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The Game Paperback – May 3, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Whenever you run into me, wherever it is that we are, and whatever it is that we are supposed to be doing, it is wise to remember that I would generally rather be at the ballpark." Benson (Living Prayer) recounts his experiences in baseball, his family and life during this whimsical, flowing account of a minor league baseball game between the Iowa Cubs and the Nashville Sounds. The book is constructed in nine chapters, each prefaced with a quote from late Major League Baseball commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti, to match the nine innings of a baseball game, but the structure is rather loose, permitting the author to muse on a variety of subjects, including the Chicago Cubs, his relationship with his wife and a book tour. Although overtly self-conscious, Benson tries his hardest to write in the tradition of high-class baseball writers (think Giamatti and George Will, rather than W.P. Kinsella or Bull Durham), and at times he succeeds: "Those who do not frequent baseball diamonds do not know about the cosmic principle known as If They See It, They Will Slide. If you are a kid, and you are running toward a base on a baseball diamond, and there is absolutely no reason to slide, you will slide anyway. Just for the joy of it. Just for the pretend of it. Just for the dust and the dirt of it. Just for the fact that some cosmic force requires it. It may well be how, if not exactly why, the game of baseball was invented in the first place." He does say some things that will rub a certain type of baseball fan the wrong way, such as that he roots for both the Braves and the Yankees. Literary-minded fans who believe that baseball is a mirror for life will enjoy this book.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Benson (Living Prayer) has season tickets to his home-town minor league team in Nashville, and he structures this book around the action of a typical game. He has produced an intriguing meditative piece on the magnetic pull of baseball, spicing his book with apt quotes from both baseball and literary stars but leaving little doubt that, given the choice, he would rather have been a great ballplayer than a great writer. Thoughtful fans will enjoy.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Tarcher (May 3, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585423416
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585423415
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,350,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I come from a family of writers and publishers and other folks who spent much of their lives working with and around writers and musicians and producers and artists. One of my grandfathers was a poet and a publisher and my father was a writer and a speaker. My grandmother loved poetry and novels and used to invite me to her house to play Scrabble. Words and sentences and stories have mattered most to me for most all my life
I grew up in a small bedroom community just outside Nashville, Tennessee. I left once to study English literature in California and again for a couple of years and a couple of cold winters to write advertising in Chicago, but all in all, Tennessee is home to me. While I was in Chicago I published my first book, Private Visions in Public Places, a coffee table book with someone else's photographs of the city. I got off the escalator one day in Water Tower Place and saw a bookstore window with a big display of the book. I have never recovered.
In between California and Chicago, I spent almost ten years heading up the marketing team for The Benson Company in Nashville, the major religious music firm that bore the family name. There followed several years as a freelance writer and editor, and two years on the staff of Upper Room Books. I graduated from The Academy for Spiritual Formation, a two-year program of study and prayer in community with some sixty people from across the South and also became a member of The Friends of Silence & of the Poor, an international prayer community.
Somewhere in there, I began to find my own voice. I had always written ' journals, bad adolescent poetry, advertising, even ghostwriting a couple of books. I even made a living at it. One day I discovered that I could no longer write for hire, because I could not get my own voice out of my head and it was time to begin to write my own stories.
I write two kinds of books about one thing ' paying attention.
I write about paying attention for the things that can point us to the Sacred in our lives. About the longings that we have for home and community and a sense of belonging in our lives. About practice and ritual and work and contemplation and the way that such things can be constant reminders of who we are and who we are to become.
One kind of book that I writes is overtly religious. They are books that are written for readers who are interested in discussing such things in the traditional language that the Church uses ' the language of spirituality and prayer and liturgy, the language of religion.
The second kind of book is less overtly religious. They are written to try and discover the holy, if you will, that is to be found in the ordinary. They are written about more general subjects, everything from baseball to gardening to travel
So now there is a body of work that has been published to favorable reviews from The New York Times, USA Today, and other major newspapers, critical acclaim from the publishing community as evidenced by the reviews in Publishers' Weekly, BookPage, and other reviewers, and notable comments from other writers in the field of spirituality. All of which is pretty surprising to me.
I have somehow managed to stumble into living almost exactly the kind of life to which I have been drawn since I was old enough to wonder about what I wanted to be when I grew up.
