STRANGER TO THE GAME

One of the great pitchers in baseball history (and one of the most outspoken and disagreeable), Gibson recalls his storied career with the capable help of Wheeler (I Had a Hammer, not reviewed) and shows he's not done being ``difficult.'' A ferocious competitor who made his living pitching high and tight, Gibson had a reputation throughout his 17 years with the St. Louis Cardinals for being just as uncompromising and angry off the field, especially concerning racial matters. Gibson was raised in an Omaha, Nebr., housing project, where his older brother was hero, mentor, and coach. After college, Gibson, who claims that he was better at basketball than baseball, signed a contract with both the Cardinals and the Harlem Globetrotters, playing one year for the latter. He calls his first professional baseball manager, Johnny Keane, ``the closest thing to a saint that I came across in baseball.'' When Keane replaced Solly Hemus (whom Gibson despised) in 1961, it turned the Cardinals', and Gibson's, fortunes around. Known for his extraordinary performances in the postseason, Gibson had a World Series record of 7-2, with a 1.89 ERA and an incredible 92 strikeouts over 81 innings. He won 20 games in five different seasons and in 1968 posted a 1.12 ERA in 305 innings. Gibson offers some fun and insightful recollections of big games, friends, and teammates such as Tim McCarver, Joe Torre, and Bob Uecker, and legendary matchups with Juan Marichal (``the best pitcher of my generation''), Sandy Koufax, and Don Drysdale. Despite his Hall of Fame credentials, Gibson claims he's been ostracized from the game and hasn't held a baseball job since 1984. Though he grouses a lot about being slighted by major league baseball and rehashes all-too-familiar racial difficulties, it is refreshing to get the fiery Gibson's take on the grand old game. (8 pages b&w photos, not seen) (First printing of 75,000; $75,000 ad/promo; author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-670-84794-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1994

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Funny, perceptive and surprisingly open-hearted under the cynicism.

HELPING ME HELP MYSELF

ONE SKEPTIC, TEN SELF-HELP GURUS, AND A YEAR ON THE BRINK OF THE COMFORT ZONE

A delightful, Plimptonesque exercise in immersive journalism exploring the strange world of “self-help.”

Lisick (Everybody into the Pool: True Tales, 2005, etc.) devoted a year to various gurus in an attempt to self-actualize. She endeavored to become a Highly Effective Person under the auspices of Stephen Covey, to fortify her soul with Jack Canfield’s Chicken Soup, to get fit with Richard Simmons on a cruise ship, to straighten out her perilous finances with Suze Orman, to consistently discipline her young son with Thomas Phelan’s 1-2-3 Magic method, to figure out John Gray’s Mars/Venus gender dichotomy, and generally to live a better, happier life. It is to the reader’s great benefit that Lisick is: 1) a mess, 2) cynical and horrified of cheesiness, and C) effortlessly funny. Her visualizations didn’t go right, she didn’t have the right clothes for the ghastly seminars and on Simmons’s cruise she got high and made inappropriate advances to a surly young musician accompanying his mother. Lisick makes keen use of comic detail, as when she charts the deflation of Simmons’s hair over the course of the cruise. She is tough on the well-paid experts, but fair, sincerely laboring to suspend her skepticism and game to put their advice into action. Some of it works: A home-organization expert helps Lisick’s family emerge from their chaotic clutter, and Phelan’s discipline strategy tames her truculent toddler. But of course the book is funniest when things don’t go so well. The author’s revulsion over Gray’s retrograde sexual stereotypes (and disturbingly smooth, buffed appearance) is palpable and highly amusing. Her articulate hatred of the anodyne platitudes in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way provides a tonic for anyone dismayed by fuzzy New Age smugness. None of that from Lisick, who is sharp, irreverent and endearingly screwed-up. Her experiment may not have solved all of her problems, but she got an enjoyable book out of it.

Funny, perceptive and surprisingly open-hearted under the cynicism.

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-06-114396-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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