Bill Littlefield, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $17.95 (227p) ISBN 978-0-395-49168-3
Like Mark Harris's Bang the Drum Slowly , this wonderful first novel uses the world of baseball to examine life's larger issues. Pete Estey is a retired baseball scout who, though relatively healthy (albeit tired and depressed), has chosen to live out the string in a rest home in Florida. At Fair Haven he meets Louise Brown, an elderly black woman who works at the home as a volunteer. Louise tries to interest Pete in her great-nephew, ``the ballplayer.'' Pete is skeptical, says he's retired anyway. But when a fire forces Pete out of Fair Haven he goes to live with Louise, who introduces him to Jack Brown, and Estey's interest in the young ballplayer brings the retired scout back to life. Related in alternating chapters by Pete and Louise, the narrative recounts their efforts to get Jack a tryout with the Washington Lions. To do so they have to circumvent the modern-day scouting system (which assumes that if the computers don't know about a ballplayer, the player isn't worth knowing). Littlefield writes convincingly from the points of view of both his appealing characters, conveying the reality of old age without pity or false sentiment. The pacing near the end of the book sags slightly, but this remains a strong, heartfelt work. Major ad/promo; author tour. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1989
Release date: 04/01/1989
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-618-08687-0
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