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The Universal Baseball Association Paperback – November 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for The work of Robert Coover:

"Robert Coover is one of the most original and exciting writers around. Every new book from him is great news." --Edwidge Danticat, McSweeney's

"Coover adds his dazzling two bits to the deconstructionist turf Paul Auster prowled in The New York Trilogy." --Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"[A] brilliant parody of noir and hardboiled fiction and film." --Michael Lipkin, New York Journal of Books

"Right from the start the book nearly matches On the Road for sheer electricity . . . Coover made baseball on the page seem three-dimensional, exulting in what he called the game's 'almost perfect balance between offense and defense.' He captured what Philip Roth, in a 1973 New York Times essay on baseball, called 'its longueurs and thrills, its spaciousness, its suspensefulness, its heroics, its nuances, its lingo, its'characters,' its peculiarly hypnotic tedium'. . . The genius of the novel is in how Coover revels in the sun-bright vitality of the world Waugh has created, full of drink and lust and dirty limericks and doubles down the line -- and yet brings Waugh face to face with its darkest truths." --The New York Times Book Review

About the Author

Robert Coover is widely regarded as one of America's most influential living writers, author of some fifteen groundbreaking books of fiction, including Pricksongs & Descants, The Public Burning, and most recently Ghost Town. Coover has for the past decade been teaching experimental courses in hypertext and multimedia narrative at Brown University. His 1992 essay on hypertext in the New York Times Book Review, "The End of Books," galvanized electronic literature fans around the world.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: The Overlook Press; Reprint edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590203119
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590203118
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,016 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J. Smallridge on February 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
This if one of the top 50 books I've ever read. As someone who spent an entire childhood creating (and sustaining) a fantasy basketball league with players whose names were created out of telephone books and stats recorded on bounds of college-ruled notebook paper, I could relate completely to J. Henry Waugh and his association. (I'm ashamed to admit that I even recorded my own post-game interviews with imaginary players and used the 4-point shot rather than the 3-point shot as a way to more easily tabulate the scores).

I was incredibly interested in the main themes of this work, which include humankind's constant desire to innovate and overcome loneliness. Early on, Coover raises the fundamental question of what does one owe to the self and extensions thereof? As the novel progresses, he effectively shows how our creations have the unhealthy ability to ultimately overwhelm us and isolate us. The final chapter is brilliant. The author, in the end, addressed fundamental questions in prose that is simple and understated. This is an underrated classic of our time.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Josh Murray on December 14, 2011
Format: Paperback
If you are a baseball fan who grew up playing Strat-O-Matic you will like this book. If you announced your games, talked to your players, and generally enjoyed creating a fantasy baseball world you could inhabit, you will love this book. Coover captures the fun of tabletop simulations, along with the engrossing nature of the projects fans design.

While this is a good book for a certain type of baseball fan, it is also simply a good book. Coover delves deep into the human psyche and in the process explores questions of human nature, issues of free will, morality, relativity vs. objective reality, etc. through his character of J. Henry Waugh.

I first read this book when I checked it out of the public library as a teenager, and I loved it. I bought my own copy recently and have since read it twice more. There is great depth to this book that captivates the reader as much as the Association captivates Henry Waugh.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Marshall C. Christy on February 18, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recently acquired a copy of "The Universal Baseball
Association in order to re-read it. I initially read it many years back,shortly after it was originally published. I went through the re-read in a couple days, the book fascinated me as much as it had when I first read it. My particular fascination with this novel revolves around the fact that the protagonist, Henry Waugh is a player of table-top baseball games. This is the only novel I know of where that would be true. If you don't know about table-top baseball these are games which are simulations of baseball games, played with cards and dice. It is obviously a rather esoteric pursuit and if you don't know anything about it you might not be interested in the novel. I have played such games all my life as I suspect, Mr. Coover, the author has as well.
The book certainly could be read on several levels, I suspect the author is trying to use Henry Waugh and his fictional baseball universe as an analogy for a much bigger story about God and man and the universe we live in. But that's not what interests me, it's all about the game that Henry plays and the difficulty he has with it for me. In closing, I'll just say again, an excellent book but maybe of limited interest if you're not into games the way I am.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Michael T Rael on April 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I initially came across the title in a Baseball forum and because I have read and enjoyed numerous books about our National Pastime and am also a baseball board game geek, I was really looking forward to reading this book.

I read the sample on my Kindle and thoroughly enjoyed it and made the purchase for the full book. I enjoyed the main character's over-involvement with his baseball game and how his real life was intertwined. The author is extremely descriptive in describing the baseball characters and all the aspects of his game to the point that you can picture the images clearly.

I soon realized this was more of a book on a dark obsession with a baseball game story line and adjusted my expectations. For me however, there were so many fictional baseball players in the book that I repeatedly had to turn back pages to keep up with them and in hindsight felt I should have written them down as I read. The author blends the main character's story with his fictional players' stories so often without warning, pause, or paragraph it caused me to pause to establish who I was reading about.

As I progressed through the book I wanted to read more about the main character and how his life was deteriorating due to his obsession. Instead I continued to read about these fictional ballplayers he made up and their lives and stories which he was living out in his mind.

If you're looking for a book about a dark obsession, a game like Strat-O-Matic baseball, fictional baseball characters, and descriptive writing; this book is for you. Just be aware that you may not get enough of some and too much of another.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Steven Tower on June 7, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Cooper captures the fantasy world of Henry with such stunning detail that the reader can easily get lost in it as well. As a tabletop gamer myself, it was fascinating to read the scene in which Henry tries (and fails miserably) to teach a friend how he plays his game. Henry is a tragic figure for sure who becomes more and more drawn into his fantasy world, and more and more withdrawn from the real world.
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