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It would be one star, but...
on February 18, 2006
I just don't have the heart to rate a work of fiction with baseball as the topic with just one star. Still...
Like a lot of writers who take on baseball, Baker just doesn't take the game all that seriously. How else to explain the caricatures disguised as characters in this tedious tome of a novel? The book has it's "good guys" who are all beyond reproach and it's "bad guys" led by a baseball manager who is so over-the-top foolish it's impossible to find him believable. Because the characters are caricatures, the book lacks credibility. And please, to all fiction writers who write about baseball: enough with the nicknames! Not everyone in baseball has one, particularly names like "Swizzle" and "The Big 'Un". Enough already.
Now, you can get away with thin characters in a novel if you've got a larger point or symbol... or something. Baker drops hints throughout that his book is really about tying in all the wonderful legends and myths surrounding some of the games greats (baseball fans will recognize the past of Cobb, Clemente, among others). His point being... well, I don't think there is one which is terribly disappointing because I've heard Baker is a pretty damn good writer. I think Baker fell into the same trap that other writers fall into when the they write about baseball--they're fascinated by the sport but not enough to take it seriously as a basis for art. I remember when Ken Burns was making his documentary on Jazz and he said it was refereshing to work on a serious subject because his last documentary was on baseball. I can't help but feel that after this effort, Baker is looking forward to his next effort.
If I were to summarize it one sentence, I'd say the book reads like an R-rated after-school special, with characters about as deep as what we grew up watching on ABC--predictable and forgettable.