Gimp: When Life Deals You a Crappy Hand, You Can Fold---Or You Can Play

( 4 )

Overview

College soccer star Mark Zupan had been out drinking one night and had passed out in the back of his best friend's pickup truck when his friend got in the driver's seat, decided to take the truck for a spin, and accidentally crashed it. Thrown into a canal and stuck in frigid water for fourteen hours, Mark was finally rescued and learned soon after that he'd broken his neck. He'd most likely be a quadriplegic and spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair, doctors told him. At first Mark's only goal was to walk ...

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Gimp: When Life Deals You a Crappy Hand, You Can Fold---Or You Can Play

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Overview

College soccer star Mark Zupan had been out drinking one night and had passed out in the back of his best friend's pickup truck when his friend got in the driver's seat, decided to take the truck for a spin, and accidentally crashed it. Thrown into a canal and stuck in frigid water for fourteen hours, Mark was finally rescued and learned soon after that he'd broken his neck. He'd most likely be a quadriplegic and spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair, doctors told him. At first Mark's only goal was to walk again. When that proved impossible, he fell into the depths of anger and despair, retreating from the world and the people closest to him. But love, friendship, and a new sport, quad rugby (a.k.a. "murderball"), helped Mark create a new existence that's truly exceptional.

Gimp, the no-holds-barred memoir of a Paralympic athlete and the star of the Academy Award–nominated documentary Murderball, is an inspiring, defiant, and revealing celebration of spirit and will that confounds readers' prejudices by offering proof that a guy in a chair can still do amazing things: have sex with his girlfriend, party with his friends . . . even crowd-surf at Pearl Jam shows.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
One drunken nap in the back of his best friend's pickup truck landed Mark Zupan in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. But from the start, this college soccer star refused to take his fate lying down. With fierce resolve, he transformed himself into an Olympic medal-winning quadriplegic athlete and, less intentionally, as the star of the Sundance Audience Award winner Murderball. This memoir by the quad rugby standout rings out his defiance, his spunk, and his courage.
Juliet Wittman
Mark Zupan uses fast, effective prose to tell the story of how he became a quadriplegic and ended up a world-class player of full-contact wheelchair rugby…You have to admire Zupan. He never apologizes for his crazed behavior or snivels about its consequences. He's blisteringly honest about the long-drawn-out period of grief, anger and rehabilitation he suffered, and he displays an astonishing lack of rancor toward Igoe. A smart, fierce adrenalin-addicted athlete, he is also a fascinating character.
—The Washington Post
Library Journal
Paralympic medal winner Zupan's hope in writing this book is that "when people read this book, they will be reminded that you can stage a comeback even when you think you've lost everything." However, it's misleading to say you've "lost everything" when, in fact, you threw it away yourself. The best thing about this memoir, cowritten with Swanson (West Coast bureau chief, Premiere magazine), is that it is honest in every graphic detail, from erections to elimination but it's certainly not inspirational. Zupan began his freshman year at Florida Atlantic University as a star soccer player and a hard partier. But all the fun and games came to a sudden end when excessive underage drinking led him to pass out in the bed of a friend's pickup. The driver, also drunk, lost control of the truck, causing the still-unconscious Zupan to fly out and roll down an embankment and into a creek. He broke his neck, nearly drowned, and became a quadriplegic. His "comeback" is that he reentered college; rejoined the athletic world playing a wheelchair sport called quad rugby, a.k.a. murderball; and started partying again. Not a necessary purchase. [Zupan is the star of the MTV/ThinkFilm documentary Murderball. Ed.] Renne Axtell, Independence, MO Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061127694
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/27/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 966,929
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Zupan is a Paralympic medal winner and the star of the MTV/ThinkFilm documentary Murderball. He lives in Austin.

Tim Swanson is the West Coast bureau chief for Premiere magazine. He lives in Los Angeles.

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Read an Excerpt

GIMP

When Life Deals You a Crappy Hand, You Can Fold -or You Can Play
By Mark Zupan

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Mark Zupan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 006112768X

Chapter One

Rearview Mirror

Kurt Cobain was singing about teen spirit. I cranked up the volume and pulled onto the freeway. The year was 1993 and Nirvana's Nevermind was still getting heavy rotation on the radio. That August in Coral Springs, Florida, was hot and humid beyond belief. Breathing felt like sucking air through a sweaty sock. Mashing on the gas, I angled my black Ford Mustang, which was loaded with clothes, CDs, and soccer gear, into the fast lane. This was a big moment in my life, one of those crossroads that misty-eyed adults are always telling you about when they reminisce about their youth, and I knew it. I was heading off to my first semester of college at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, one of five freshmen invited to play on the school's Division I soccer team.

