My first novel, and if people in show business are telling me the truth, soon to be a major motion picture.
Morton Martin Spell, a once-brilliant, now infirm 75-year-old writer-- is sliding into delirium. He thinks Mount Sinai Hospital is an exclusive golf course and his catheter is a gym bag. His only link to reality is his 35-year-old nephew, who makes his living as a hired gun for 13 softball teams and still goes by the name College Boy.
But College Boy's body has begun to betray him -- almost as much as his lack of ambition. (His only legitimate paycheck comes from a weekly gig as a laugher on a morning radio show.) Not only that, the Dirt King, a small-time gangster who controls all the replacement soil in Central Park, is after College Boy. As characters collide, College Boy takes refuge in arms of Sheila, his uncle's cleaning woman and part-time call girl.
And then it gets weird.
College Boy, who until now ran from responsibility like he was taking an extra base, has something to do. A lot. It is time to take care of his uncle, and what was once a relationship built on a mutual affinity for sports, bad shrinks and valium must evolve. In the process everyone gets a new life. A life worth saving.
"Adroitly fusing what he learned from Philip Roth with what he learned from Don Rickles with what he wrote for David Letterman, Scheft succeeded where more celebrated cutups have failed. He has written a book that is actually funny....He keeps the material coming at a machine-gun pace. The jokes are plentiful and very high in quality."
—THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
"A winning debut. Scheft blends crackling banter, pithy prose and empathy for his characters in a punchy Raymond Chandler-meets-Bruce Jay Friedman style....A sparkling discovery."
—ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY (Editor's Choice)
"Amazing debut. A no-miss read....A tightly-crafted, fast-moving book, frequently funny and thought-provoking."
—ROCKY MOUNTAIN TIMES
"Scheft infuses his book with compassion as well as laughs....A touching story about family, responsibility and a 35-year-old deciding it might be time to grow up."
—THE BOSTON GLOBE
"The summer's funniest novel....A wonderful and swift-moving piece of fiction."
“Bill Scheft’s THE RINGER is the most interesting book I have read since Dave Eggers’ A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. It’s funny, energetic, intelligent, touching and funny. If you don’t enjoy this book, there is something wrong with you."
"Full of likeable eccentrics, unlikely situations and clever comic riffs. The Ringer is a funny, big-hearted book."
“Neither Bill Scheft nor his story ever sits down to rest from first page to last in this witty and backhanded broken-field dash of a novel about softball, geriatric delirium, housecleaning, psychoanalysis and life in modern-day New York, among other things. The effect is exhilarating. The jokes fly by so fast you'll have to read the book twice to get them all, but beneath the banter and the pratfalls is a moving story about love between wounded souls that will linger in the mind far longer than the laughs. If The Ringer were in French, it would be a tour de force."
"Bill Scheft has written a first novel that is much much better than it has a right to be for somebody already so successful."
—PETER SAGAL, host of
NPR's "Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me"