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Bang the Drum Slowly (Second Edition) Paperback – December 1, 2003
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This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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Sure, Harris's most acclaimed novel, the second of his Henry Wiggen books, centers around a pair of ballplayers for the fictionally fabled New York Mammoths--the novel's narrator, pitcher Wiggen, and Bruce Pearson, his tag-along catcher and best friend. And sure, on one level, it's the conventional tale of a disparate dugout population cohering over the course of a season and marching ineluctably toward the World Series. But convention, like a 55-foot curveball, ends there and then scoots off in its own unpredictable direction. Harris's story--funny, bittersweet, and affecting--is, in the end, a haunting meditation on life, death, friendship, and loyalty. That it's set against the backdrop of the Major Leagues makes it a baseball novel. That it's a brilliant study of human nature, passionately felt and beautifully crafted, makes it enduring literature. --Jeff Silverman --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Top customer reviews
Harris uses a somewhat strange first person vernacular to tell the story, but after the first couple of pages it seems as if Henry Wiggin is talking directly to you over a beer or a cup of coffee, telling you about that summer of baseball and what happened to his friend, Bruce. I found the technique enormously effective. I also really enjoyed some of Wiggin's observations about life and the unanswered questions he raises about the human condition. (If we all know we're going to die, why don't we go out and live it up more?)
Harris wrote this novel back in the 1950s and it clearly demonstrates how the status of professional athletes and sports in general have changed in the last half century. As someone who has written about sports in the fifties (HOOP CRAZY: COLLEGE BASKETBALL IN THE 1950S), I found this book to be something of a historical document as well as a terrific novel. All in all, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys sports fiction or anyone who liks well written novels in general.
The main occupational malady of a novel about baseball -- the necessity for describing one game after another -- is relieved, here, by skillful diversionary measures. There are all sorts of feuds and alliances among the players and the front office. There is the question of Bruce Pearson's survival. There is Wiggen's own teeming private life. There is the epochal doubt that one of the Mammoths will overtake Babe Ruth's home-run record. All in all, this is a book for the books!
The friendship between Henry and Bruce is what really makes this story a classic. It doesn't really start off that way since Henry sold insurance to Bruce (back when ballplayers needed a job in the offseason for the extra income) and then finds out afterward about Bruce's condition. The journey Henry takes while his friend is dying is humorous, poignant and sad, yet surprisingly upbeat through most of it. Deserves its status as a classic.