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Extraordinary experiences rendered in mostly ordinary prose.

The journeyman pitcher/author of The Bullpen Gospels: Major League Dreams of a Minor League Veteran (2010) returns with an account of his struggles to reach and succeed in the Major Leagues—and to find true love.

Hayhurst declares in an author’s note that he’s not interested in writing about “dirty laundry,” but there’s plenty of it on display. He offers grim portrayals of his father, mother and brother, as well as a dark portrait of a fellow minor-league pitcher he calls “Dallas,” who is, in a word, an asshole. Other characters also appear with various warts and imperfections—managers, pitching coaches, veterans who love to haze and others. About the only person who comes off consistently well is the author’s fiancée, Bonnie, whom he marries near the end. Hayhurst occasionally says some bad things and has a few locker-room tantrums, but for the most part he’s the Good Guy on a Quest. Early on he indicates his strong religious beliefs, but they don’t appear much thereafter—oddly, not even during the painful period when he first pitched for the Padres, couldn’t find the plate and lost his confidence. The author also makes an enormous demand on reader credulity when he reports everything in pages of verbatim dialogue with characters speaking in full, well-organized paragraphs, even when they’re outraged. And the chapters end with something snappy, as if Neil Simon were whispering suggestions for curtain lines in their ears. Overall, though, Hayhurst creates forward momentum. Despite our reservations about the narrative, we want him to succeed on the mound, to marry well and to live happily ever after.

Extraordinary experiences rendered in mostly ordinary prose.

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8065-3485-5

Page Count: 410

Publisher: Citadel/Kensington

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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

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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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