Kirkus Star


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Kahn's years as a sportswriter were neatly packaged in the popular The Boys of Summer. But his experience somehow seems to find even a better, snugger fit in this impression-filled, information-packed novel. The form is hardly breathtaking or original: it's the crucial seventh game of a World Series between The New York Mohawks and The Los Angeles Mastodons; Johnny Longboat, 41-year-old ace-pitcher is going out (he hopes) in a blaze of glory after a career of exceptional uprightness and maturity and talent. And there are long intercuts to Johnny's past--which includes an Oklahoma father who stood up for principles and who paid unduly for it; valuable lessons from the minor leagues; a long adulterous liaison with rich, sleek, loving Christina; plus a bribe offer (declined) from Christina's gambling-syndicate-involved husband. But, if altogether unstartling, Kahn's storytelling scores with the details and grace notes of long intimate knowledge: the mental maneuvers a pitcher makes with his pain while on the mound; the hitter who mouths ""Sorry"" up to the pitcher after the hitter's manager has delivered a yelled string of racial epithets; the coziness of the Commissioner's office with the TV networks; the perils associated with the new breed of lawyer/agents. And, though this novel is little more than a wagon bringing these close-ups to light, it's by no means a slow or clumsy one. A mix of jaundiced eye and deep affection, many times improved over Kahn's previous fiction (But Not To Keep).

Pub Date: June 29th, 1982
Publisher: New American Library