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Re-reading "Shoeless Joe" nearly 30 years later

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by micropolitan guy, Jun 20, 2013.

  1. micropolitan guy

    micropolitan guy Well-Known Member

    Several weeks ago I bought a copy of "Shoeless Joe" (the book "Field of Dreams is loosely based on) at the local used bookstore. Had a copy back when it came out, but somehow I'd lost it and not read it since 1986 or so.

    I'd forgotten what a wonderful, well-written book it is. Quite different from the movie, although many of the movie scenes are a perfect match. I know a lot of people here think the movie is a horrible mass of schmaltz (I happen to love it), but even if you think that, read the book if you haven't.

    A retired surgeon friend of mine in my city grew up in Chisholm and actually knew Dr. Archie "Moonlight" Graham. He gave me a "Our past in pictures" clipping from the Chisholm paper and that photo includes Dr. Graham and his wife, Alicia, who is wearing one of her famous hats. I can only assume it's blue because the photo is black and white.

    I have also met WP Kinsella, at a local minor league game many years ago, where he was autographing copies of his books. He reminded me of the skinny character with the wire-rim glasses on "Evening Shade."

    My son plays summer baseball. On Monday they got updated stats and he told me he was hitting only .235. I told him not so sweat it, that he'd get a couple knocks in his next game and be right back up near .300.

    I started reading the book that night. Last night he played his first game since we talked, and went 3-for-4, with the first triple of his life and about four RBIs, including two on a base hit that came after he fouled off about six 2-strike pitches, maybe the best at-bat of his entire life.

    A coincidence? I think not. Maybe there is magic in that book.
  2. Shoeless Joe

    Shoeless Joe Active Member

    No spoilers. I don't want it ruined for me.
  3. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    SPOILER Alert: Jackson wears shoes in the book.
  4. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Fantastic book.

    And a second book recommendation, if you're interested in learning about the real Doc Graham's life: "Chasing Moonlight" by Bob Reising and our own Brett Friedlander.
  5. JackReacher

    JackReacher Well-Known Member

    I've been looking for a new book to get into. Just bought it. Thanks.
  6. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    In my entire existance, I never lobbied for a novel like I lobbied for Shoeless Joe. It's XXX times better than the movie, so if you liked the movie, well, then . . . get with it.
  7. Johnny Dangerously

    Johnny Dangerously Well-Known Member

    Unless I am mistaken, buckweaver has in his possession a book of baseball writing that features a Kinsella short story in which the author is a 15-year-old bat boy for the 1951 New York Giants who is found to be an outstanding hitter. The Giants add him to the roster for pinch hitting purposes, but for me the best part of the story is the running conceit in which the Giants enjoy discussing literature with him in the dugout, debating the classics and the works of more modern authors. If you can suspend disbelief enough to imagine the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson walking out of an Iowa cornfield to play baseball, you perhaps can appreciate the setup in this piece.

    How Bobby Thomson ends up hitting the Shot Heard 'Round the World is the story's denouement (a term I dare say someone like Alvin Dark or Sal Maglie may have even used in the piece.

    I wish I'd made a Xerox copy of the story. I can't seem to find any evidence of it online.
  8. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    It's been a long long time since I read "Shoeless," but as I recall it was really sprawling and seemingly disorganized.

    The movie seems a lot more focused and succinct.
  9. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    It's sprawling, all right, but it's not disorganized. And some of the characters who were cut out of the movie were quite memorable.

    JD, we've finally been able to unpack all our books this past year, so let me see if I can find that Kinsella story and scan it in for you.
  10. Steak Snabler

    Steak Snabler Well-Known Member

    Spoiler alert: Joe Jackson does not bat right-handed or speak with a New Jersey accent in the book.
  11. Johnny Dangerously

    Johnny Dangerously Well-Known Member

    That would be awesome. Thank you. It's a shame there isn't an electronic version out there so others can see it. The combination of literature and baseball, I think, would make a fun discussion here.
  12. Johnny Dangerously

    Johnny Dangerously Well-Known Member

    Me too. First day of vacation today. Book's in view. Going to be fun summer reading. I like it even more that a friend is the one who provided the inspiration for me to get it again and read it again. Thank you.
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