cover image The Curious Case of Sidd Finch

The Curious Case of Sidd Finch

George Plimpton. MacMillan Publishing Company, $14.95 (275pp) ISBN 978-0-02-597650-4

The ubiquitous Plimpton strikes again, with a first novel; and it's tempting, and not really unfair, to say that he's almost as much out of his depth in full-length fiction as in those memorable moments in the ring or on the football field. He goes back to a jokey Sports Illustrated article he once did about the world's fastest pitcher, an English-born Buddhist monk called Sidd Finch, who learned his speed and accuracy hurling rocks at marauding snow leopards in the Himalayas. Plimpton fits him out with an eccentric British past, a gorgeous but kookie Southern girl friend and a tentative contract with the Mets. But despite a relaxedsometimes much too relaxednarrative style, and a lot of pleasant rambling about horn-playing, wrist musculature and the future of baseball, the book just doesn't go anywhere. It's as if Plimpton threw in everything he could think of to pad it out to novel length, and some of the paddingincluding a totally inept episode about a Mafia gamblershould have been cut early on. Baseball fans will enjoy parts of this, but even they will feel cheated that there's no real climax. The book, like Finch, just ambles off the field. Literary Guild Alternate. (June 15)