From Publishers Weekly
In this engaging memoir, Kahn (The Boys of Summer
) looks back at baseball and much more as he presents his episodic reminiscences as free-form essays arranged loosely around iconic figures from his past. In a profile of New York Herald Tribune
sports editor R. Stanley Woodward, entitled "The Coach," Kahn elegizes the great postwar newsroom culture of the paper, where he learned to structure a narrative and slip in Milton references. He probes the epochal subject of racism in baseball through homages to integrationist hero Jackie Robinson and his teammate Pee Wee Reese, a white Southerner who literally embraced him. He evokes the 1960s in a kaleidoscopic essay that ranges from a thumbnail sketch of a washed-up Mickey Rooney to impressions of the Goldwater and McCarthy presidential campaigns. A regretful piece on his son's suicide recalls the crazy therapeutic culture of the "Me" decade, while getting off a few terse words about his ex-wife. Kahn has a graceful, personal style, full of deftly evoked color and characters, with a bit of the newspaperman's hard-bitten swagger and a two-fisted liberalism one doesn't see much anymore. Photos not seen by PW
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Kahn is most famously known for his elegiac 1972 bestseller, The Boys of Summer,
about the Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1950s, whom he covered as a twentysomething beat reporter for the New York Herald Tribune.
That experience greatly informs this memoir, too, in chapters recalling an apprenticeship with his Tribune
sports editor R. Stanley Woodward and his abiding friendships with Dodger immortals Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson. However, the book reveals a writer of broader interests and deeper reserves. One is his keen love of poetry, seen here in his friendship with Robert Frost (this book's title is from a Frost poem; The Boys of Summer,
from a Dylan Thomas poem). Another is his interest in politics, revealed here in his vivid accounts of the 1964 Republican and 1968 Democratic presidential campaigns, focusing on Barry Goldwater and Eugene McCarthy, respectively. The book ends with Kahn's poignant profile of his son, Roger Jr., who committed suicide in 1987 at the age of 22. The essay presents a remarkable amalgam of factors--intent, happenstance, care, neglect, courage, pettiness--that can shape a life. Alan MooresCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved