Essential Reading for Baseball Fans and Dreamers

The Essential W. P. Kinsella, by W. P. Kinsella, (Tachyon Publications), 432 pages, release date 17 March, 2015.

The Essential W. P. Kinsella has been out for several months now, so this review is coming a bit late, but I wanted to draw attention to this marvelous compendium. If you have joint passions for baseball and reading, you most likely know of Kinsella’s work. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, think Field of Dreams. That heartwarming combination of baseball, mysticism, and literary journey was based on Kinsella’s novel of the same title.

I’d read all of Kinsella’s novels, but somehow hadn’t realized that he was also a prolific writer of short stories. The genre is perfect for his kind of writing: startling, original, entertaining, combining real world elements (baseball, Indian life in Iowa and Canada) with fantasy. I don’t know where he gets his ideas—but they translate into wonderful stories that can easily bear multiple readings.

In “Searching for January,” a 1980s U.S. baseball fan vacationing in Central America is startled to meet Roberto Clemete who’s just appeared from out of the ocean fog on a rubber life raft. In “How I Got My Nickname,” we learn how W. P. Kinsella (yes, he frequently appears in his own stories) ensures that Bobby Thompson has a chance to hit “the shot heard round the world.” These are the kinds of tales Kinsella excells at, and—with his fecund imagination—that never feel stale, regardless of how many of his other works you’ve read.

If you’re looking for a substantial volume of summer reading that you can pick up at will—and that celebrates the delight that is summer baseball—you’ll want to spend a good bit of time with W. P. Kinsella.

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