From Bob Timmermann at Griddle.baseballtoaster.com, a review of American Pastime, a film about baseball as played by Japanese Americans who were confined to internment camps during World War II. His bottom line: "it cover[s] a worthy subject and it avoids being preachy, even though the topic of Japanese internment could easily be covered that way."
Timmermann’s opinion aside, the few other critiques I’ve seen about this project indidcate it to be very cliche driven, but so are most other sports films so give it a chance.
Baseball America’s annual book feature includes reviews on several books, CDs, DVDs, and video games. Books include The Soul of Baseball; How Bill James Changed Our View of Baseball; Opening Day; Once Upon a Game; Hideki Matsui, Sportsmanship, Modesty and The Art of the Home Run; Sports Illustrated: The Baseball Books; Brushing Back Jim Crow; Inside Baseball: The Best of Tom Verducci; A Well-Paid Slave; and Branch Rickey, Baseball’s Ferocious Gentleman.
They also link to a list of 2007 book titles.
Newsday‘s Neil Best joins the ranks of critics who seem to hate this book.
What this sordid, 286-page mish-mash really is is a biography. But the author has eschewed that term to rationalize an inconvenient truth: He doesn’t have the journalistic goods to back up his content.
In chastizing author Peter Golenbock, Best writes
If only he had worked a little harder on the research, left out some of the fish stories and not had to resort to that disingenuous "novel" dodge.
Instead, we are left with a book that reminds a reader of an observation the author puts in Mantle’s words on page 5. He notes the irony of his autobiographies becoming bestsellers over the more serious efforts "of all those great philosophical college-smart writers busting their humps."
Says the quasi-fictional Mick: "Kinda makes a mockery of the book business, don’t it?"
Richard Sandomir, sports media columnist for The New York Times, opines on Peter Golenbock’s new "salacious" novel on Mickey Mantle which includes sexually explicit descrpoiotns of his brief fling with Marilyn Monroe.
"What is it about Mantle that makes him fascinating enough to have become something of a literary muse?," Sandomir asks. "He brought his great talent from the country to the New York spotlight; he hit massive home runs but had a body that was breaking down even before he put on a Yankees uniform; he was a blond, blue-eyed Adonis loved by men and women who played in 12 World Series in his first 14 seasons And in his final acts, which would lead him to that Golenbockian heaven, came alcoholism treatment, public atonement, a liver transplant and death by cancer."
The column offers ruminations from baseball authors including Robert Creamer, Bruce Markuseen, and David Falkner, who wrote The Last Hero: The Life of Mickey Mantle.
Mantle colaborated on several books including The Education of a Baseball Player, written with Bob Smith (1967); Herb Gluck on The Mick (1985); Phil Pepe on My Favorite Summer: 1956, a memoir of his Triple Crown season (1991) and Mickey Herskowitz on All My Octobers, a World Series reminiscence (1994).
In all, Mantle was the subject of some 20 books, but none of them delved into his womanizing in any great detail.
Former MLB commissioner Fay Vincent contributed this editorial to the Wall Street Journal, in which he gives his considered opinion on the five best books on the national pastime. They include:
- Men at Work, by George F. Will (1990)
- Eight Men Out, by Eliot Asinof (1963)
- High Pockets, by John R. Tunis (1948)
- The Glory of Their Times, by Lawrence Ritter (1966)
- Veeck as in Wreck, by Bill Veeck (1962)
What’s most interesting about his selections are that they were all published more than 15 years ago. And if you remove WIll’s title, you’re saying that there hasn’t been a "top-five worthy" contribution to baseball literature in almost 50 years. These are all excellent choices, but does Vincent really believe that no books since then are worthy of consideration? Is he like some of his contemporaries, who believe that everything was better "in the day," including the books on the game?
Sometimes I wonder who reads books like this, like Mark Lamster’s Spalding’s World Tour — titles that consider the infancy of the game and the beginnings of its marketing to a broader audience. There are history buffs who follow all sorts of arcane knowledge, but will non-academic modern fans find these stories of interest? Or has baseball become something for fantasy enthusiasts? Look at the plethora of publications on the newsstands; it’s one "roto" journal after another, offering advice and analysis for picking your ideal team. Does the term "Star Trek geek" ring a bell?
Author Cait Murphy hosts a website for her book, which includes reviews, her introduction, and a foreword by Robert Creamer, author of Babe: The Legend Comes to Life and other baseball titles.
Bob Andelman, aka Mr. Media, posted this in-depth interview with Peter Golenbock, author of 7, the already-controversial-though-not-yet-released novel about Mickey Mantle.
A veteran of such notable baseball titles as Dynasty; The Bronx Zoo, which he wrote with Sparky Lyle; Balls, (Craig Nettles); Guidry (Ron Guidry); Number One (Billy Martin); and Wild, High, and Tight, written about Billy Martin, as well as team histories of the Cubs, Red Sox, Cardinals and Mets, 7 is Golenbock’s first work of fiction.
Among the highlights:
- Golenbock admits, "I knew when I wrote it that some people would really love it, some people would like it, and there would be a small majority and probably a vocal majority who would resent it."
- About the explicit sexual content in 7: "[S]ex is a very funny thing. It’s a very large part of our society. We have Playboy and Maxim and God knows what else, and if you look on TV, there is sex here, there, and everywhere, and yet, you know, for a certain part of society, it drives them crazy. They try to pretend that it doesn’t exist and that nobody does it. And so you write about sex, and they act like you are committing some kind of crime."
- Golenbock says the book "is absolutely absed on fact."
- About the question of whether people might be disheartened by Mantle’s off-the-field exploits: "When people want to know what this man was really like a hundred years from now, this book is what’s the book that is going to tell them what he was really like. And people, if they’re wise, are not going to think less of him for it."
- On the cancellation of O.J. Simpson’s literary project, which, like 7, were both products of ReganBooks: " have a funny philosophy, which is that under the First Amendment, a writer has a right to write anything. If O. J. wants to write his whatever that thing was, he’s got a right to do it, and I as a book buyer have a right to decide whether I want to buy it or whether not, and I think canceling these books is a disgrace. It’s a political solution."
You can listen to the interview here.
Baseballinternational.com has a separate link for titles about baseball in far away lands. While by no means complete — most of the books are less than five years old — there are a nice bunch of volumes about the game as played in Japan and Asia, Italy, Australia, Cuba and Latin America, and the Caribbean. Absent is any mention of Canadian baseball and for some reason there are categories on baseball during World War II and baseball and espionage (actually, biographies on Moe Berg), which I suppose are tanegtially international in scope. While the books mentioned herein are basically pathways to Amazon.com, it’s still a good way to find out more before you buy.
As a rule, I don’t critique kids’ books. I just find it too difficult to write more words in a review than are contained in the book itself (especially for the 4 to 8-year-old crowd), and writing about illustrations will only go so far.
So here’s a roundup of five children’s titles from the Ocean County Register, including Out of the Ballpark, by Alex Rodriguez; The Longest Season by Cal Ripken Jr.; Louis Sockalexis: Native American Baseball Pioneer, by Bill Wise; Batter Up, Wombat, by Helen Lester; and yet another version of Casey at the Bat, this one by prolific author Dan Gutman.
This set of four capsule reviews by a student at Swarthmore includes titles — Lardner on Baseball and The Bad Guys Won — that are obviously out of his contemporary memory.