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Shoeless Joe (RosettaBooks Sports Classics Book 1) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 276 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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As do the dreams of several others. Ray’s father, who played only briefly in the minor leagues but worshipped the game fervently throughout his life, also comes, as do Moonlight Graham, another character from the early years of the game who only played one inning in the majors and never got a chance to go to bat, and J.D. Salinger who, according to this novel, harbored a dearly held aspiration as a youth to play professional ball at the Polo Grounds. For all of them Ray’s baseball diamond isn’t Iowa, it’s heaven.
Canadian author W.P. Kinsella has thumbed through his Baseball Encyclopedia with intense concentration and it’s pretty admirable the way he spins an enchanting tale out of the facts and personalities he’s found there. The allegorical possibilities of baseball are stretched, gloriously, deliriously, to their limit and beyond, as immortal baseball gods return to earth to play their game, which is really the religious rites of their faith, on a cornfield that has been lovingly converted to a baseball diamond. In the meantime Ray needs to figure out a way to keep up with his mortgage payments so his family can stay on the farm because if he can’t there’s a greedy developer eyeing his baseball diamond as the last puzzle piece in a large tract being assembled for development.
Grounding the nostalgic, mythical healing property of baseball in the team which has become a byword for dishonesty and corruption is questionable but the book does rise to a sort of poetic euphoria with it’s lyrical evocations of a past that never was. When J.D. Salinger expresses this sentiment, one which was forcefully and eloquently expressed by James Earl Jones in the film where he plays the author Terence Mann (Salinger threatened to sue the filmmakers if they used his name), “America has been erased like a blackboard, only to be rebuilt and then erased again. But baseball has marked time while America has rolled by like a procession of steamrollers” you realize that this novel is steamrolling history, or at least erasing it, to rebuild the American past according to a collective dream logic, made up of carefully chosen components which activate a nostalgic yearning then satisfy that yearning in the same manner that a psychic conflict is resolved through a dream.
It was an assigned book for an 8th grader- a perfect time to be exposed to such quality- and best "served" if the teacher is smart and enthusiastic.
Parents- this may be one of few times your 8th grader will ask you to read to them: do it.
Except for the fact that the author uses complex metaphors and similes - sometimes two in the same sentence! - ad nauseum--the book adds new dimension and depth to concept of the field and personalities that surround it--including Ray's identical twin brother! Having just watched the movie for the umpteenth time, I decided to research it's origin and found Shoeless Shoe --glad I did.