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The Cuban Prospect Hardcover – February 24, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook Hardcover; 1 edition (February 24, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585673447
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585673445
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,570,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Shawver's debut follows a failed baseball player and minor league scout who is sent to Cuba to smuggle out a young pitching phenom. Dennis Birch is still bemoaning having lost his position as catcher on a minor league team because of poor performance. He's been working as a scout for six months when he gets the covert assignment-a job for which the credulous Birch (self-described as a man "on whom many things are lost") is perilously unsuited. His contact in Cuba is Charlie Dance. The 400-pound Dance, who has organized the operation, is so repulsive even hookers won't take his money, and so obviously suspicious that even Birch doesn't entirely trust him. The pitching prospect, Ramon Diego Sagasta, is arrogant and not terribly bright, but Birch thinks his incredible skills make him worth risking life and limb for. Naturally, their escape plans go awry, and the Cuban police give chase. The plot unravels somewhat in the last third of the novel. Sagasta disappears, having bought his way out of Cuba himself. Birch remains in the country, where his intrigue with Dance and Sagasta's girlfriend strains credibility. The premise is intriguing, and Shawver's portrait of the astringent Birch and his brewing resentment of Sagasta is believable, though their dialogue often sounds forced. The author also unnecessarily recaps earlier events, slowing the narrative. This likable first effort is sure to find fans among readers of baseball novels, if not a wider audience.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Dennis Birch never made it to major-league baseball. Now he scours the Mexican minors, verifying the bona fides of local phenoms. A last chance for baseball immortality comes his way when he's assigned to smuggle a promising Cuban pitcher across the Caribbean to the Florida Keys. His major-league employer puts him in touch with Charles Dancer, its unofficial representative in rural Cuba. Dancer, who seems to model himself physically and ethically after Sydney Greenstreet in The Maltese Falcon, fills Birch in on a poorly formed plan to smuggle Ramon Diego Sagasta out of Cuba and into the U.S., where fame and riches await him. Unfortunately, Birch and Sagasta are stymied at every turn by bandits, corrupt officials, and their own foolishness. Even as he forges ahead, Birch comes to understand that greatness, even reflected, is not a quality to which he can aspire. First-novelist Shawver writes with sad passion about small lives swirling aimlessly in search of external verification when perhaps an inward glance is all that's needed. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Wow! That is my first impression after reading the Cuban Prospect. I picked it up thinking it would probably be a humorous tale about baseball (kinda of a "Bull Durham" in Cuba), but it was so much more that!
It is the story of a washed up minor league ballplayer, turned scout who gets the assignment of sneaking a hot new prospect, Ramon Diego Sagasta, out of Communist Cuba. Along the way, the duo encounters everything from flying fruit to inept Cuban cops. However, while the story is entertaining, the true magic lies in the meaning of each man's journey (the end has a twist).
I found the main characters very real and very engaging. The prose the author uses is amazing and the smart recollection of baseball's past only adds to the enjoyment of the book.
For anyone who ever wanted so bad to be a part of something, but wasn't good enough to do it, read this book. As Ramon Sagasta will tell you, some people will do anything just for the chance to be a part of history.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Boyle on July 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
You don't have to be a baseball lover to appreciate this brilliant novel. The game merely serves as a vehicle for the self-realization and adventure experienced by two men. The character development and descriptive style employed by the writer made the book a joy to read. Like most readers, I can't wait for Brian Shawver's next novel!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
What a great book. Everybody should read the Cuban Prospect to come to an understand of the depths people will go to to live vicariously through the success of others. If you can't be a great baseball player, at least you can be remembered for your association with one - or at least that's what the narrator of this fine first novel thinks. His final realization that there is more to life than fame is poignant, as is the ease with which Shawver brings this brief book to its superb conclusion.
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