Sometimes You See It Coming

Kevin Baker, Author Crown Publishers $20 (0p) ISBN 978-0-517-59088-1
This uneven first novel about major-league baseball utilizes the sport as both a metaphor for real life and an escape from it. Hero John Barr, ``the greatest if not the most beloved player in the game,'' is equal parts Ty Cobb, Ted Williams and Roy Hobbs, a man with almost surreal natural ability, a deep secret and no friends. He plays for a New York Mets team composed of the sort of eccentrics who populate most serious baseball novels these days--a relief pitcher who attributes his success to the Cabala, and a half-Indian, half-Jewish, all-alcoholic hurler named Moses Yellowhorse being two of the more prominent examples. The book's point of view moves from that of Ricky Falls, the closest thing to a friend Barr has among his teammates, to those of other players and sportswriters and an awkwardly written third-person narration. Much of the material reads like half-digested reworkings of various as-told-to baseball autobios by stars of the late-1970s New York Yankees, including a crazy manager who bears an uncanny resemblance to the late Billy Martin. Baker displays flashes of genuine wit, as in his description of a slumping ballplayer who is ``draggin' himself around like his shoes had concrete laces,'' and he has an undeniable feel for the way men interact with one another. In spite of its shortcomings, the novel acquires momentum and builds to a genuinely satisfying, if predictable, climax. 50,000 first printing, ad/promo. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/1993
Release date: 02/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-06-053597-1
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