Monday, August 17, 2015

The Further Adventures of Slugger McBatt by W P Kinsella - A Short Story Collection - BookReport #142

Before I get into the stories let me just say that if you love baseball, the history of it, the pace, the slow understanding of it; you will love this book.  The collection is about people, legends, history, summer heat, scams and troublemakers.

It is a wonderful collection.  Kinsella can tell a story.

Distances - 32/100. A stranger comes to town and befriends two young men.  Together they arrange a challenge game made up of the local high school team and a Division One team.

The stranger treats the boys well but he's certainly up to something. 

This was a wonderful story, perfect for a sunny day with a cold beer.  Good thing that's how I read it.

Reports Concerning the Death of the Seattle Albatross Are Somewhat Exaggerated - 33/100.  Wow.  This story took me by surprise but I liked it.  Just sit back and enjoy a story of an extraterrestrial who just happens to look exactly like sports mascot.

The Further Adventures of Slugger McBatt  - 34/100- A touching story of an awkward boy who befriends the jocks of his school through his cartooning abilities.  It is a universal coming of age story that is directed to those of us who struggled with athletics. 

Frank Pierce, Iowa - 35/100- This story read like poetry, a lazy remembrance of a hot, midsummer day on the prairies. It's about the legend of how a small Iowa town just - disappeared. 

Of course it's more than that; what truly stuck with me was the heat of a blazing hot afternoon. 

K Mart - 36/100 - This was an emotionally complicated story about a high-schooler growing up in a remote town, his friends, a young girl and a suicide. 

Regret and release. Memories and diverging paths. 

Sad and lovely. 

The Valley of the Schmoon - 37/100 - A one sided conversation in the dead of night driving to Seattle. The driver, an old player turned catcher's coach, is telling stories to his passenger, a rookie about to play his first games in the big league. 

The world is passing our narrator by as he reminisces on how life used to be and how the game has changed. 

It seems to be a truism of aging that the world can somehow leave you behind without your realizing it. 

Punchlines -38/100 - There's one on every team - a trouble maker, somebody who always winds up in some kind of trouble either with the law, a husband or in a hospital.  The kind of person who has never grown up can be fun in small doses but can wear a team down if he can't be controlled.

There tends to be a reason these types of guys keep acting out and in this story it still kind of works but it won't be long before in makes a reader groan.  Still it's a good read.

The Eddie Scissons Syndrome. - 39/100 - I'm not quite sure how I feel about this story. It ends too soon and too abruptly.

A college student and former designated hitter prospect is injured and takes a job as a teacher's aid with a professor studying pathological sports liars: people who brag about playing in the big leagues but haven't.

They track down an old man in a VA hospital to uncover his story.

The professor's motivation is never made quite clear and the reaction of the student made little sense to me either.

Sadly, this is the first story that did not work for me.

Come to think of it, the opening paragraph was wonderful. I must have read it four or five times just for the joy of it.

I could have been another Greg Luzinski.  A sportswriter wrote
about me that I run forward with the same speed a mixer full of
concrete moves backward.  I'm built close to the ground; my
teammates used to call me Dumpster.  Just like the "Bull" I was big
and slow, but I could hit the ball a mile with great regularity.

Diehard - 40/100 - An old friend has died.  What to do with the ashes.

Beautiful, hopeful and heartwarming. A lovely story.

Searching For Freddie - 41/100 - A sports reporter chases a base stealing legend across time and across America.

Yet another hart-warming story about a baseball legend who spent very little time in the Bigs but made an impression on people.   There is an understated magic to this story that made me sigh and sit back in my chair with a smile.

Conclusion - 

Let me say this book was a joy from start to finish. Highly recommended.

You can find Kinsella's website here:

W. P. Kinsella

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