Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Play Ball!

Personally, I much prefer reading books and watching movies about baseball to, you know, actually viewing the sport on television or in person. If you agree, check out Natalie's baseball reading list!

Overshadowed by the ginormous freaking scary storm is the news fact that the San Fran Giants just swept the Detroit Tigers to win the 2012 World Series. If all of that sounds Greek to you, here are a bunch of baseball books to keep your homeruns and field goals straight. 

Read this rightthisveryminute, like before you finish this post (it's ok, the post will keep): The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach: Try to keep your "F@&^, this is the dude's first novel" anger to a minimum and just enjoy this long but much too short novel about college baseball, love, and growing up on a college campus. 

Get a little multi-cultural: The Japanese love baseball and The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa displays that love through an older professor and the housekeeper (and her baseball-obsessed son) and the way all of their lives are changed. The translation is shaky and it's one that I appreciate much more after reading (rather than loving it as I read) but I think it's worth a read.

Watch a movie: Bull Durham: Maybe it's just because I spent an inordinate amount of time during my MA in Mitch's Tavern, or because I'm from NC, or because I watched loads of minor league baseball as a kid . . . whatever it is, I think it's bigger than any of those things. Bull Durham is just film gold. [Mitch's Tavern is the bar featured in the film--salty waitresses who will gradually strengthen your drinks as they realize you're gonna be a regular.]

Read a master: Don DeLillo's Pafko at the Wall (or, the first part of Underworld): "Savvy" marketing people repackaged the baseball section of Underworld into a teeny book, Pafko at the Wall. I don't really care how you read DeLillo, as long as you read DeLillo (well, not Cosmopolis; let's give the man one pass for a not-so-great book).

If you absolutely must compare your dick to a baseball bat: AND then you have to title it The Great American Novel. Your name MUST be Philip Roth. I never recommend reading Roth. Not unless someone hits me with a bat upside my head.

Huh, so that's a book?: The Natural by Bernard Malamud: So, if you've seen Robert Redford take a swing and liked it, you might have a go at this little book.

Huh, so that's a book? Part 2, the non-fiction edition: Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella: If you've seen Kevin Costner go a little batty about building a field and people coming, you might try this book. And, yeah, while you're at it, just go ahead and watch The Natural and Field of Dreams if you haven't already. Please tell me you have already...

Almost famous: Ring Lardner's Ring around the Bases: Lardner was semi-famous as a baseball writer and not-at-all famous as F. Scott Fitzgerald's close friend (and likely model for Abe North in Tender Is the Night) and even less famous as short story author edited by the famous Maxwell Perkins. But, his lack of fame speaks nothing of his writing talent.

Something of a circus freak: Wherever I Wind Up by R.A. Dickey: So, first of all this major league pitcher is missing a ligament in his elbow. Second, that lack of ligament makes him an awesome knuckleballer (the only exclusively knuckleball pitcher currently in the league). Third, he's climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. Fourth, he was an English major who quotes Faulkner (and we're talking Absalom, Absalom!) and says shit like "Kairotic moments" like the rest of us say "ice cream." So, yeah, this is his autobiography.

Stuff of fantasy: The Universal Baseball Association by Robert Coover: If you can't join 'em, boss 'em around in a fantasy baseball league and become a tad obsessed and maybe a bit unhinged. Coover's novel follows a dude who does just that--deep, dark, black comedy here, folks.

And maybe next year, you'll be all set for the baseball season (btw, that basically starts in January with spring training).

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