Thursday, April 12, 2012

Field of Stomped Dreams: Brooklyn Nine

I seem to be doing a lot of catch-up with my Reading My Library quest lately. Since I'm picking books quickly and from a limited selection (one from each shelf), sometimes I end up with books that drag out, and then I find myself finishing a bunch at once. So I have three of these to write in a week, instead of one a week which is the pace I planned to keep.

I remember hearing about Alan Gratz's Brooklyn Nine when it came out; something about a book of short stories about baseball, and I'm guessed it mostly took place in Brooklyn. I do like the occasional baseball story, just as I like going to see the occasional baseball game, although I'm not so much of a fan that I always notice who gets to the world series or encourage my sons to play on teams.

I did not expect story after story of unrelenting grimness and doom. Boys get crippled before the big game, the Civil War decimates the players, supposed baseball heroes rob and steal from their star-eyed fans. Apparently there are no happy endings in baseball -- maybe people who know more about Brooklyn teams knew to expect this? Although I exaggerate a little bit; one kid only gets run out of town by the mob, not beaten to death by thugs. I never did throw the book across the room in frustration, although the artistic ending of the story about the little league pitcher almost throwing a perfect game made that close (SPOILER WARNING: the story ends before the last pitch of the game, because after all baseball and childhood are all about the journey, not the destination, and Gratz apparently has no idea why people like me would want to read a book about baseball stories).

Most of the stories are about baseball in the way that Dick Francis books are about horseback racing -- the protagonists are gamblers or memorabilia traders as often as they actually play. This makes my kids' interest in the book sag even further than it did from hearing my groans at another tragic ending after each inning/chapter ended. Although the writing is fine and the stories quite literary, I was glad this book did not go into extra innings.

No comments: