Joy in Mudville

Gordon McAlpine, Author
Gordon McAlpine, Author Dutton Books $17.95 (212p) ISBN 978-0-525-24748-7
Reviewed on: 04/01/1989
Release date: 04/01/1989
Set in the 1930s, this gracefully written first novel opens with the World Series at Wrigley Field in Chicago. On a rooftop across the street, 14-year-old orphan Buddy Easter watches the game with his invisible friend, Abner Doubleday. Outside the ballpark a dime-a-dance girl named Alice de Minuette tries to get a message to Babe Ruth, with whom she once had an affair, while being chased by Al Capone's men because she spurned his advances and unknowingly grabbed an envelope containing the gangster's business secrets. On the other side of town, Loren Woodville, a brilliant scientist with a controversial theory about Martians, prepares to jump off a bridge. At this moment, the Babe ``calls'' his famous home run and launches the ball literally into the stratosphere. It clears the stadium, the neighboring apartment buildings, the city itself. Buddy watches the ball and determines to follow it across the country so he can catch it when it lands. Loren, dangling upside down off the bridge, sees the magical baseball and is convinced that he's finally spotted an alien spacecraft. McAlpine is a gifted stylist, with clean, clear and muscular prose. Unfortunately its effectiveness is reduced because the story line--while striving for the ``magical''--settles sometimes for the sentimental or the cute. Still, this baseball fantasy is a strong debut, and leaves us hoping that the author's vision will eventually rise to the level of his impressive literary talent. (Apr.)
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