For die-hard Lasorda or Dodgers fans only.

I LIVE FOR THIS!

BASEBALL’S LAST TRUE BELIEVER

A lightweight biography of former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, from Los Angeles Times columnist and ESPN contributor Plaschke (Plaschke: Good Sports, Spoilsports, Foul Balls and Oddballs, 2002).

With the help of Lasorda, Plaschke chronicles the beloved Dodger’s life and career, from his humble beginnings as a poor child in Norristown, Penn., to his career as a left-handed pitcher, to the position which solidified his legacy—Hall of Fame manager of the Dodgers. Plaschke portrays Lasorda as a rotund, likable, noncerebral leader who loved his job, the Dodgers and food. The author goes to great lengths to explain that Lasorda was an incredibly inspirational speaker and witty storyteller. But Plaschke hamstrings this characterization with descriptions of the manager’s run-of-the-mill speeches—such as Lasorda “inspiring” a pitcher to throw strikes by telling him, in no uncertain terms, that he needed to throw strikes—and corny jokes. Although Lasorda managed some of the Dodgers’s greatest heroes—Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser, among many others—here he passes up a worthwhile opportunity by spending little time describing their great careers with the Dodgers, aside from taking what he thinks is due credit for their successes. Mike Piazza—one of the most beloved Dodgers of the past 20 years—merits little more than a mention, as Lasorda merely points out that he was the man responsible for identifying the talent that so many other scouts and managers ignored. Ultimately, the book suffers from Plaschke’s attempt to simultaneously portray Lasorda as both a player’s manager who would never say an unkind word about a member of the team, and a tough-as-nails field general who would never back down from anyone and who would, if necessary, use his fists to make his points. Still, there’s no denying that Lasorda decorated his trophy case with plenty of hardware, including two World Series titles and, after departing the Dodgers as manager and against long odds, a gold medal in baseball at the 2000 Olympics.

For die-hard Lasorda or Dodgers fans only.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-618-65387-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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The book begins in Sri Lanka with the tsunami of 2004—a horror the author saw firsthand, and the aftermath of which he...

LIVES OTHER THAN MY OWN

The latest from French writer/filmmaker Carrère (My Life as a Russian Novel, 2010, etc.) is an awkward but intermittently touching hybrid of novel and autobiography.

The book begins in Sri Lanka with the tsunami of 2004—a horror the author saw firsthand, and the aftermath of which he describes powerfully. Carrère and his partner, Hélène, then return to Paris—and do so with a mutual devotion that's been renewed and deepened by all they've witnessed. Back in France, Hélène's sister Juliette, a magistrate and mother of three small daughters, has suffered a recurrence of the cancer that crippled her in adolescence. After her death, Carrère decides to write an oblique tribute and an investigation into the ravages of grief. He focuses first on Juliette's colleague and intimate friend Étienne, himself an amputee and survivor of childhood cancer, and a man in whose talkativeness and strength Carrère sees parallels to himself ("He liked to talk about himself. It's my way, he said, of talking to and about others, and he remarked astutely that it was my way, too”). Étienne is a perceptive, dignified person and a loyal, loving friend, and Carrère's portrait of him—including an unexpectedly fascinating foray into Étienne and Juliette's chief professional accomplishment, which was to tap the new European courts for help in overturning longtime French precedents that advantaged credit-card companies over small borrowers—is impressive. Less successful is Carrère's account of Juliette's widower, Patrice, an unworldly cartoonist whom he admires for his fortitude but seems to consider something of a simpleton. Now and again, especially in the Étienne sections, Carrère's meditations pay off in fresh, pungent insights, and his account of Juliette's last days and of the aftermath (especially for her daughters) is quietly harrowing.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9261-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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