Guide to Baseball Novels: G

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Compact, resonant fiction where a child learns about adults – their foibles and their courage – in subtle ways.

Sex, jazz, and violent death round out this very male saga.

The plain vanilla center of the Dodger-novel genre.

Neither as scandalous as it tries to be nor as thoughtful as it might have been. Read my review at lection.

Well, that's one way of describing the plot of this quirky novel, which has intriguing characters. The plot degenerates into a mess of gory gunfight scenes--oddly enough, because the overall impulse of the story is comic; it's a tale of redemption.

Amiable mystery that is much more interested in the personalities and ambiance of a ballclub than in murder or detection. By a former Toronto Blue Jays' beat writer.

An odd, appealing magical-realist fantasy, told in counterpoint by the team owner and the team's star catcher. It becomes positively a parable of the loss of innocence in the face of money, but doesn't lose its ability to unsettle and surprise the reader.

Criticism: Candelaria

Drover is sort of a AAA version of Robert Parker's Spenser; he certainly has a mouth on him, and the edgy dialogue carries this hard-boiled crime story.

Castro must appear in more baseball novels than any other historical personage.

Meticulous novel, perfectly resonant; one of the finest recreations of its era in American historical fiction, and often cited as the best baseball novel of all time; certainly a leading candidate for the honor, as it combines research, realism, and poetry in unique proportion.

Criticism: Hye, Kates, McGimpsey, Strecker

Despite the magical potential of the premise, She's on First is written in a straightforward realistic idiom. It's well-done, but predictable, and tends to become a family romance rather than the story of a woman professional making her mark. However, since most baseball novels by and about men are family romances posing as sport stories, that isn't remarkable. She's on First is a far better book than Can't Miss, which shares its main idea, and far better too than The Sensuous Southpaw, which beat it to its main plot by a decade.

Criticism: Sullivan

Not much plot interest here; baseball forms a convenient backdrop for a number of young-hero-makes good motifs.

Criticism: Solomon

Narrator Mike Williams is a sort of postmodern Henry Wiggen. The novel is interesting for the DeLilloesque character of Williams's agent Alvin Hammer.

Criticism: McGimpsey

Against the rhythm of Roger Maris's drive toward 61 home runs, of course . . . sharply written and keenly observed, this is one of the better coming-of-age novels to make extensive use of baseball as a motif.

The level of glurge is excessive, and the baseball detail, despite a thicket of real-seeming stats and allusions, is unconvincing.

Historical Christian baseball romance, a heady confluence of genres. Like many romance novels, built on a fair amount of research, here about a legendary and colorful era in baseball history.

Arch, almost precious in tone, this novel nonetheless delivers what its flap copy promises: "a lighthearted western mystery."

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