baseball books audiobooks summer hot heat Marbach Grisham

Catch this doubleheader by Josh Trudell

The dog days of summer are my least favorite time of year. Everything feels like it’s moving in slow motion – the 95-degree sun across the sky, me at the gym, Jon Lester’s fastball… you get the idea.

Baseball slogs through these days. Trying to take my mind off the Red Sox, who are slogging their way to oblivion, I’ve been listening to books about baseball.

My most recent doubleheader has been The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach and Calico Joe, by John Grisham.

The difference between the two is the difference between a 90-mph fastball down the middle and an artfully shaped curveball thrown by a lefty – one of those that when you see it on TV, it looks as if it is going to wander out past the first base batter’s box and hit the on-deck batter. Then it snaps back and thumps into the catcher’s mitt.

Harbach’s book is a lyric little bandbox of a novel, detailing the struggles of several figures brought together around a phenom dealing with confidence issues.

This could easily devolve into a paint-by-numbers jock book, but Harbach brings a sense of depth and reality to his characters that far surpasses the situation.

Baseball is the nominal backdrop – Grisham’s novel has more recognizable baseball moments – but Harbach crafts his story so well, the characters could have been playing cricket or sitting on a raft in the ocean.

He crafts several viewpoints, all dealing with different issues. I identified with some, didn’t with others, but couldn’t tear myself away from any of their stories.

Read it. Today.

Grisham’s novel, on the other hand, doesn’t have the same surprise or craft of language – it’s a simple little tale around a bitter father, an angry son, and what, at least partially, heals the gap between them.

I found the bitterness between the son and father so harsh as to be almost unreadable – my father and I bonded over baseball more than anything else.

It’s a decent read (or listen, in this case – both of these were on audiobooks), but it’s a John Burkett to Marbach’s Pedro Martinez.

Work:I've got a new piece in the San Antonio Express-News about Corpus Christi. Another piece is coming soon about the turtle release I wrote about here. The photo show at the San Antonio Public Library is still ongoing.

Movies: Plenty of thoughts about The Dark Knight Rises, which was epically long and included plenty of awesome, but was tragically overshadowed by a mass murder at a Denver theater. Still working out some thoughts about this.