THE GRACE OF SHORTSTOPS by Robert Mayer

THE GRACE OF SHORTSTOPS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Benjamin ""PeeWee"" Brunig is eight years old in 1947, the year that his beloved Brooklyn Dodgers (PeeWee is the rare Bronx fan) are playing in the World Series against the Yankees. But the harsh non-baseball world keeps intruding on PeeWee's fervent hopes for--and belief in--his Bums. First his grandmother has a stroke. Then one of his baby cousins is kidnapped from her carriage. And, most upsetting of all, PeeWee discovers from a secret diary that his mother once had a torrid affair with her brother-in-law Mickey Hirsch. Still, PeeWee weathers all these disillusionments well enough: with help from some cousins and friends, in fact, he solves the kidnapping mystery--in hoary Hardy Boys style. (""'Okay,' he said again. 'I'm crossing the street, to check that warehouse over there. You guys split up. . . . If you find anything, holler. If not, we'll meet in that store on the corner. Any questions?'"") Moreover, the solution of the crime leads to a baglady/Holocaust survivor, from whose pathetic life PeeWee begins to understand the pressures of history on individual behavior. Unfortunately, however, uneven novelist Mayer (The Execution, Midge and Decker) doesn't bring much flair to this rather YA-ish bundle of plot-lines--which also includes gun-running for the Haganah by PeeWee's rabbi father, old family grievances, even a Yiddish-inflected angel who philosophizes with the characters in moments of stress. And the familiar baseball-fan metaphor here--baseball as innocence/perfection--gets lost in all the cute, contrived, melodramatic goings-on. Some pleasing nostalgia for old-time Dodger devotees, then, but otherwise a confused and busy coming-of-age story.

Pub Date: Sept. 14th, 1984
Publisher: Doubleday