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Iowa Baseball Confederacy Paperback – September 29, 1996

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

On the day he met his true love, a carnival performer named Darling Maudie, Matthew Clarke was literally struck by lightning and magically imbued with the knowledge that in 1908 the Chicago Cubs had traveled to Onamata, Iowa, to play a seemingly endless game against an all-star amateur team, the Iowa Baseball Confederacy. He spends the rest of his life trying to prove this fact to the worldeven writing a dissertation on itbut no one else remembers the Confederacy or the game. When Matthew commits an imaginative suicide (by allowing himself to be hit by a stray line drive), his son Gideon, the hero of this tale, inherits his father's obsession. With the help of an old family friend who has a glimmer of memory of the game, Gideon and a friend, Stan, travel back through time to 1908, to witness the event and to learn about the mysterious forces that caused a memory lapse in those who witnessed it. In his first novel since Shoeless Joe, Kinsella returns to the magical turf he created there: a loving mixture of baseball, life and fantasy, in a world where dreams don't have to come true, because they have a validity all their own.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"A memorable addition to the literature about the summer's game...A riveting mystery with a host of fascinating characters, a first-rate ghost story, and the tale of a quest that ends not with the object of desire, but with the realization of love. Kinsella has another hit on his hands. He's still batting one thousand."

-- the Detroit Press

"Freighted with mythical machinery, The Iowa Baseball Confederacy requires the leavening of some sprightly prose. Kinsella is equal to it. His love for baseball is evident in the lyrical descriptions of the game."

-- Chicago Tribune

"Whether or not you like baseball, read the Bible, play a musical instrument, like Indian folklore, time travel, or the Chicago Cubs, you will like The Iowa Baseball Confederacy."

-- USA Today

Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st Ballantine Books trade ed edition (September 29, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345410246
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345410245
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,834,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By B. PERKINS on March 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
I first picked this up off the bookstore shelf because of that Kevin Costner movie that came out in 1989, but I knew Kinsella for his writing ability before that. What made me buy the book was the back cover's description of a baseball game that lasts over 2,000 innings and the protagonist's insistence that it really did happen.
I wasn't disappointed, although I have to say that this novel doesn't offer the simple wish fulfillment of Shoeless Joe or the movie based on that novel. The Iowa Baseball Confederacy spends the first hundred or so pages describing how Gideon Clarke's father wrote a Master's thesis in History about a baseball league that noone else remembers, how the thesis was rejected and ruined his father's life, and how he (Gideon) inherited this "knowledge" of a non-existent league and this obsession upon his father's death.
Gideon seems to be following the same fruitless path of trying to prove the existence of the mythical Iowa Baseball Confederacy, when the (un)expected happens: he's taken back to 1908 to see the events occur that have so far only existed in his and his father's memory.
And then things get strange, in a bizarre and wonderful way: As the game stretches on, the flood waters rise higher, statues become animated, all manner of nature comes to life, love blooms, and the ballpark is repeatedly visited by Drifting Away, the Native American whose destiny is tied up with this small town in Iowa.
While the plot of the novel resembled Darryl Brock's If I Never Get Back, or T. Coraghessan Boyle's short story, "The Hector Quesadilla Story," The Iowa Baseball Confederacy reminded me of nothing so much as the Magic Realism fiction by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Jorge Luis Borges.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Quintus Rex on November 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is a magnificent book, in so many ways. I've never been a sports fan of any kind, but after casually picking this book up -- without being able to put it down until far into the night, when I finished it -- I became entranced with the essence of the game which Kinsella captures so well.
This is one of the best fantasy novels I've read. It has something for everyone -- time travel, turn-of-the-century Americana, humor, mysticism, moments of High Weirdness, and, throughout, the power, mystery and symbolism of America's Game.
I loved "Field of Dreams", the film adapted from Kinsella's "Shoeless Joe" [another must-read], and I can only hope to see IBC follow the same path. One reading, however, will engrain the characters and plot in your imagination as no film can.
And guess who became a brand-new baseball fan? :)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By T. Bratz on September 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
W.P. Kinsella is one of my all-time favorite writers, and this is one of his better novels. If you've seen the movie, "Field of Dreams," or read his book "Shoeless Joe," which was the basis for the movie, you know what to expect from Kinsella.

His stories of baseball and magic are written for readers with vivid imaginations. This is a story of a researcher looking for proof of an old league that nobody else can remember. He somehow ends up at a never-ending exhibition game between the 1908 Cubs and the all-stars from this Iowa league.

As usual with Kinsella, the book is about a lot more than baseball. If you're the type of reader who can accept a story that seems totally unbelievbale, and if you like baseball, you should try this one. If you like it, he's written quite a few other books and I haven't found a bad one yet.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Baseball Fan on December 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
WOW, that's all that can describe this book. At first I thought this book to be slow, however, once I understood it, it became one of the best books I've ever read. W.P. Kinsella is a genuis. Just read this book, and Shoeless Joe, if you get a chance.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Stone Junction on February 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
THE IOWA BASEBALL CONFEDERACY is the finest ode to the mysteries of life ever to centre around baseball. W.P. Kinsella's name has become synonymous with his love for the sport, and sometimes it can become overwhelming. His short stories have a tendency to push the sentimentality over the edge into the realm of muadlin. Here, however, the mix is perfect.
Gideon Clarke has a problem. Ever since his father died, he has become obsessed with the Iowa Baseball Confederacy, a league that never existed, except in his mind. Or so it seems. Over the course of his searchings (and he does find the league), Gideon also relates the problems he has with reality, his destructive relationship with his wife, and his theories of temporal displacement and rips in the fabric of time.
Kinsella here achieves a mastery of the genre of magical realism, on par with the terrific LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE. As Gideon continues on his quest, events around him get more and more bizarre, until a town is slowly flooded, a wooden Indian bats cleanup, home runs never come back down to earth, and baseball games never end.
In other hands, this mixture of whimsy and fantasy would leave the reader cold and confused, but Kinsella never falters. The more strange things get, the more Gideon becomes the rock we hold onto, and his willingness to accept the things he cannot understand, his sheer joy at the absudity of his situation, ensures that the reader will follow him to the ends of the Earth, if need be.
THE IOWA BASEBALL CONFEDERACY is a wonderful book, and that's something, coming from someone who rejects a typical fantasy novel from the book cover alone. Lovers of fantasy should read this. Lovers of baseball should read this. Lovers of life should read this. Lovers of great stories should read this.
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