BRITTLE INNINGS by Michael Bishop

BRITTLE INNINGS

KIRKUS REVIEW

 From the author of such noted works as Unicorn Mountain (1988), No Enemy But Time (1982), and others comes this remarkable novel, set in 1943, inspired by bush-league baseball and--it sounds incongruous, but Bishop pulls it off brilliantly--literature's most famous monster. Talented 17-year-old shortstop Danny Boles leaves Tenkiller, Oklahoma, to join the Hellbridge Hellbenders, a class C farm club in Georgia's Chattahoochee Valley League--but on the train to Hellbridge he's robbed and brutally raped, and loses his ability to speak. The Hellbenders' manager, Mister JayMac, rooms Danny with first-baseman Henry ``Jumbo'' Clerval, who, despite his intimidating yellow eyes, huge bulk, mysterious scars, and awesome hitting, turns out to be a gentle and understanding companion. Yet Henry is not what he seems: He talks a courtly, old-fashioned English and keeps secret papers hidden under his bed inside a kayak he claims to have made himself. He is, of course, Frankenstein's monster (savvy readers will have been tipped off by the name). After wandering in the Arctic for many years seeking redemption, immortal Henry came to Georgia--and discovered baseball. Danny soon wins the starting shortstop's job, to the chagrin of the incumbent, Buck Hoey, who nurses a deep resentment of the youngster. Through the summer of 1943, the complications mount: the Hellbenders, in the thick of a pennant race, lose their star centerfielder, a hemophiliac, in a bizarre accident during a game on an army base with a team of Negro All-Stars; Hoey is traded to the team's pennant rivals, the Gendarmes; during the last, crucial game of the season, with Danny and Henry slated to join the Philadelphia Phillies, Hoey extracts a horrid revenge. Resonantly evocative of time and place, with a splendid gallery of characters in a beautifully reticulated plot.

Pub Date: April 15th, 1994
ISBN: 0-553-08136-5
Page count: 512pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1994




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