Baseball provides a metaphor for playing--and winning--the game of life in a new novel by the author of The Cooter Farm (1992). Jones packs plenty of humor, pathos and plot into a story that literally ends with a bang. Back in 1962, Susan Innis was found drowned near the home of her employer, Henry Truxton III. Twenty-two years later, Truxton is still around: a millionaire playboy, candidate for the state senate, pornographer, and, Susan's son Walter believes, possibly a murderer. In a narrative that alternates between Walter's first- person recollections of his childhood and a third-person account of his present life, the soon-to-be-divorced, currently jobless used- car salesman plots a revenge that he can lay at the feet of his dying father Vic, a one-time minor league pitcher he doesn't even love. A breech-birth baby, Walter seems to have been going through life ``ass first'' ever since. But now, as he schemes to blackmail Truxton, he comes in contact with a group of people who might just improve the odds of his ever achieving happiness, including Jeannie Weatherrup, a widow who loves pancakes smothered with butter and maple syrup and has the abundant flesh to prove it, and Maurie Winthrop, boyhood friend and sleazy lawyer, who helps Walter forgo extortion and find his moral being. Jones has a wonderful way with words; his prose is ironic, funny and at the same time moving as he explores the pain of existence and the sheer necessity of getting on with life. The Truxton plot line fades away rather than coming to an emotionally satisfying conclusion, but Walter gains a few insights in a final ballpark apotheosis before being cracked over the head by an angry Little Leaguer. Flawed, but personable and engaging--not bad for the second time at bat.