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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
25
The Celebrant: A Novel
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on June 10, 2012
Sports Illustrated picked this as one of the best baseball novels and I heartily agree. Greenberg brings a time and place to life - New York when the Giants were the lords of baseball and the Yankees were beginning to intrude on their dominant position. I think the portraits of the great Mathewson, his fabled manager and the men who played for the Giants are all outstanding. If you liked The Glory of Their Times you will enjoy this novel.
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VINE VOICEon November 18, 2004
If there were a Hall of Fame for baseball books, Mr. Greenberg's book would surely be inducted. Perhaps not on the first ballot, but definitely within the first few years of eligibility.

This book made me feel as though I'd stepped through a time-warp and into the stands of the Polo Grounds 100 years ago. The baseball scenes are told with an obvious fondness through the eyes of the narrator, whose life we learn about through his musings on his beloved Giants and the magnificent Christie Matthewson.

Spanning almost twenty years of baseball action, from Matty's rookie season no-hitter through his death in the mid 1920's, we are given a glimpse of how life used to be for an avid baseball fan. We are treated to encounters with John McGraw, Hal Chase, Smokey Joe Wood, Amos Rusie, and Christie Matthewson himself. Near the end of the book there is an impressive amount of time given to the 1919 Black Sox, and the tainted World Series against the Reds.
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on November 23, 2014
One of the most interesting sports novels I have ever had the pleasure to read. Great detail thoroughly researched about an era in baseball most know little of together with an interesting story, also based on a family of the early 20th century. Great fun!!!
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on May 4, 2004
This book not only takes you back in time to see the early baseball legends so clearly you think you actually watched them play, but it also creates a picture of the era they lived in: life-style, business experience, ethnic experience. It would make a great choice for a high school student doing a book report or history report on the early 20th century.
The Celebrant shows us the origins of hero worship at the birth of the pop culture era - both good and bad. Jackie's love of Matty is embodied in the beauty of the rings he gave the pitcher and at the same time it is obsession that leads (at least in part) to the destruction of someone Jackie has a "real-life" relationship with (as opposed to one based on fantasy).
Some reviewers here are not satisfied with the ending, but I kind of enjoyed the ambiguity of it. This man will never be able to remember the joy of watching Matty pitch without also thinking of the personal tragedy it will forever be linked with. The great and the terrible are forever woven together in a past we see clearly through Jackie's memories.
This observation won't make sense unless you've seen the film, but there's an epilogue at the end of Barry Lyndon (and I'm butchering it) - "all these souls, whether good or evil, great or small, are all long dead and forgotten save to memory." Something like that. That's how this book plays out. It's very much in the past. Very much a part of distant memory and yet Grenberg gives us access to those memories as if they are our own. When I see picture of Matty now I smile as if I watched him play myself. And there's saddness in the memory. I remember Matty's life cut short and I remember Eli. And they both are equally real to me.
Anyway, it's a wonderful time machine and you need to have that baseball fan in your life read it - especially if it's a young person who never heard of the "immortals."
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on December 28, 2016
The single novel that brings to home the magic of America's past time. Pure joy to read for anyone who loves the crack of the bat and the sound of horse hide striking leather.
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on March 31, 2013
This is a must read for real in-depth baseball fans, particularly if you like the history of the game and the turn of the 20th century stars who made the game great. This is a wonderful muse about one of the greatest players of all-time--Christy Mathewson.

This book ranks with the best baseball books ever published, including "The Glory of Their Times" and "The Boys of Summer".
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on July 7, 2011
Really not much to say in addition to the wonderful reviews other than READ this book. It's beautiful in it's simplicity, story and language. The voice of the narrative is so authentic, the baseball is educational, but the book is a lot more than just a baseball book. It's a glimpse into America's past in so many ways with baseball being the central piece. Highly reccomend!!
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on November 12, 2009
There's little to add to the many glowing comments recorded here, except to say that as historical fiction focused on baseball, this book contains all that is great about the American novel, it vividly recreates the time period, it has strong character development and it conjures vivid images about the sport its protagonist celebrates. Guess there was plenty to say...
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on May 27, 2016
Excellent.
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on April 20, 2014
This is more than a great baseball book -- it's a fine novel about the American Experience. Greenberg is in the same class as Malamud, Roth and Mark Harris.
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