HOME FIELD by John Douglas Marshall


Nine Writers at Bat
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 Nine accomplished writers on baseball as it is played in the Northwest, and as it has played out in their lives, in a collection edited by Seattle Post-Intelligencer writer Marshall (Reconciliation Road, 1993). Several of these personal essays could be used by English teachers to illustrate the perils of overworking metaphors (baseball is life)--and to prove how hard it is to bring freshness to a subject more overworked than the sore-armed ace of a bad pitching staff. In fairness, even the best hitters fail two-thirds of the time, and the batting average on this collection is about as good as Ken Griffey Jr.'s (.303 in 1996). Griffey's name comes up often as the region's premier professional ballplayer, but these pieces are mostly about baseball on a much lower level: playing or coaching Little League or softball, or bonding over baseball with a child, a father, or friends. The two solid hits are barely about baseball at all: novelist Sherman Alexie wondering, in ``The Warriors,'' why he was so uninterested in the Native American girls who played on his Little League team, and Lynda Barry explaining, in ``What Pop Fly Gave His Daughter,'' why she stole her father's baseball glove, anticipating his imminent abandonment of his family. Typical of the whiffs in this nine-writer line-up is Bryan Di Salvatore's ``Team Photo,'' which describes why his Missoula, Mont., softball team reflects most aspects of the universe, then declares impatience with writers turning baseball ``into something hallowed and fraught with meaning.'' Di Salvatore will not be happy with most of his Home Field teammates. Every serious fan, player, and Little League parent knows how closely baseball resembles life. And every writer considering putting such thoughts on paper should think about how much of baseball is about striking out--a lesson verified by this collection.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
ISBN: 1-57061-096-7
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Sasquatch
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1997


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