cover image Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa: Stories

Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa: Stories

W. P. Kinsella. Southern Methodist University Press, $19.95 (141pp) ISBN 978-0-87074-355-9

Most of the stories in this collection by Kinsella are about men grappling with significant life choices and often blurring the line between fantasy and reality in the process. An aluminum-window salesman who routinely picks up women while traveling on business, inventing new identities for himself and for them during whatever time they have for escaping from everyday life, meets someone who instinctively knows how to play the game, and his ordered existence is threatened. A widowed father, visited by a childhood friend with rapidly dissipating magical powers who needs his help for one last trick, commits a series of small crimes and ends up in the J. Walter Ives Institute for the Emotionally Disturbed, trying to convince the staff he really is crazy. These tales (the title story grew into the novel Shoeless Joe , which in turn was the basis for the film Field of Dreams ) are best when they venture into the fantastic and the narrative supersedes heavy-handed description and shallow characters. Most compelling is the story of the appearance of Sister Ann in an Iowa cornfield; she claims she's waiting for a miracle. She is revered and feared until she melts a foolhardy boy who exposes himself and the villagers come after her. (Nov. )