I live in Nashville still where I write every day in a small studio in our back garden, see my children and their friends every time I get a chance, and take seriously the call to participate in the prayer that sanctifies the day and the work of the world. I am married to the literary agent Sara Fortenberry, for whom I am gratefully yard man, travel companion and head librarian. And I get to say yes a few times a year to opportunities to lead seminars and retreats on prayer, silence, writing, and spirituality, subjects I have led dozens of retreats on around the country in recent years.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David Zauhar on July 30, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the best baseball books out there, for my money better than books by the likes of Bob Costas and George Will. Why? Because this is a book about the actual pleasures of the game: playing it, teaching it to children, watching and keeping score of live games, and so forth. Most books about baseball become treatises on the metaphysics of the game. This one is about the sport itself, as it is actually played on sandlots and in professional stadiums. Robert Benson writes about just a few ordinary games and a several extraordinary memories and thus avoids the tedious abstractions that infect the prose of many writers on the sport (excluding the likes of Gammons and Boswell, and a few others). There is no other American sports book quite like this one. The closest book I can compare it to would be Nick Hornby's FEVER PITCH, which is a classic exploration of what life is like for a sports fan (in this case, an English soccer fan). Benson's book does the same thing, in my opinion, for baseball, which is the highest praise I can give it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy M. Hoover on June 7, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I eagerly awaited this new release from Robert Benson, having savored his two previous non-fiction books and the prayer book he had published. At first, though, I was disappointed: I was waiting for some of his customary spiritual autobiography based on baseball themes, but did not get any. Instead, Benson charts the understanding of his life through the plot of a nine inning baseball game that he sat through at Greer Stadium in Nashville. Each chapter reports what Benson saw at the game, and proceeds to record his ruminations about his life, sparked by the events of the game. Also thrown in are several quotations from Bartlett Giamatti, the esteemed former commissioner of baseball. A word of caution: If you are seeking to buy this book for spiritual insight, you might stick with a rereading of Living Prayer or Between the Dreaming and the Coming True. But if you want to read a book for the pure pleasure of Benson's masterful prose, then you cannot go wrong with this selection; his prose gets better and better the more he publishes. After getting over my initial frustration (which was my fault; not Benson's), I read the book in one night and was very satisfied. I strongly recommend this book to all baseball fans and to fans of Robert Benson. I gave the book four stars instead of five only because I felt that when Benson applied his insights to life he became too moralistic and determinative, instead of the usual open-ended application I have come to expect from him.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By James P. Oliver on May 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
That's the title of late baseball commissioner & renaissance scholar Bart Giamatti's collected baseball essays, and it also summarizes Robert Benson's passion for the game. Giamatti clearly is one of Benson's heroes, not least for the grace and elegant simplicity of style that both bring to their reflections on our national pastime. This is a baseball book, but more than that it is a book about passion itself. The life-lessons Benson extracts from the game's routine and ritual are profound; his manner of conveying them is sweet and appealing, especially to those of us who (like the author) also share a passion for baseball with our children and believe in what ex-Yankee (and ex-Nashville Sound) Don Mattingly called the pleasure of "passing stuff along." This is a special treat for fans of the minor league game and for Nashville's Greer Stadium faithful in particular. Just one glitch worth mentioning: it was Jack Buck, not Vin Scully, who reported Kirk Gibson's legendarily improbable pinch-homer in the '88 World Series with the exclamation "I don't believe what I just saw!" But that's hardly worth mentioning and I wouldn't, if I weren't a Jack Buck fan. Anyway, thanks Mr. Benson. See you at the ballpark!
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 28, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Although I enjoyed this book's leisurely stroll through one man's relationship with baseball, I was disturbed by some serious screwups.
First, Benson gets wrong the year Roger Maris' single season record for home runs was broken. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa pursued and passed Maris in 1998, not 1999. This is an almost unbelievable error. Only three seasons after the fact, a baseball author making this mistake is like an American historian writing about the original twelve colonies.
Six pages later we read about the famous home run hit by
"a light hitting infielder named Bobby Thomson" in 1951. Thomson was an outfielder and finished tied for fourth (with Stan Musial) in the National League in home runs that year with 32.
Since Benson's book is built on his lifelong love of the game, mistakes like this diminish our trust even if they don't make us doubt the depth of his feeling. His sincerity seems very real, and his writing is smooth, personal and appealing.
Mistakes aside, it's nice to read a baseball book by a fan who is a writer first.
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