Praise for Declan Burke: “Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

In Which The Cosmos Clears Its Throat

I am reliably informed by those who know such things that the baseball season has - technically, and even officially - already begun. I am also informed that regular season play commences tomorrow, Wednesday April 4th, when baseball bats all over the US of A give voice to that musical ‘crack’ that is, according to political analyst George Will, “the sound the cosmos makes each spring when it clears its throat and says, ‘We made it through another winter.’”
  Having fallen for baseball in a shamefully wanton fashion last summer, I’ve been looking forward to the start of the season for quite some time now. I’ve also been anticipating it with a kind of creeping dread, given that I don’t have the time to scratch myself these days, let alone get sucked into watch three hours worth of baseball every night.
  But I will. Go Phillies, etc.
  Anyway, the timing is good for John Grisham’s CALICO JOE, a charming novel with shades of THE NATURAL, in which a rookie phenom called Joe Castle debuts for the Cubs in the 1973 season, only to come up against a mean-spirited Mets pitcher with a penchant for beanballs. Told by the son of said pitcher, and looking back on the events of ’73 from the perspective of today, it’s essentially a love letter to the game of baseball. And, like all the best love stories, and despite Grisham’s crowd-pleasing instincts at the finale, it is at its heart a tale of poisoned innocence and paradise lost.
  It’s also only 194 pages long. If you start reading it now, you’ll be finished in time for the first pitch …