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Shoeless Joe Paperback – September 29, 1996

4.2 out of 5 stars 243 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

W. P. Kinsella plays with both myth and fantasy in his lyrical novel, which was adapted into the enormously popular movie, Field of Dreams. It begins with the magic of a godlike voice in a cornfield, and ends with the magic of a son playing catch with the ghost of his father. In Kinsella's hands, it's all about as simple, and complex, as the object of baseball itself: coming home. Like Ring Lardner and Bernard Malamud before him, Kinsella spins baseball as backdrop and metaphor, and, like his predecessors, uses the game to tell us a little something more about who we are and what we need.

Review

"W. P. Kinsella plays with both myth and fantasy in his lyrical novel, which was adapted into the enormously popular movie, 'Field of Dreams.' It begins with the magic of a godlike voice in a cornfield, and ends with the magic of a son playing catch with the ghost of his father. In Kinsella's hands, it's all about as simple, and complex, as the object of baseball itself: coming home. Like Ring Lardner and Bernard Malamud before him, Kinsella spins baseball as backdrop and metaphor, and, like his predecessors, uses the game to tell us a little something more about who we are and what we need." Amazon.com
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 265 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st Ballantine Books Trade Ed edition (September 29, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345410076
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345410078
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (243 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,088,641 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Harold Polsky on February 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
After reading all the reviews of Shoeless Joe, I think the title I chose for this review is perfect.

First, let me state the obvious: most of the people who panned this book outright had to read it for school, and write a report on it. I can honestly say that, in my opinion, this book is not for your average high school student. The ideas and themes in this novel, not to mention the ideals and dreams, are very difficult to comprehend if you're still in high school. Some of the life experiences, that are are required to understand what Mr. Kinsella is saying, are still years away. It's a shame that these students are forced to read something that, in my opinion, they are not yet ready for. If they waited until they were older, they would understand. And they would love the book.

This is not Field of Dreams. That movie is the result of Hollywood taking this story, clipping here and editing there, and coming up with a screenplay that, while outstanding in its own way, is severely lacking in the substance of what this book is about.

It's about life. It's about dreams and realities. It's about injustice and redemption. But most of all, it's about love and family.

Ray Kinsella is an anomaly in today's society. He is a 1960s dreamer in a world full of pragmatic realists. He sees things that most people overlook. He remembers things that most people consider insignificant. But, most of all, he hears things that others cannot hear.

"If you build it, he will come." A raspy, baseball announcer's voice in the middle of an Iowa cornfield says those seven words, and Ray Kinsella knows exactly what they mean.
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Format: Paperback
W.P Kinsella. Shoeless Joe. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1982. 265 pp. $22.95.
When was the last time you tumbled onto cool, moist grass, looked up at the robin's-egg blue sky, and imagined that the clouds were forming shapes of various animals? Or the last time you felt total freedom while lifting yourself skyward on an old tree swing, back when summer never seemed to end?
These and many more childhood memories will come alive while reading Shoeless Joe. W.P. Kinsella's fictional accounting centers on baseball legend Joe Jackson, one of the Chicago "Black" Sox 8, who was permanently banned from baseball. Joe's magical appearance in an Iowa cornfield initiates a journey for main character Ray Kinsella, to not only fulfill his dreams, but those of many extraordinary characters, too.
At first glance, the book is about baseball and Ray's journey to fulfill the request of the voice, "If you build it, he will come." But as Ray ventures across the country the reader begins to sense that, as in The Wizard of Oz, anything is possible, simply by believing. As the plot develops, Ray's acceptance of the mystical, almost religious aspects of baseball, allows the reader to revisit dreams from his own past, too. Ray says, "Your secret dreams grow over the years like apple seeds sown in your belly...sprout through your skin, gentle and soft and wondrous, and they breathe and have a life on their own...."
Though most of the characters are as refreshing as a Popsicle or as rich as a Fudgsicle on a summer's day, Ray's wife, Annie is far too loving and weak. Female readers, in particular, may have difficulty connecting to Annie's life, with her lack of protest when her husband plans to plow under their crops to construct a ball-field.
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Format: Paperback
"Never judge a book by its movie," they say, and in this case the adage holds true. "Field of Dreams" has been around since 1989 and is not merely a baseball flick, or a Kevin Costner starlight -- it's the depiction of a spiritual journey for both Ray Kinsella and the audience. The book "Shoeless Joe," on the other hand, provides more food for thought and additional storylines. If you simply see the movie, you'll miss out on meeting Kid Scissons, the oldest living Chicago Cub, who rented his farm to Ray and Annie. You won't know that Ray has a twin brother Richard who left home at 15, never to be seen or heard from again, until the time that Ray built his baseball field. And though there are times when the novel's characters share the same script with their movie counterparts, there are many more instances when they don't.
If you are the kind of person who has to watch "Field of Dreams" at least once a year, then you should jump back a step and read "Shoeless Joe." Better yet, you should make the trip to Dyersville, Iowa, where the field and the farmhouse still exist and look just as they did in the movie. If you can stand on that baseball field without any emotion or without a chill moving along your spine, then someone better check your pulse.
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Format: Paperback
For those of us who love baseball, who love the history of baseball, this book explains ourselves to ourselves. You will have complete and total empathy with the majority of the characters populating this tale.
If you don't "get" baseball, this book may provide some insight.
Mr. Kinsella has written a highly original story, written so well some passages seem to sing, that addresses such human conditions as parental loss, unreserved trust, unquestioning love.
And baseball.
The line between reality and fiction is playfully drawn. The author and the protagonist have the same last name. J.D. Salinger and Shoeless Joe are real people.
The action such that it is centers around a magical ballfield created in the midst of a small Iowa farm.
The book is filled with so many wonderful moments that listing them would be insulting to the book.
If you're familiar with the film, "Field of Dreams", then you know the story...but the book is so much fuller. Richer. They actually complement each other well.
This is a perfect book to read during this time of year...
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