Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Beauty of Baseball

My favorite baseball book ever is The Brothers K by David James Duncan.  The thing is Duncan is writing about family in that book, not baseball.  And yet baseball is the lens through which the family story is told. It's a lovely story by a great writer.
The Art of Fielding may be my second favorite baseball book ever.  One reason I love it is the setting. At Westish College, a small school on the shore of Lake Michigan, baseball introduces us to unforgettable characters striving for perfection and falling short.  The impossibility of achieving perfection in life or in sport are the lessons learned at Westish. 

"That baseball rewards languid virtuosos and frothing monomaniacs about equally is one of the game's weird fascinations. That Academe does the same would not be useful information in the hands of a hack. But The Art of Fielding marries the national pastime to the life of the mind, takes off running, and never flags. Chad Harbach's pen shatters stereotypes like fastballs shatter bats. His sentence-making keeps things fluid and tense as a September pennant race. When the best shortstop alive sounds believably like a Tibetan lama, and when a thrown ball striking a shovel head at dawn leaves your own head ringing with certainty that truth and friendship have triumphed, you know you're in the hands of a writer you can trust."
-David James Duncan, author of The Brothers K

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

And the Winner of the Booker Prize is...

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes.  I'll be reviewing this selection shortly. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

National Book Award Shortlists

The National Book Award shortlist has been released.  Here is the fiction list.

Andrew Krivak, The Sojourn
(Bellevue Literary Press)

Téa Obreht, The Tiger's Wife
(Random House)

Julie Otsuka, The Buddha in the Attic
(Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House)

Edith Pearlman, Binocular Vision
(Lookout Books, an imprint of the Department of Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington)

Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones
(Bloomsbury USA)

To see the other lists for nonfiction, poetry and young people's fiction go to the webpage.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Congratulations, Lev

Fox Entertainment has picked up The Magicians as a TV series beginning as early as next fall. If you haven't read it or Lev's newest book The Magician King, start now. They are both a lot of fun.

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Few Items of Interest

The Man Booker Shortlist - I've been negligent for not mentioning the titles on the fiction shortlist.  The six books, selected from the longlist of 13, are:

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
 Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan
*Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman
*Snowdrops by A. D. Miller
*first novels
I have not read any of these titles yet.  If you have, please let me know what you think.  A few won't be available in the US until January 2012.  Something to look forward to in the new year.
Here's a link to A Guide to Navigating NPR’s Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books.”  My sources tell me this chart could be greatly enhanced with a little work.  Any takers?
And finally, on one of my favorite websites The Millions, Very Bad Things: A Pessimistic Reading List by Emily St. John Mandel.  We could make a lot of additions to this list, too.