Grimes's second novel--the spirited tale of a rookie player fighting to survive in the complex world of professional baseball- -picks up where his first, A Stone of the Heart (1990), left off in evoking the bleak choices facing the previous generation of middle- class America and its children's mad desire to get away. Mike Williams--the product of an urban, lower-middle-class family in conformist, TV-dazed, 50's America--burns with a desire to triumph over his dreary origins, and luckily he has the talent and drive to do so. His ability to hit a baseball gains the newly married 20-year-old entry into the minor leagues, where he blithely experiments with marijuana, Zen philosophy, and superstitious propitiation to ``the game'' (including, in one instance, having a child) in order to improve his batting average. Surprisingly, this combination works, and Williams finds himself propelled into the altogether different world of professional baseball--where after being named Rookie of the Year he is led by a manipulative team- owner, his own ambition and greed, and the soul-shaking tides of celebrity and wealth, ever deeper into disillusionment and mute despair. As Williams slams up against the consequences of his careerism--the dissolution of his marriage and a deepening sense of alienation and betrayal frighteningly like his father's--Grimes's own gift for lighting on the telling details of modern American life, evoking the pitfalls and pleasures of the pursuit of perfection, and laying out a standard American brand of the Faustian dilemma, combines with an obvious enthusiasm for baseball to make this an unusually engrossing coming-of-age tale, particularly appropriate for the post-boom 1990's. Passionate, entertaining, and refreshingly confident.