The FAU campus was a short thirty-minute drive from Coral Springs, where I had graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Sandwiched between Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton, Coral Springs is a wealthy community where the Everglades have been battling with concrete-covered strip malls for decades and losing. But like most small towns in southern Florida, the place has retained its own special kind of quirkiness. Cranes, flamingos, and even an occasional alligator will lounge in the hundreds of drainagecanals that crisscross Coral Springs. Fishermen still sell stone crabs fresh from the Atlantic on folding card tables not far from gated communities housing million-dollar mansions. And in true Florida fashion, senior citizens hungry for their early-bird specials pack the restaurants at 4:30 P.M.

Heading north to Boca on I-95, I thought about what I was leaving in the rearview mirror. Starting with my graduation in June, it had pretty much been the best summer of my life. I had done fairly well for myself academically, despite an admitted lack of effort. I ranked forty-three out of a class of around five hundred at Douglas High, with a 3.8 GPA. I had excelled in math and science. My mom and dad, who have always been really cool, down-to-earth parents, let me throw a party for about twenty of my friends on graduation night. We lived in a rambling single-story ranch house in a development called Eagle Trace, complete with a screened-in swimming pool, near a golf course where my dad, little brother, Jeff, and I would play together. Mark "Super" Duper, the former Miami Dolphins wide receiver, one half of the famous "Marks Brothers," lived just down the block from us. Whitney Houston also owned a house nearby. Let's just say her place was a lot bigger than ours.

My parents knew we were going to be drinking on graduation night, so instead of burying their heads in the sand, they allowed us to get loaded under their supervision, as long as everyone gave up their keys at the front door. All my buddies came to raise a glass, hang out, and celebrate this early milestone in our lives: Steve Nelson, a left-footer from my high school soccer team who I worked with at a restaurant called Chowders; Jeff Nickell and Frank Cava, two guys I had become close with while playing football my senior year at Douglas; and of course, Chris Igoe, Douglas High's resident class clown and self-proclaimed "pimp."

Tall, lanky, red-haired, and coated with a shotgun blast of freckles, Igoe had been a polarizing force at Douglas. You either loved or hated him. There was absolutely no middle ground. He was funny, smart, brash, and completely out of control. Igoe was obsessed with gangsta rap music, especially N.W.A. and Snoop Doggy Dog. He regularly dressed in Nike track suits, occasionally with a small travel clock hanging around his neck, which he had purchased during one of his two stints at military school. He would walk through the halls at Douglas singing "I-G-O-E" to the tune of Snoop's "What's My Name?"

His senior year, Igoe would wear what he referred to proudly as his "Black Power" glove on his right hand during football games. He would ball his hand into a fist and raise it above his head for a few seconds before each kickoff. What did the gesture mean? Who the hell knows? It was really just a driving glove that he had to hide from Coach Mathisen, who said he would boot Chris off the team if he ever wore it at a game again. Of course, Chris kept wearing the glove.

Equal parts arrogance and insecurity, Igoe acted like he was the star of a raucous sitcom and we were his laugh track. My other buddies from the football team--Cava, Nickell, Ari Levy, the McCarthy brothers--were no angels, and we all had a certain amount of mischief and mayhem lurking inside us, but we were nothing compared to Chris. No one was. Igoe was the type of guy who would go to a high school party, steal bottles out of the parents' liquor cabinet, try to have sex with someone's girlfriend in the bathroom, start a fistfight, and then take a shit in the washing machine, which was all pretty hilarious, as long as you weren't the person who had to clean up after him the next day.

Igoe didn't get into much trouble on graduation night, beyond body-slamming me headfirst into my bed, a bit of liquored-up brawling that left me wounded and woozy. But that hardly mattered. We drank enough beer to kill a mule, wrestled in the pool, blasted "I'm Gonna Be" by the Scottish group the Proclaimers over and over again, singing the infectious "I would walk five hundred miles" chorus at the top of our lungs, much to the discomfort of my neighbors.

My dad, who has worked in the food business for most of his life and is a genius in the kitchen, partied with us, working the grill, barbecuing steak and chicken all night long. At one point, he was giving . . .



Continues...

