THE DIXON CORNBELT LEAGUE by W.P. Kinsella

THE DIXON CORNBELT LEAGUE

And Other Baseball Stories
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Kinsella seems to be living off the capital of Shoeless Joe (1982) in this collection of sketches and one-trick ponies--more throwaways than fictions--about the bush leagues. In the title story, basically a footnote to the movie Field of Dreams (which was based on Shoeless Joe), Mike Houle, a promising ballplayer who chokes in the clutch, is sent by his agent to Iowa, where he is supposed to work his way back to the big time by playing for a small-town team. He soon discovers that the team plays intrasquad baseball exclusively; it's simply an excuse to recruit eligible bachelors. Houle doesn't complain, however; while staying with a local family, he's fallen in love with the girl intended for him. The piece is clever, cute, and sentimental, and the same might be said for most of this collection. In ``Searching for January'' Roberto Clemente, killed years ago in a plane crash, returns from the dead in search of January 1973, when time stopped for him. ``The Fadeaway'' shows Christy Mathewson (also returning from the Great Beyond) teaching a manager about his fadeaway pitch. In ``The Baseball Wolf'' a player becomes a werewolf and convinces the narrator to turn into an owl with a taste for kangaroo rats. ``The Darkness Deep Inside'' at least has a satirical spin with a little bite: A player who's born again loses his competitive zest and becomes, by virtue of his peaceful demeanor, a ``disruptive force'' on the team. Neither as surprising or comic as T. Coraghessan Boyle, nor as wry and smirky as Bruce Jay Friedman, Kinsella settles for corn pone and tepid standup routines here, instead of teasing magic from ordinary lives as he does in his best work. Minor-league material.

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 1995
ISBN: 0-06-017188-X
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1994




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