray Afternoons after the first 2 chapters. I had hoped this book would be similar the excellent Book of Ralph by John McNally, one of the funniest coming-of-age in the 70’s books I’ve ever read. No such luck. The first portion of Sting-Ray Afternoons is just a litany of products of the 70’s – bikes, cars, candies, cleaning products, airplanes, toys, gum – there was a lengthy section that listed all of the categories of the Sears Roebuck Christmas catalog!
I’m glad I hung
David Ward
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sting-Ray Afternoons: A Memoir by Steve Rushin (Little, Brown & Co. 2017) (Biography). This book, like author Steve Rushin and like me, is all about growing up in the 1970's. For a child of this era, reading this is like visiting a time warp. The book is stuffed with generational references that the now-aging children of the day will recognize instantly from having had these images stored in our communal subconscious archive for lo these many years. Every television show, every commercial, ...more
Sep 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
While the author, born in 1966, is technically a Generation X kid, his experience is near enough to my own Boomer childhood to strike a note of nostalgia. If you were young in the 1970s, you will love this book. Mr. Rushin was one of five kids (1 girl and 4 boys, or , as he fondly recalls, "one redhead and four shitheads"), back when Catholic families raised a passel of kiddos. His was the prototypical suburban childhood of that era. His father was a traveling salesman for 3M, while his ...more
Kris Morrissey
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As a child of the 70s who grew up in the Twin Cities - this memoir was a wonderful reliving of a carefree childhood spent praying for snow days, thawing out in the warming house, bat days at Met Stadium, and remembering the numerous yardsticks stacked in our garage emblazoned with logos from local retailers. Steve Rushin's attention to detail from Sunday morning wrestling on TV (and in the basement) to his father's love for puns and his mother's insistence of not using the F word (fart - not the ...more
Cheryl Crotty
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. So many memories from my past. So many funny and enlightening moments. 4 boys, I girl. I get it. I had 3 brothers, no sisters and I was amazed at how much the boys reminded me of my own brothers. The expressive language was wonderful. It was simply a trip back if you were around in the 70’s. Remember that Sears catalogue and the Wish book... the Bible of Christmas, that’s in there. Take a trip down memory lane. Perfect for these stressful times. It reminds me that life really ...more
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Rushin's got a few years on me and we grew up hundreds of miles apart, but reading "Sting-Ray Afternoons" was still one long, delightful rush of memories from my childhood. The book's more than just nostalgia for a bygone pop culture era, though: it's a loose historical overview, a coming-of-age story, and — perhaps above all — a wise, big-hearted appreciation of one family's bond, packed with enough universal truth that you'll more than likely recognize a few moments from your own pre-college ...more
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
An excellent memoir and a nostalgic trip down memory lane. Growing up in the suburbs during the 1970s the author and I shared some uncannily similar experiences. My family also consisted of 4 boys and a girl (we were called the boysies, instead of the boys). My mom also sang corny songs while getting me up for school. And in 1977 we also took a trip to California and went to Disney and Universal Studios, jeez I could have been on the same tour car as the author driving around the studio lot!

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After graduating from Bloomington Kennedy High School in 1984 and Marquette University in 1988, Rushin joined the staff of Sports Illustrated. Over the next 19 years, he filed stories from Greenland, India, Indonesia, the Arctic Circle and other farflung locales, as well as the usual nearflung locale to which sportswriters are routinely posted.

His first novel, The Pint Man, was published by
“Beyond that box camera he saw in a shop window in Chicago in seventh grade, Dad has never wanted anything, as far as I know. He still coos over the tennis balls and Old Spice we give him every birthday, Father’s Day, and Christmas. And yet he understands the symbolic power that an earned object holds.” 0 likes
“Childhood disappears down a storm drain. It flows, then trickles, then vanishes, leaving some olfactory memory—of new tennis balls, Sunday-morning bacon, a chemical cloud of Glade—to prove it ever existed. It seldom ends on a sixteenth birthday or an eighteenth birthday or some other calendar date, and rarer still is it stamped with a time of death. But sometimes it is.” 0 likes
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