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Kinsella, W.P.

Markham (Ont.), Penguin Books, c1984. 196pp, paper, $5.95, ISBN 0-14-007386-8. (Penguin Short Fiction) CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Michael Freeman

Volume 13 Number 1
1985 January

W.P. Kinsella, author of the baseball fantasy Shoeless Joe Jackson * once again directs his attention to the magical, often fantastical, moments of life that bring the reader into intimate contact with the day-to-day crises of ordinary people. Each protagonist finds his life touched, if not directed, by the eternal truths of baseball. Players and spectators live, interact, die and move off-stage, but the game goes on, forever, unchanging.

The seventeen-year-old overweight bookworm, a baseball fanatic, visits the Polo Grounds during a rare trip to New York. He convinces the team manager to give him a tryout, makes the team, and helps the 1951 Giants to win the pennant. Not only is he accepted as an equal by his team-mates, but he finds to his delight that they spend their free time hobnobbing with Salinger and Malamud and discussing classic literary works between innings. What reader has not shared the dreams of this hero of "How I Got My Nickname?" Kinsella saves the best for last as he symbolizes the victory of the common man over the (baseball) bureaucracy in the irresistible title story.

A major theme running through these diverse vignettes is the relationship between men and women and how their secret dreams affect their relationships.

Michael Freeman, Bathurst Heights S.S., North York, Ont.

*Reviewed vol. XI/1 January 1983 p.16.

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