Excerpted from GIMP by Mark Zupan Copyright © 2006 by Mark Zupan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 16 of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 8, 2009

    Awesome

    Very inspiring, awesome read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2009

    Gimp By Mark Zupan

    Gimp was one of the best books that I have ever read. Being a soccer player i understood everything he was going thorugh. From college coaches looking at you, to being surrounded by girls and partying. This whole book rally helped to change me as a person in a way. It showed me that when life sucks at some points you can either give up or you can continue to push on strong. That is exactly what Mark did when he got into that car wreck. He was drunk, partying way too late and he had a full scholorship waitng for him. However, he drove and he became paralyzed from the waist down. You can just say that his life sucked from there. However he found a new sport that he loved (murderball) and he became a pro and made our paralympic team as a rookie. The quote i will remember the most is, "When life deals you a crappy hand, you can play or you can fold.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2007

    Awesome...Touching...and TRUE

    I feel that this is one of the best books that encourages all indivuduals that had a 'normal' life and had an event that occured that would change their life forever. I was able to feel Mark's emotions because of his fabulous writing and was able to relate to his accident. This happened to me too. I was in a coma for 6 wks. and then went through rehab for another 4 mo. It makes me want to wrie about my life prior to my accident, after, and now. I can relate too all the feelings and words that mark describes in this fabuluos book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2007

    Will blow your mind, buy it now!

    Simply put, this book is utterly amazing. I could not put it down and had it read in 2 days time. Zupan's writing style in this book is completely raw and uncut. Which I thought was great. He uses the F Bomb several times in the book, but that just shows you how Zupan is. Mark leaves pretty much nothing out in this book. He tells you about his highest points, and about his lowest. One moment this book will have you laughing your butt off, and the next you may be balling your eyes out. The point of this book is not to pitty Mark and say 'Oh look at the great life he had...' No it's to show you that Mark has done more in a chair then he did when he could walk. As a fellow disabled person I hope this book will open the eyes of able bodied people and show them that disabled people are people too. They can do everything an able bodied person can, it may be a little different and require a few adaptaions here or there but it will get done. This book is truely a great read and I reccomend it to everyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2006

    Gimp Review by Chris Igoe

    It's rare that the voice in my head wakes me up, but there I was this past Saturday pie eyed and amped, to ensure I was the first one to post a review of GIMP on Barnes & Noble. Perhaps this sounds a bit obsessive, and it might be, but I feel uniquely qualified for the job. You see about 14 years ago, Mark and I were out celebrating a soccer win, and well... let's just say neither of us made it home that night. This book is the culmination of those wild, painful, phenomenal years. It would be an understatement to say I've read the book more then once. It's so powerful in places that I literally had to put it down, and walk away. That sounds dramatic, but certain sections are so vivid and life like that it's as if I was reliving them. GIMP is that raw, it's that alive. Mark Zupan is an exceptional human being. Perhaps you've seen him in the Oscar nominated film Murderball, or in Jackass 2 and both of these are interesting glimpses into who he is but GIMP is the total portrait. GIMP is a masterfully written, unflinching stare of brutal yet beautiful honesty. It packs a Tysonesque punch on so many different levels, each relateable to anyone. Families will learn about love, Friends will learn about true friendship. I could go on but suffice it to say, Gimp has a lot of everything, because Mark has a lot of everything. To label it as being a sports book would be doing it a disservice. Labeling it as self help or inspirational wouldn't be inaccurate but it wouldn't be enough. GIMP is true testament to an exceptional life, it's a fast read and well worth you time. Please read it today.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2006

    What a book!

    This is one of the best biographies I've ever read!Nobody could have told Mark's story as well as he does here.Mark is rude and crude throughout much of the book.But he's also brutally frank and honest.This is no-holds-barred,in-your-face,love-me-or hate- me biography at its best.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2006

    Hell of a ride

    It's rare that the voice in my head wakes me up, but there I was this past Saturday pie eyed and amped, to ensure I was one of the first one to post a review of GIMP on Barnes & Noble. Perhaps this sounds a bit obsessive, and it might be, but I feel uniquely qualified for the job. You see about 14 years ago, Mark and I were out celebrating a soccer win, and well... let's just say neither of us made it home that night. This book is the culmination of those wild, painful, phenomenal years. It would be an understatement to say I've read the book more then once. It's so powerful in places that I literally had to put it down, and walk away. That sounds dramatic, but certain sections are so vivid and life like that it's as if I was reliving them. GIMP is that raw, it's that alive. Mark Zupan is an exceptional human being. Perhaps you've seen him in the Oscar nominated film Murderball, or in Jackass 2 and both of these are interesting glimpses into who he is but GIMP is the total portrait. GIMP is a masterfully written, unflinching stare of brutal yet beautiful honesty. It packs a Tysonesque punch on so many different levels, each relateable to anyone. Families will learn about love, Friends will learn about true friendship. I could go on but suffice it to say, Gimp has a lot of everything, because Mark has a lot of everything. To label it as being a sports book would be doing it a disservice. Labeling it as self help or inspirational wouldn't be inaccurate but it wouldn't be enough. GIMP is true testament to an exceptional life, it's a fast read and well worth you time.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted June 18, 2010

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    Posted December 19, 2009

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