LEFTY'S BOY by Richard E. Drdek


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While The Game (1968) built up gradually and allusively, Lefty's Boy Barnaby lays everything on the line and underlines it: is it what you put into life (or a job or a relationship or whatever) that counts, or what you get out of it? Playing for the pay-off is Barnaby's father, a one-time Cleveland Indians' pitcher with a nose for booze and an eye on Barnaby's future as a star pitcher; representing disinterested commitment is Hungarian refugee John Nagy, former Chetnik and communist-fighter now practicing his consummate engraving in the Cleveland slum. Lefty's disappearance a week before Christmas has forced fifteen-year-old Barnaby to look for a job; he's apprenticed by John and virtually adopted by John and his wife. Watching John work--coat the surface, sketch in the letters, apply the graver--Barnaby (and the reader) sees that his skill is an unrecognized art. At home John finishes off the lesson: ""My (unsigned) work on the tea set is more of my name than my name."" Running through are run-ins with delinquent Pee Dee who'd have the combination to John's safe, also confabs with right-guy cop Moose Morris, reminders of sweet straight Sue Ann Henry, and replays of domestic trauma before his mother deserted (all conjoined on a cozy Christmas eve). Suddenly Lefty turns up with a meager proposition from the Houston Astros and big dreams, and the two set out; in Kenthcky Lefty deserts, and Barnaby heads for ""home."" The ending is as precipitate as it sounds, the book perhaps somewhat better--at least insofar as it crawls right out of the sidewalk. But some readers might want to be spared Barnaby's penchant for putting everything in baseball terms, others might wish the author let actions speak louder than words.

Pub Date: Oct. 10th, 1969
Publisher: Doubleday