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Comment: The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include "From the library of" labels.
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The Southpaw Paperback – April 1, 1984

4.5 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"First off I must tell you something about myself, Henry Wiggen, and where I was born and my folks." The opening sentence of the first installment of Harris's majestic quartet of baseball-centered novels may not be as imprinted on the literary consciousness as "Call me Ishmael," but the true aficionados of sporting belles-lettres deemed it, right from its 1953 publication, a quality start. They are the words that introduced both Wiggen, one of the true all-star characters of postwar American fiction, and the story-telling device that is his memoir.

Wiggen, a big, burly lefthander who grew up halfway between New York and Albany, pitches as much with his head as his arm, and he tends to be somewhat out of synch with everyone around him--parents, teammates, coaches, even his girlfriend; no one has a grip on him. The novel traces the arc of his life from the small town where he grew up to his thrashing around the bush leagues to the spotlight that's on him every time he takes the mound for the fabled, fictional New York Mammoths. Through Wiggen, Harris takes the pulse of postwar America; what he finds is sometimes funny, sometimes disturbing, sometimes poignant, and always absorbing. Like a good pitch, Harris hurls a classic novel with considerable pace, plenty of movement, and a knack for artfully catching life's corners instead of powering its way obviously right down the pipe. --Jeff Silverman

Review

"As the temperature warmed up in recent days, there was no better way to prepare for the season than to reread Mark Harris’s The Southpaw, one of the finest sports books I know. . . . Harris loves the game itself, and he never loses sight of its value to America." —George Vecsey, The New York Times
(George Vecsey The New York Times )

"Cheers to Mark Harris, who gives us by far the best 'serious’ baseball novel published."—San Francisco Chronicle
(San Francisco Chronicle )

"Even those whose knowledge of baseball is elemental will find the book worth reading. For let there be no doubt about it, this is a distinguished and unusual book."—New York Times
(New York Times )

"It's greatly to Mr. Harris's credit that he makes his story credible, lends it a good deal of suspense and. . . gets the reader to thinking that Henry Wiggen deserves a fine future in baseball and out."—New York Herald Tribune
(New York Herald Tribune )

"Mr. Harris's novelistic achievement is a considerable one. He has taken a long, serious, and penetrating look at American mores and morals. And he has done this while telling a highly dramatic, colorful, and absorbingly exciting action story."—Saturday Review
(Saturday Review )
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Bison Books (April 1, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803272200
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803272200
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,877,055 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By JD Cetola VINE VOICE on February 17, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mark Harris' first installment in the Henry Wiggen series (there are four books total) is one of the finest baseball novels written. "The Southpaw" is the story of left-handed pitching phenom Henry Wiggen and his early career as a professional baseball star.
The novel is told in the form of Henry Wiggen's diary and the writing does take some getting used to as Henry's prose isn't particularly high caliber. It is, however, very real and its simplicity adds to the novel's sense of realism. Henry begins by talking about his father's (also a pitcher) career and then proceeds to discuss (briefly) his own high school career, his brief minor league career, and finally (in much more detail) his first season as a major leaguer.
The novel takes place in the early 1950s and as you read Henry's account you will be transported back in time to when ball players' contracts were in the $1K range and pitchers pitched 16-inning ball games and pitched on two-days rest. It's a great baseball book in that it gives some insight into the art of pitching and being a ballplayer in general, but it's much more than that. And those without an extensive knowledge of the wonderful game of baseball won't be lost or confused in reading it (it's not overly technical). Henry's essentially a young adult (early twenties at the end of the novel) and his growth experiences are listed (by Henry) right alongside his baseball experiences. "The Southpaw" is a fascinating read and provides a nice glimpse into baseball life (and life in general) in early 1950s America.
A great book and highly recommended reading--particularly for fans of baseball.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book at least once a year when I was growing up in the early 60's. The first few times were for the baseball, but that became less & less important. I insisted my fiance read it before we were married so she could understand "where I was coming from". I'm here(at Amazon.com) now to buy copies for some friends of mine. I wish it was still available in hardcover! I couldn't recommend it more highly.
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Format: Paperback
The story of Henry Wiggen and the New York Mammoths is one of the most enjoyable novels I have ever read. You will not want this story to end as Henry finds his way from small town to big city and to the big leagues. This simply and beautifully written novel is filled with timeless truths about life and baseball. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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Format: Paperback
The first Henry Wiggen novel is the best of them all. While not as well known as Bang the Drum Slowly, which is its sequel and which certainly deserves the praise it has received, The Southpaw is a wise, touching, and very funny book about a young man's coming of age in post-war America. All of the big themes of American life are here in a short, first person novel written in dialect (so hard to do well, here so effortless) about a young pitcher's journey to the major leagues -- race, class, ambition, envy, fame, friendship, love. All treated deftly, and with good humor. Finally, Henry Wiggen is as fresh and attractive as any character in recent American fiction. Read all of the Wiggen books, but start here.
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Format: Paperback
"The Southpaw" begins the great four book series on the career of New York Mammoth pitcher Henry Wiggen. Full of comedy, memorable characters and all the trials of a rookie in the major leagues. This is truly one of the best pieces of baseball fiction ever written, along with Philip Roth's "The Great American Novel", and I didn't want it to end. If you're a baseball fan you can't go wrong with this hilarious and loving tribute to the game.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This novel tells the tale of Henry Wiggen, 20 year old lefthanded pitching pheenom from the small town of Perkinsville, New York, and his journey through the bush leagues and farm clubs to playing for the New York Mammoths (Harris' fictionalized version of the New York Giants). Henry tells his own story in a loose, funny vernacular that is a hoot to read. Along the way he does a lot of growing up, and he learns that a man's goals in life should be higher than winning 20 games and pitching in the World Series (both of which Henry achieves). The book was written in 1953, and it offers a lovely picture of America's passtime just before big media and big money completely separated it from its humbler origins. (After winning 27 games, two World Series starts, and the league MVP, Henry is happy to get a contract for the next year paying him $12,250.) I'm not a huge baseball fan, but The Southpaw isn't really about sports - it's about adapting to life as it is rather than as you imagine it will be - and I recommend it to anyone who likes stories full of humor and humanity. I look forward to reading the three other books that Harris wrote about Henry Wiggen.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I am 10 years of age, and I loved this book! The authors style is very unique. If you want a short summary of this book, here it is:

The main character in this book is named Henry Wiggen. He lives with his father and his girlfriend. His father is a Southpaw, and so is he. His father is a very good pitcher, and has taught him a lot about pitching. He signs a contract with the New York Mammoths. He makes 3 good friends in AA, and movesto the big leauges.

In addition to being a very good book, this gives you a lot of info on pitching, like hat pitches are better to use when the wind it blowing this way, or epending on if it is day or night.

I certainly reccomend this book!

Mac
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