Whitney Pastorek
June 06, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT

Melissa King was a disaffected 27-year-old living in her home state of Arkansas when, fed up with the heat and, well, Arkansas, she packed up and moved to the mean streets of Chicago. Disconnected and lonely, she found solace in the one thing she knew she could trust: basketball. ”I keep looking for that orange, that thunk,” she writes in She’s Got Next, her story of years spent playing pickup games wherever she could find them, ”because finding it feels like a dive into forgetting.” It’s a pleasant, conversational book — part sports memoir, part chick lit, and part amateur philosophy. ”Basketball as Allegory for Life,” King says of the Zen thread that runs through her book. ”And looking for your open man. Maybe the message of the book would be — as much as you can without getting yourself hurt — to participate in life.” True to her own advice, says she’s not even watching the current NBA playoffs. ”I’m too restless,” explains King, now 38 and back in Arkansas with her 3 1/2-year-old son (who’s already showing a talent for. . .soccer). ”I can’t just sit there and watch a game. I’d rather be playing.”

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