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 Fanny Flagg meets W.P. Kinsella in Kiraly's (California Rush, 1990) whimsical account of an eccentric midwestern family, their various predicaments, and the solution to these via a rare baseball card. Rollie Zerbs is the town character of La Porte, Missouri. Retired from the bar he owned most of his life, he now ties fishing line and hooks to the keys of an old typewriter cantilevered out from his dock and spends his days editing the poetry written on it by the fish of the Mississippi River. As the town declines, Rollie is becoming both the most famous thing about it and its greatest embarrassment. And with his memory waning and his phony reports of being burglarized, the decision is to put him away somewhere. Enter Rollie's grandson Cooper, living in Chicago and working for the Neatly Chiseled Features newspaper syndicate. Cooper, who recently suffered a blow to the head defending a tenuously connected girlfriend, is a little befuddled by life himself, and when both his mother and Rollie call asking for help, he returns to La Porte. Rollie admits to Cooper that while his memory is declining, the break-ins are real: Someone has been trying to steal his baseball card, an incredibly rare Wildfire Schulte card from a 1909 Robert Higuera cigar-box set. The two decide that selling the valuable card could be a solution to all their problems: Rollie could pay someone to care for him at home, and he, Cooper, and Cooper's high- school and current sweetheart, Charlotte, could revive the abandoned restaurant on the river and get the town back on its feet. The high jinks really start when the three journey to Chicago to try to sell Rollie's card at a collectors' convention. Apparently there are a great many quirky homicidal maniacs who collect baseball cards. Teetering at times on the brink of terminal cuteness, but, still, a charming and often funny tale.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-425-14951-X
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Berkley
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1995