cover image Box Socials

Box Socials

W. P. Kinsella. Ballantine Books, $20 (225pp) ISBN 978-0-345-37749-4

Kinsella, whose classic Shoeless Joe found another incarnation in the movie Field of Dreams , evokes the atmosphere of small-town ball fields and other aspects of rural life in this colorful, comic reminiscence of multi-ethnic farm society in Depression-era Canada. Purporting to tell ``the story of how Truckbox Al McClintock almost got a tryout with the genuine St. Louis Cardinals of the National Baseball League,'' narrator Jamie O'Day leads the reader on a rambling tour of the rural Alberta hamlets near which he and Truckbox grew up, the closest being a town called Fark. Inheriting storytelling talent from his father, a transplanted South Carolina carpenter whom he often quotes, Jamie also passes along insights picked up while eavesdropping on the gossip meetings of the ``Fark Female Farmerettes.'' With humor and tenderness Kinsella evokes the social rites of the Norwegian-, German-, Ukrainian- and English-speaking hillbillies, their courtships and heartbreaks, fistfights and philanderings, through a series of weddings, dances, whist drives and box socials. Jamie's teenage memories poke gentle fun at small-town society and at adulthood itself while still celebrating his coming-of-age--the real story here, despite Truckbox McClintock's brush with athletic fame. (May)