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A punter's passionate prose

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Reviewing 'Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies'

'Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies' starts off in perhaps the only way it could: a reprint of Kluwe's Deadspin evisceration of Emmet Burns. In fact, the title of the collection springs from that letter after a fashion.

See, while the majority of Kluwe's critics used 'He's only a punter' as the foundation for their dismissal of him, others viewed his liberal use of profanity and other perceived vulgarities as a way to negate the validity of his views.

So Kluwe did a rewrite, replacing any and all profane turns of phrase with terminology that, while often absurd, could never be confused with vulgarity. Thus, one of the most-quoted phrases a phrase that simply cannot be printed here, as much as we might like to; a phrase informing Mr. Burns what gay marriage would not, in fact, turn him into became 'beautifully unique sparkleponies.'

Happily, the message still came through loud and clear.

But before you start to think that Kluwe is just a one-trick sparklepony, just know that these two versions of that infamous letter simply serve as a jumping-off point into the deep end of the pool that is Chris Kluwe's mindset. While he has become one of the pro sports faces in the fight for marriage equality and there is no doubt the issue is hugely important to him there's more to the book than that.

The essays range from humorous looks at the attitudes of people on the internet to serious explorations of the realities of human rights. He talks about books that he has read and songs that he has written (his piece about finally reading 'Atlas Shrugged' might be my favorite of the entire bunch). He even talks about football things like the Super Bowl and the NFL draft.

But the one thing that all these pieces have in common all 60-plus of them is that they all sound off in their author's unique voice. Kluwe's combination of passion and intelligent self-deprecation has resulted in some must-read stuff. Are they all winners? No; Kluwe occasionally overreaches on a subject, trying a touch too hard in an effort to make his point. But the majority of writings in this collection strike the right balance, combining intelligence and humor and anger into engaging expression.

Perhaps the highest compliment I can pay to 'Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies' is this: I would have greatly enjoyed the book even if I had never heard of Chris Kluwe, NFL punter. And I suppose that's the point; this is not an entitled athlete cashing in on his fame with a book deal. Chris Kluwe is a talented writer with plenty to say. He just happens to kick footballs for a living.

Although if this book is any indication, he certainly has other options.

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