THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF SLUGGER McBATT by W.P. Kinsella

THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF SLUGGER McBATT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Kinsella (Shoeless Joe, 1982; The Iowa Baseball Confederacy, 1986) here offers a collection of ten baseball stories that are a mixed bag, both in quality and narrative approach. There are stories told from the viewpoints of kids and old-timers, fans and players and even, in one case. an alien; there is fantasy and naturalism and a blend of the two. For the kids, baseball provides a certain childhood security; even the unathletic protagonist of the title story wins the esteem of the class's star pitcher through his baseball comic-strip. ""There was a wonderful sameness, a stability,"" reflects a character in ""K Mart."" And sometimes that stability can anchor an entire life, as it has for Herky in ""Diehard,"" who makes a painless transition from Red Sox player to diehard Twins fan; when he dies, his widow and oldest friend bury his ashes at the under-construction Metrodome--""a season ticket behind home plate."" (It's the best story here, incidentally: sentiment held delicately in check.) Readers who enjoyed the fantasy elements in Kinsella's baseball novels will not be disappointed: ""Seattle Albatross,"" about an albatross-like alien that becomes the Seattle Mariners' mascot, is both successful whimsy and an opportunity for Kinsella to take some swipes at baseball razzmatazz, while ""Searching for Freddy"" envisions the base-stealing phenomenon Schiraldi, after he has been disabled, magically transmitting his gift to the base-stealers of the future. What is disappointing is Kinsella settling for glib O. Henry endings (""Punchlines,"" ""The Valley of the Schmoon"") and, elsewhere, needlessly inflating his material' in ""K Mart,"" he has unconvincingly shackled his baseball story to another story of betrayal, suicide and guilt, and muddied what could have been a powerfully surrealistic ending. An uneven collection, then, but sustained by graceful writing.

Pub Date: May 25th, 1988
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin