JOY IN MUDVILLE by Gordon McAlpine


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Clever but strenuously overworked screwball baseball fable, circa 1930, from a rookie novelist. It's game three of the World Series in Chicago, the Cubs vs. the Yankees, and Babe Ruth smacks a ball that--in an unprecedented "chemical, physical, and psychic reaction"--blazes out of the park and across the sky, headed for California. Lonely foster-child Buddy Easter, watching the game from a nearby rooftop with his only pal, the ghost of Abner Doubleday, sees the ball go flying and runs west to catch it; so does crackpot scientist Loren Woodville, convinced that the ball is actually the Martian spaceship he's been expecting. The paths of Loren and Buddy converge at the Chicago trainyards, along with that of gorgeous Alice de Minuette--on the lam from would-be rapist Al Capone, whose record-book and manhood she's stolen (she's castrated him). The three hop a boxcar that's already home to Woody Guthrie, riding the rails, bound for glory, and the now quartet heads west, Capone in hot pursuit. Alice jumps train in Smallville, Kansas, where she's saved from machine-gun fire by--who else?--Clark Kent. Sparks ensue, but when Clark asks Alice to sew his blue silk tights, she heads out the door. A showdown with a vicious Capone follows, as well as an attack by the legendary American monster Mothman and rescue at the hands of Prof. Marvel, a.k.a. the Wizard of Oz. By book's sentimental end, Loren has found a love--and Buddy a mom--in Alice's arms; Buddy has caught that ball in Hollywood and become a star; and Alice is about to change her name to Fay Wray for some famous monkey business. Not bad bit by bit, with well-drawn cameos (Babe Ruth especially) and some sparkling moments, either funny or affecting. But the parade of guest stars wears thin, and the overriding feel is more claptrap chaotic than patriotic--an American pie, then, but one overcooked and then dropped on the floor.

Pub Date: April 12th, 1989
ISBN: 525-24748-3
Publisher: Dutton
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